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How To Get The Most Out of AWS Free Tier | Free VPS Server

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Today I will explain how to make efficient use of AWS EC2 Free Tier. I was using DigitalOcean 512M server for my blog and paying them $5 each month and it was working absolutely fine for my site. I then realized why should not try AWS Free Tier.

AWS Free Tier is providing 12 month free service with some limitations mainly 750 hours of “t2.micro” EC2 instance (1G memory) which make it a whole month, 30GB General Purpose SSD or Magnetic storage (EBS), 15 GB of bandwidth and many other free services like RDS, S3 etc which we discuss later. To see what included in Free Tier you should read below before start deploying any thing.

http://aws.amazon.com/free

To get start you just need to sign-up for new AWS account and for it you just need a valid Credit Card, Phone no and email address. Once you finished setting up and verifying the account make sure to confirm whether you are eligible for Free Tier or not by visiting “Billing & Cost Management” where you should find You are eligible for the AWS Free Usage Tier. See the Getting Started Guide AWS Free Usage Tier to learn how to get started with the free usage tier. under “Alerts & Notifications”.

Now the tricky part is how to distribute the limited resources we have and design a good architecture which provide decent performance, capacity and basic disaster recovery. Below is my configuration which I used to start with.

  1. “Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS (HVM), SSD Volume Type” based “t2.micro” EC2 instance. (HVM perform slightly better then PV)
  2. 20GB General Purpose SSD for Root volume which also hold your application data. (/var/www)
  3. 10GB General Purpose SSD as BACKUP disk where we store on-site backups.
  4. “db.t2.micro” instance for RDS with 20GB database storage.
  5. 20GB of backup storage for RDS database backups / snapshots.
  6. Mount 5GB S3 bucket (different region then server) for off-site backups.

This type of configuration is a good start for small sites or personal blogs etc which provide decent performance, capacity and reliable disaster recovery while ensuring you still fall under Free Tier limits.

Now most you are also looking for a static IP for your server so good news is that you can also allocate an EIP and attach it with your instance and Amazon wont charge you for it unless it is associated with a running instance. As you are done with setting up the server its time for one more step and this involve requesting Amazon to white-list your EIP and create relative rDNS record so you can send emails from your application and server.

https://aws.amazon.com/forms/ec2-email-limit-rdns-request?catalog=true&isauthcode=true

Lastly an important point is to keep your eyes on your AWS account billing and make you nothing is adding to your bill. You can do it by going to “Billing & Cost Management”.

Tools I used for backups are below.

On-Site Backup: mysqldump & rsnapshot

Off-Site Backup: S3backer, duplicity, s3cmd

Note that do not take EBS Snaphots as Amazon is providing only 1GB snapshot storage for free. EBS Snapshots are crucial for your DR but unless your are ready to pay don’t use them.

UPDATE:

You can also create a CloudWatch monitor which will send email notification to you when your monthly cost for any service will be higher then $0. Again you need to visit “Billing & Cost Management” and under “Alerts & Notifications” you will find a message Your account is enabled for monitoring estimated charges. Set your first billing alarm to receive an e-mail when charges reach a threshold you define.So just click on Set your first billing alarm and setup a Alarm with ‘0’ value and your email address, Voila.

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