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  5. Amazon Web Services Pricing: Is it a Wise Investment? [2022]

Amazon Web Services Pricing: Is it a Wise Investment? [2022]

Ryan Jones Ryan JonesWeb Hosting Expert

As Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the top cloud hosting providers in the industry, your natural concern may be that it’s going to be very expensive. Further worries may arise about just how difficult it is to navigate AWS’s complex platform.

I investigated whether this is really the case. In actuality, AWS offers high-performing cloud hosting for a wide range of prices, whether you’re on a budget or shopping on behalf of a big company.

That said, it pays to do your research – if you don’t, you may end up missing out on the huge savings that make AWS worth it. Read on for everything you need to know.

Short on Time? These Are Amazon Web Services’ Best Plans in October 2022:

  1. 2GB RAM / 1vCPU Lightsail instance ($10) – Budget preconfigured cloud VPS with simple billing
  2. t2.medium EC2 instance ($34) – Fully-flexible and customizable cloud instances
  3. AWS Amplify ($13) – Auto-scaling hosting for static apps with a powerful visual editor

See My Recommendations | Top Vendor Alternatives | FAQ

Amazon Web Services Features and Pricing Overview

While AWS’s platform can be used for many computing purposes, I’ve evaluated Amazon Lightsail, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, and AWS Amplify for hosting websites and apps of various sizes. AWS’s services are primarily unmanaged, and are suited to those with prior knowledge of hosting infrastructure.

Despite offering enterprise-grade services, AWS’ plans can be kept within a tight budget. You can get prices lower than many competing providers by taking advantage of special discounts. Significant savings are available for customers who reserve a cloud instance for one or three years. You can also purchase spare cloud capacity at reduced costs.

You can pay via all major credit and debit cards. While there is no money-back guarantee, the AWS free tier lets you try many services with no charge for a full year, with some restrictions. Thankfully, cancelling a service – or your entire account – is straightforward.

All the features of a service tend to be available even with the cheapest instances. But one potential issue lies with the complexity of AWS’s pricing: accidentally leaving an unneeded service running or scaled up when it doesn’t need to be can rack up charges, so be sure to keep a close eye on your usage and manage accordingly.

Amazon Lightsail

512GB RAM / 1vCPU 2GB RAM / 1vCPU 8GB RAM / 2vCPU 32GB RAM / 8vCPU
Initial term starting price $3.50 per month $10 per month $40 per month $160 per month
Price on renewal Same as above Same as above Same as above Same as above
vCPU cores 1 1 2 8
RAM 512MB 2GB 8GB RAM 32GB RAM
Storage 20GB SSD (temporary storage only) 60GB SSD (temporary storage only) 160GB SSD (temporary storage only) 640GB SSD (temporary storage only)
Bandwidth 1TB 3TB 5TB 7TB
Dedicated IPs 1 1 1 1
Data center locations 84 availability zones over 26 regions across the globe. Covers a total of 245 countries.

If you’re looking to keep costs down and server configuration time at a minimum while retaining some customizability and scalability, Amazon Lightsail may be right for you. It’s a cloud VPS with preconfigured networking, security, and access settings.

There’s a fair number of predefined plans to choose from, and you can modify resource levels at any time. Amazon Lightsail also supports easy-to-install server images for hosting stacks and content management systems like WordPress.

512GB RAM / 1vCPU

Amazon Lightsail description
Amazon Lightsail is quick to deploy and set up

Amazon Lightsail’s entry-level plan is available for a low $3.50 per month. While you’ll only be getting 512MB of RAM and one burstable vCPU to work with, this may be enough for a landing page or a text-heavy blog. You’ll also get 1TB transfer and 20GB SSD storage.

It’s important to note that storage included with Amazon Lightsail is temporary system storage – this kind of storage is deleted upon termination of your instance and cannot be backed up. If you need to keep persistent storage, you’ll have to pay extra for it.

That said, this plan gets you access to all Amazon Lightsail features, including server monitoring, an easy-to-use management console, and a static IP address. This is pretty good value, especially for a price that’s lower than many competitors can offer.

2GB RAM / 1vCPU

Amazon Lightsail's available OS and web apps
Amazon Lightsail allows you to install popular software with a few clicks

This plan provides you with more resources for your buck and should be suitable for most low-traffic websites. At just $10 per month, it’s very affordable.

Thanks to Amazon Lightsail’s inherent flexibility, you can scale up either temporarily or permanently if you experience an increase in traffic. For this reason, the mid-tier plan is a good choice for growing sites with frequent surges in traffic, such as for news or e-commerce.

Another advantage is that Amazon Lightsail’s low prices require no commitment. Some competing hosts can offer a similar price for a comparable server, but only if you pay up front for multiple years of hosting.

8GB RAM / 2vCPU

Amazon Lightsail feature list
Many of Amazon Lightsail’s free features cost a premium elsewhere

If you need more resources for a popular site, this plan may be right for you. This plan offers an increase in processing power with an extra CPU core, but it comes at a significantly higher price.

Every Amazon Lightsail plan includes a free, preconfigured cloud firewall, which can be adjusted further to meet your specific needs. There’s also the AWS Trusted Advisor, an AI which detects security vulnerabilities and suggests potential fixes.

While this plan doesn’t offer value for money on par with the preceding options, pricing is still competitive with other popular cloud services.

32GB RAM / 8vCPU

Description of Kamatera's scalability, reliability, and security features
If needed, you can easily scale to AWS’s powerful EC2 instances

This is the best possible Lightsail instance, but also the most expensive. It’s best suited to businesses or resellers requiring hosting for multiple high-traffic sites.

You can enhance performance and reliability further by connecting to a CDN, adding a managed database, and more. It’s also possible to build a cloud-based network of duplicate Lightsail instances with load balancers to serve very heavy traffic.

Unfortunately, Amazon Lightsail is a little too expensive here. You can build a similar server with Kamatera for a significantly lower price, while enjoying a higher level of customizability and scalability.

Is Amazon Lightsail Right For You?

If you just need to run some sites with low to medium traffic, Amazon’s Lightsail service is AWS’ easiest option. As much of each instance is preconfigured for you, you can rapidly spin up a VM (virtual machine), migrate your site, and begin serving visitors.

I’d recommend starting with the 2GB RAM / 1vCPU instance if you’re unsure about the quantity of resources you’ll require. You can always scale up or down as necessary from there. But if you’re looking for more flexible and powerful cloud services, take a look at Amazon EC2.

Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2)

t2.nano t2.medium m6g.xlarge m5n.2xlarge
Initial term starting price $0.0058 on-demand hourly cost ($4.23 monthly) $0.0464 on-demand hourly cost ($33.87 monthly) $0.154 on-demand hourly cost ($112.42 monthly) $0.476 on-demand hourly cost ($347.48 monthly)
Price on renewal Same as above Same as above Same as above Same as above
vCPU cores 1 2 4 8
RAM 512MB 4GB 16GB 32GB
Storage Available as an add-on Available as an add-on Available as an add-on Available as an add-on
Bandwidth Up to 1Gbps Up to 1Gbps Up to 10Gbps Up to 25Gbps
Dedicated IPs 1 free, additional IPs cost extra 1 free, additional IPs cost extra 1 free, additional IPs cost extra 1 free, additional IPs cost extra
Data center locations 84 availability zones over 26 regions across the globe. Covers a total of 245 countries.

Unlike Amazon Lightsail, Amazon EC2 encompasses a wide range of instances. Hardware types and resource quantities vary greatly. Some offer a balanced set of resources perfect for web hosting, while others specialize in more processing power or high availability with rapid access.

This variety may be enticing if you’re looking to set up multiple instance configurations, but EC2 can also simply be used for flexible web hosting, from basic prototypes to mission-critical websites that require the utmost in performance. EC2 is far less user-friendly than Lightsail, but much more scalable and customizable.

t2.nano

Description of Amazon EC2
AWS’s EC2 offers near total freedom and flexibility

If you’re looking for a cheap starting point for a lightweight site or prototype, the T2 series is your best bet. The t2.nano is the least expensive of the bunch.

The t2.nano only offers 512MB RAM and 1 vCPU which may be bursted for short periods, similar to the basic Amazon Lightsail plan. How long you can burst for is governed by CPU credits, which are accrued when you’re using less CPU than a baseline of around 6%.

No persistent storage is included with EC2 instances, so you’ll likely have to purchase some Amazon Elastic Block Storage. Despite this, the t2.nano is still very affordable, especially if you reserve the instance for 1 or 3 years. This lowers the price to just a few dollars per month.

t2.medium

Description of AWS EC2 pricing structures
Amazon EC2 can be made cheaper by taking advantage of special payment plans

The t2.medium is from the same series as the virtual machine above, yet it offers more substantial resources. It includes 2vCPU and 4GB RAM, which can comfortably serve a wide array of sites.

T2.medium features a burstable CPU for short increases in computing power as well as some other improvements. You’ll earn more CPU credits during periods where your baseline CPU power is under 40%.

This instance does not offer the best value if you’d like to pay on-demand, so reserving AWS’ t2.medium for 1 or 3 years will get you better prices.

m6g.xlarge

Amazon Web Services EC2 scalability and reliability features
Amazon EC2 allows you to rapidly adapt to changes in traffic

If you need to run one or multiple sites that experience consistently high traffic, and that require flawless performance for, say, e-commerce transactions, you’ll likely need dedicated resources. With the m6g.xlarge, you get the power of 4vCPU and 16GB RAM.

It’s also worth noting that this instance offers a baseline bandwidth of 1.25Gbps, which can be bursted up to 10Gbps with credits that have been accrued during periods of lower traffic.

The m6g line uses AWS’s own Graviton processors, which offer solid performance for money. Overall, this VM is less expensive than much of the competiton, even if you choose to pay on demand.

m5n.2xlarge

Description of Amazon EC2's security features
The AWS Nitro System offers this instance an extra layer of security

If your company or organization needs the best in performance, you’ll likely need to look at Amazon EC2’s high-end options. The m5n.2xlarge fits this bill, offering 8vCPU and 32GB RAM.

This virtual server benefits from impressive 2nd generation Intel Xeon processors, along with a high baseline bandwidth of 8.25Gbps. If necessary, your bandwidth can be bursted to a whopping 25Gbps – enough to serve massive traffic spikes.

While this is the most expensive instance on the list, you can cut prices down by over 50% if you reserve the m5n.2xlarge for three years.

Is Amazon EC2 Right For You?

You can get AWS’s flexible EC2 instances for much lower prices if you commit to a long-term plan. You may want to start out by paying as you go, but once you’ve established what you need, you should look into a longer commitment as it will save you money in the long term.

The t2.medium plan will likely suit you if your company needs to keep costs down, while adapting to a growing audience.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

Case Study One Case Study Two Case Study Three
Initial term starting price Free for a year $45.07/mo $184.32/mo
Price on renewal $9.12/mo for the same storage and bandwidth usage Same as above Same as above
Storage 5GB 3GB 5GB
Outbound data transfer 100GB/mo 500GB/mo 2TB/mo
Data center locations 84 availability zones over 26 regions across the globe. Covers a total of 245 countries.

If you’re just looking to host a static site, such as a landing page or marketing site that doesn’t require any server-side scripting, Amazon S3 is certainly worth considering. This service provides object storage solutions called buckets, which can easily be configured for web hosting. You are charged by the GB stored and your overall outbound data transfer.

There’s no need for any server administration – your storage bucket will automatically scale to serve traffic with fast page loading speeds.

As there’s no defined plans with this service, I’ve instead provided three case studies that vary in budget.

Case Study One

Description of the AWS free tier
Try AWS’s cloud hosting without paying a dime

Let’s say you’re a freelancer, developer, or an otherwise small business who just wants a basic static webpage to advertise their services. If this is all you need, the AWS free tier may be enough.

With the free tier, you’ll get 5GB storage for an entire year at no charge. Additionally, outbound data transfer is limited to 100GB per month. Depending on the overall size of your site, you can serve a fair number of visitors with this.

If your site fits the restrictions, the AWS free tier can be a great deal. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to pay fees if you exceed the data transfer limit, so it’s best to monitor this closely.

Case Study Two

Amazon S3 reliability and data storage features
Another major advantage of Amazon S3 is its overall reliability

If you expect a moderate amount of traffic on a much larger static website, you should consider paying for an appropriately-sized storage bucket. For average-sized web hosting purposes, I’d recommend the S3 Standard bucket, with 3GB of storage and a projected 500GB outbound data transfer. This offers great performance for frequently accessed files.

The main chunk of your costs will arise from outbound data transfer. The total cost of your bucket will scale naturally alongside your traffic. A traffic spike may cause a significant increase in costs, so keep this in mind.

Case Study Three

Amazon S3 security and management features
Amazon S3’s security management tools are easy to use

If you’re looking to serve a lot of large media files – hosted on separate storage so that they don’t slow down an existing WordPress site – you can get a 5GB bucket with 2TB of outbound data transfer for around $184 per month.

An additional advantage of an S3 bucket lies with its high level of security. Support is available for server-side and client-side encryption, robust identity and access management, and more.

You can also clone your bucket in another AWS region, which has two major effects. First, visitors within that region will get better performance. Second, you now have a redundant copy of your files or data in a separate location, minimizing the chances of data loss.

Is Amazon S3 Right For You?

Amazon S3 is a useful option for hosting static sites or serving files. It costs less than other AWS hosting options if you don’t need anything other than storage.

For web apps and sites that require ongoing development, AWS Amplify is a better option.

AWS Amplify

Case Study One Case Study Two Case Study Three
Initial term starting price Free for a year $13.14/mo $168.83/mo
Price on renewal $12.37/mo for the same storage and bandwidth usage Same as above Same as above
Storage 5GB 6GB 10GB
Outbound data transfer 15GB 20GB 1TB
Monthly build time 1000 minutes 1000 minutes 1500 minutes
Data center locations 84 availability zones over 26 regions across the globe. Covers a total of 245 countries.

AWS Amplify offers Back-End as a Service (BaaS) for single-page web apps and static websites. It offers a visual editor and a command-line interface, supported by integrated workflows for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD).

To put it simply, AWS Amplify aims to speed up and enhance the development process for static web apps. It also holds many of the advantages of Amazon S3 – it will automatically scale alongside traffic, along with offering very fast performance. It should work well for developers who need an agile web app development platform without the need for server management.

Again, there are no defined plans for this service, so I’ve come up with a few case studies.

Case Study One

Resource limits on the AWS Amplify free trial
1000 free build minutes per month lets you test AWS Amplify thoroughly

If you’re an amateur developer or a small team looking to try out a prototype, the AWS Amplify free trial may be all you need. Like Amazon S3, this service is part of the AWS Free tier – you can try it for a full year.

Of course, there are some restrictions. You are limited to 5GB storage per month, along with a total of 15GB outbound data transfer. Additionally, you are allowed 1000 build minutes per month – this refers to the time spent building and deploying your code commits.

While these limitations give you plenty of room if you’re part of a small team, it’s likely too restrictive for mid-sized apps and large development teams.

Case Study Two

AWS Amplify development features
AWS Amplify simplifies static app development

Let’s say you’re a startup with a small web app with a decent number of daily users. Your team commits new code daily, and you use 6GB in monthly storage. With outgoing data transfer of around 20GB, you’ll only need to pay around $13 a month.

As you can see, AWS Amplify allows growing startups to stick to a tight budget. All you’ll need to do is focus on development. It provides plenty of tools for this purpose – the visual editor can be used to create a backend and UI, and there’s support for popular static app frameworks such as React and Angular.

Case Study Three

AWS Amplify feature list
Amplify works in combination with other AWS services

AWS Amplify also works well for large development teams of popular web apps. An example may be a team who frequently commits new code, uses 10GB monthly storage, and an average outbound data transfer of 1TB.

The built-in CI/CD workflow allows you to avoid the common problems caused by several developers working at once – it’s easy to avoid code conflicts and deploy updates without issue. You can also create new environments from pull requests, allowing you to preview changes before deployment.

As AWS automatically scales to meet demand, it works well for apps with surging traffic. It can easily deal with large traffic spikes, and high data transfer loads remain relatively affordable compared to traditional web hosting plans.

Is AWS Amplify Right For You?

AWS Amplify can suit a team of any size, offering a flexible environment with plenty of useful tools to speed up development.

That said, it’s only suitable for web apps and static sites that require ongoing development. If this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, I’d recommend checking out Amazon S3.

While AWS is a top-quality host, it’s also quite expensive, and not always your best option. One of these other recommended hosts may prove to be a better fit.

Starting price Main Pro Main Con
Amazon Web Services $3.50 Wide variety of cloud hosting services Lack of affordable support or server management
Kamatera $4.00 Custom-built cloud VPS at low prices without commitment Offers no discounted prices for long-term hosting
Liquid Web $15.00 Extensive server management and responsive support guaranteed Weaker performance and only three data centers worldwide
Cloudways $10.00 Managed services and support for highly technical cloud hosts, including AWS Very expensive, especially for full server management

Kamatera

Kamatera offers scalable cloud hosting with flexible hourly billing. Unlike AWS, you can custom-build your server from the ground up, setting the exact resources you need.

Prices start low for basic servers, and there are many cases where Kamatera proves to be significantly cheaper than AWS’s high prices for on-demand hosting. That said, AWS offers much better value in the long term thanks to its impressive savings plans.

Liquid Web

If you’re not a developer, Liquid Web offers fully-managed cloud VPS with rapid technical support. AWS lacks this kind of support unless you pay several thousands of dollars per month.

Liquid Web is naturally higher in cost than AWS due to the included managed service. But while Liquid Web offers a robust infrastructure, it can’t really compete with AWS’ huge global network.

Cloudways

Cloudways is a unique provider. It doesn’t actually offer hosting on its own infrastructure – instead, Cloudways provides management and technical support on a variety of cloud computing networks, including AWS.

You’ll have access to AWS’ industry-leading infrastructure with the user-friendly Cloudways hosting platform. You’ll never need to interact with AWS itself. However, this is the most expensive alternative, and you’ll need to pay even more for the top managed service.

Which Amazon Web Services Hosting Type is Right For Me?

All in all, AWS offers some of the best cloud performance available. If you have a small project, you may even be able to get away with using the free tier for the first year.

Prices are lower than the competition for both small businesses and large enterprises alike, especially if you reserve your cloud instance for a year or more. On-demand pricing isn’t as good, but it’s still competitive in many cases.

If you’re still unsure which AWS service best fits your needs, here are my recommendations.

When you just need to get a few websites online rapidly, I’d recommend Amazon Lightsail. Many settings are preconfigured for you, and it’s easy to manage overall costs.

On the other hand, Amazon EC2 offers far more flexibility and customizability. You can get a great deal on a powerful cloud instance if you’re willing to reserve it long term.

If you’re a developer looking to host a static site or web app, I’d choose Amazon S3 or AWS Amplify.

Finally, if you’re looking for a highly customizable cloud VPS without a long-term commitment, Kamatera is a solid alternative to Amazon Web Services. It tends to offer comparable or better prices for on-demand hosting than AWS, especially for bigger servers.

FAQ

What are the different pricing models for AWS?Amazon Web Services offers pay-as-you-go pricing for the majority of its services. There are some exceptions – Amazon Lightsail incurs a flat monthly fee, while Amazon EC2 instances can be reserved for 1 or 3 years.How is storage typically priced on AWS cloud?Storage with Amazon Web Services is usually priced by the GB stored. You may also need to pay for data retrieval, data transfer, and management operations depending on your chosen service. Check out the S3 section above for some pricing examples.Is an Amazon Web Services account free?The AWS free tier allows you to try out a variety of services completely free for a year. This includes every service we’ve outlined in this article, such as AWS Amplify. If this is your first time setting up a website, you may want to consult our complete guide to building and launching your first site beforehand.How much does Amazon Web Services cost?Small servers with AWS can be purchased for low prices, especially if you take advantage of long-term plans. But if you’re just looking to run a low-traffic site, you’ll likely get a better deal with a quality budget host. Check out our list of the best web hosting services for 2022 to see our top picks.

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