[Updated OCT2020]

AWS i.e. Amazon Web Services is amazing thing to start a website, private cloud, applications hosting or experiments to learn. Launched in 2006 it kept on coming with new services and changes. Currently it offers around 20 services under its name.

Many people still don’t know that they can get AWS service free for whole 1 year without paying charges if conditions kept. Imagine you can run your own 613 MB VPS without paying a dime for an year.

Excited? Well first take a  look at advantages of AWS over other VPS.

Pay As You Go

There are no commitments and up front cost. No monthly fees like local VPS etc. Just pay what you use and that too at very considerable rates. You used nothing; you pay nothing. Use Free Tier to host for free.

Speed and Security

What speed you get from a cheap VPS of $4-$6/month? 100-200 KBPS at max? AWS gives me speeds of 1-1.5 MBPS. Servers are backed by Amazon. So, now you know that you can trust your site and data.


It’s open. You can choose any Operating system or platform. There are literally hundreds of AMI (Amazon Maching Image) which is aka OS like CentOS, Windows, Debian, Ubuntu etc.


Elastic Cloud Compute i.e. EC2 and Virtual Private Cloud are 2 different services which can be used as VPS. Both are very agile and can be used in anyway you want.

One Elastic IP

One Elastic IP address: It is more like a dedicated IP. If used properly they will not charge you anything. What more; you can change this address to other IP (not per choice but automated).

Free Tier Usage
Here comes the goodies. AWS started Free Tier Usage program under which they any new customer can sign-up. This includes micro instance (613 MB RAM), 10 GB Disk space, 1 IP, 750 Hours of instance run per month and lots more. It works awesome for an average website and trust me I haven’t paid anything since 2 months.

Excited even more? Sign-up here. (No Affiliate Link). Use this same link unless you get familiar with all services. You will need a credit card for verification. They will charge you less than 50 cents.

 First exposure to AWS can be freaky. I prefer EC2 service than VPC. To start your own server (generally known as instance) –Refer this guide

How To Avoid Unwanted AWS Charges

Now, many people say that they have been charged for the Free Tier or AWS is just a rip-off. I will say that they are very ignorant in reading this out and just going out for Free thingy.

If you never want to get charged during an year and use the Free Tier without issue follow and keep these things in mind;

Micro Instance

Always select Micro Instance (t1 Micro 613 MB RAM) and 1 in number. This is double than what even WordPress and SQL server needs. Never be greedy for more if you don’t want to pay and you don’t need it. Free Tier only includes ‘t1 Micro’.

Be aware that there is ‘t1 micro’ and ‘t1 small’ instance. These two are different. Use Micro.

Only One Instance

Always run only one Instance at a time. AWS counts everything in hours. You have 750 hours a month which is equal to total hours in a month. So no problem. However, you run 2 instance so actually you are using 48 hours in a day.

EBS Block Storage

Always go for EBS (Elastic Block Storage) AMI i.e. operating system. This is included in Free Tier. This EBS you can compare with Disk Space.

Amazon Machine Image

AMI: Certain 2-3 AMIs which needs commercial licence attracts cost. Use the one with STAR on them or any AMI from Community AMIs.

EBS Type

Always make sure that your EBS is of type – Root and not more than 10 GB. That is the limit. These settings will come while Launching an Instance. Notice each step.

Zone preference

Try not to have preference for zones. Let it to default. Preferring something means privilege which draws cost.

Alarms and Monitoring

Don’t be lazy and try to do things on your own as you are trying to save cost and experiment. Don’t turn on the Alarms and extra monitoring. This is a chargeable feature.

Terminate all before new

Always terminate previous instance if you want to launch a new one. Check that it is completely deleted. Sometimes when you Terminate (means Delete) your running instance it happens so that EBS attached to it doesn’t stop and get deleted. This is a chargeable place as you have kept 10 GB of Cloud disk space without any usage. Always check for EBS section after terminating instance.

Elastic IP

Elastic IP: This is the place where people get charged mostly. In this feature you can have 1 IP which will be yours unless you don’t release it. Deal is that you must keep it ‘Associated’ with some instance. You deleted the instance and didn’t ‘Dissociate’ IP and Released it; you will get charged.

 So, EIP running? YES >> Is it associated with some Instance? YES >> Fine >> No charges. 

Remember when you reboot instance, EIP can get dissociate from instance. You have to check that and re-associate if needed. Best is to avoid using EIP.

Services and Dormant accounts
  • If you use MySQL etc then avoid DynamoDB. Not needed. You will get charged without knowing
  • Avoid using services which you don’t actually need. For running a VPS; only EC2, EBS are needed. If you need IP then EIP at the most.
  • You got AWS account? Use it. You account might get deactivated. Running EC2 without any site or application? Don’t. You will get charged if you leave it running for long.
  • After signup and trying what you need and what not. Go to my account page and cancel the services which you don’t want. This will reduce danger of being charged.
  • Lastly. This service is for an year. After which some of the Free Tier services will remain and others will be charged at considerable rates.

What is never Chargeable?

1. Regions. You can select any region for your instance (server). AWS names all regions under Free Tier.
2. AMI: Operating system i.e. any AMI which is from community and STAR signed in Quick Start are not chargeable. Rest are.
3. EIP: IP associated and running with instance is not charged.
4. EBS: Elastic Block Storage i.e. disk space till 10 GB is not charged. EBS with an instance is not charged. Vice-versa both situations are charged.
5. Using any open source platform, tools, etc. is not chargeable.
6. Bandwidth till 15GB per month is not chargeable.

I tried to tell all you about what to do and what to not with AWS EC2 and other services in very simple language. You can go here for more technical information.

By Mrinal Buddekar

Data Manager and a technology enthusiast! Mrinal Buddekar is Pune based blogger who loves building server, websites, technology, and affiliate blogging.

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