Regardless of whether you’re building your first website or your millionth, you’re still faced with the important question of which web hosting provider to use.
This can be challenging because there are so many options you can feel overwhelmed. I’ve been there and I’ve had to try out more than a few in my career.
One of the biggest players is AWS cloud hosting. In this guide, drawing from my personal experiences, I will walk you through everything you need to know about the AWS Free Tier, helping you make an informed decision for your web hosting needs.
Table Of Contents
- Quick Summary
- What Is AWS Hosting?
- Why Use AWS Hosting
- Drawbacks To AWS Hosting
- How AWS Hosting Works
- Types Of AWS Hosting
- SSL Certification With AWS Hosting
- Should You Try AWS Hosting?
- AWS hosting is a cloud service by Amazon, offering over 200 products including web hosting and storage services.
- It provides various hosting types like simple website hosting, single-page web app hosting, and enterprise web hosting.
- While AWS hosting offers robust and scalable solutions, it may not be suitable for everyone due to its management requirements and varying costs.
What Is AWS Hosting?
AWS hosting is a cloud hosting service provided by the global eCommerce website giant Amazon. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. They provide over 200 cloud-based products of which AWS hosting is only one.
Besides offering web hosting, they also offer cloud services (e.g., storage, databases).
As of today, their cloud storage platform is the largest one available.
Amazon is also one of the earliest companies to provide these dedicated hosting services which is why they’re so well respected, and are HIPAA-compliant website hosting.
Why Use AWS Hosting
The web hosting market is very competitive. AWS Services management console is well-established and offers a broad range of benefits with their cloud hosting and VPS hosting services.
Take a moment to consider these benefits as you search for the right hosting provider.
- Security: Amazon shares its knowledge about running an eCommerce website in its AWS services.
- They’ve included everything in their hosting to help you create a thorough site like theirs.
- This is an important step toward ensuring that your static website is solid.
- Performance: There’s a huge AWS infrastructure supporting its hosting services. Therefore the sites that use AWS hosting perform well (e.g., load fast, almost 100% uptime).
- Flexibility: AWS hosting is a type of cloud hosting that is known to be easily scalable. For businesses whose website traffic surges at certain times (e.g., the holiday season), it’s important to have a web hosting plan that accommodates these needs.
- Payment model: AWS hosting uses a pay-as-you-go model. This is great for businesses whose traffic ebbs and flows because you only pay for what you need.
- Global footprint: Although you might not think about it, you should know that geography plays a role in how your web hosting service performs.
- This is why your site loads slowly for people who are located far away from your host’s servers.
- This won’t be a factor when using Amazon Web Services hosting because its servers are set up in availability zones so there’s always a virtual server nearby.
- Compatibility: AWS hosting is compatible with all the main content management systems (CMS), platforms, and programming languages.
Drawbacks To AWS Hosting
The AWS hosting provider offers significant benefits. However, it’s not right for everyone.
Some of the reasons why you may not want to use AWS hosting include:
- Confusing pricing: Although the pay-as-you-go model is one of the best flexible pricing models out there, it can still be confusing. You may never know how much you owe each month until you’re billed.
- Many other web hosting providers provide straightforward pricing structures which is great if you have a strict budget.
- Flexibility: While Amazon Web Services hosting is very functional it isn’t intuitive. Many people find themselves confused when they’re setting up and using the hosting services.
- Many Amazon S3 alternatives have IT staff available to handle this for you.
- If you are using Amazon Web Services free tier limits you will need to learn yourself or hire your IT staff.
- Vulnerability: While AWS hosting promises high performance and impressive security, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever have any issues. Some sites have faced data leaks and hacks.
- There have also been outages occasionally.
How AWS Hosting Works
Amazon Web Services (AWS) are provided by Amazon.
This is just one of the many services that are part of the larger platform.
Overall, Amazon provides more than 200 cloud-based products (e.g., web hosting, cloud storage, and database services).
Amazon was also one of the earliest companies to provide cloud hosting services.
These are two of the reasons Amazon ec2 is so highly respected.
Amazon Web Services hosting is different from traditional hosting because your website is stored in the AWS cloud (a network of Virtual Private Servers and physically connected servers) instead of a dedicated server.
This means that it isn’t dependent on a single machine like traditional hosting providers.
Therefore when one server goes down your website’s performance isn’t affected.
Types Of AWS Hosting
There are a variety of AWS hosting services available. This is why you’ll find everything from small businesses to governmental organizations hosted here.
To determine which web hosting company is best for hosting a website it’s important to look through what’s available.
Simple Website Hosting
This provider consists of a single web server running either a Content Management System (a.k.a., CMS) (e.g., WordPress), eCommerce web applications (e.g., Magento), or a development stack (e.g., LAMP).
With this software in place, you can easily build, modify, and serve your website’s content.
Simple website hosting is best for sites that have low to medium traffic, frequent content changes, and multiple authors (e.g., blogs, marketing websites, and content websites).
They’re a simple starting point from which websites can grow.
Although low cost, you’ll need IT administration of the web server, and you won’t be able to scale beyond a few servers.
This hosting is best for:
- Websites built on a common web application (e.g., Magento, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla)
- Websites built on popular development stacks that won’t scale past 5 servers (e.g., Node.Js, LAMP, MEAN, LEMP)
- Customers who want to manage their web server, DNS, networking, and resources through a single AWS console
Single Page Web App Hosting
A single-page web application (a.k.a., static web apps) requires only a single load.
These web apps have desktop app-like performance along with the same benefits of simple static websites (e.g., low Amazon Web Services cost, high-reliability levels, no server administration, scalability).
They also offer blazing-fast performance and dynamic functionality all at a low cost.
This hosting is best for:
- Websites built with single-page app frameworks (e.g., Nuxt, React JS, Angular JS, Vue JS)
- Websites built with static site generators (e.g., Hugo, Gatsby JS, Jekyll, React-static)
- Progressive web apps (PWAs)
- Websites without server-side scripting (e.g., ASP.NET, PHP)
- Websites with serverless backends
Simple Static Website Hosting
A static website is inexpensive, highly reliable, and doesn’t require server administration.
You can also scale to handle enterprise-level traffic without any additional work.
These sites are best for:
- Personal or marketing sites
- Websites that don’t change frequently and only have a few authors
- Websites that only occasionally get high volumes of traffic
- Customers who don’t want to manage their own AWSs infrastructure
Other AWS Hosting Options
Amazon offers a multitude of popular services aimed at helping you run a smoothly operating business online.
There are two other “hosting” options you may wish to consider here.
Although the web hosting services won’t allow you to host your website entirely, you may still find them useful.
- Amazon Lightsail: This is great for large businesses that wish to launch and manage their web server.
- You’ll get everything you need to start your site (e.g., a static IP, a VPS hosting machine, DNS management, SSD-based storage, and data transfer) at a price that you can budget for each month.
- If the web hosting services have features you need, but you’re worried about setting it up and using it, don’t be.
- It only takes a few clicks to start using it. Simply choose the web application template or operating system that’s best for your website and in less than a minute your virtual private server resources are ready.
- Then you can use the Lightsail AWS console to easily manage your IP addresses, DNS, and a web server.
- Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Solution): This offers great web hosting services for small businesses that only need to store an retrieve information online.
- It’s designed to be easy to use and delivers 99.99% durability.
Enterprise Web Hosting
Enterprise websites are great for sites that must dynamically scale resources to support high volumes of traffic.
To manage this, Enterprise websites use multiple Amazon Web Services services. Typically, they’ll also span multiple across at least two data centers (a.k.a., Availability Zones).
This all requires more management and administration than simple websites.
Therefore Enterprise Hosting service is best for:
- Large websites that need multiple web servers (e.g., Nordstrom, Lamborghini, Coursera)
- Application-heavy websites (e.g., marketing and media sites, social media sites, travel sites)
- Websites that sustain high CPU utilization for any length of time
- Websites that require external databases, autoscaling, or load balancing for scalability
- Customers who want to be in control of their web server (e.g., configuring it, administration responsibilities)
SSL Certification With AWS Hosting
One thing that all websites should have today is an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer certificate).
This gives you the assurance that your website is secure (you’ll see https:// and a padlock symbol in your address bar) and gives you a boost in Google’s ratings.
SSL uses encryption to securely transfer data between a user and a website.
There are three types of SSL certificates:
- Domain Validated Certificate (a.k.a., Transport Layer Security Certificate or TLS): This is the most basic SSL certificate.
- Only the applicant’s name is validated which is why these sites are so easy to hijack and redirect visitors to a fake site.
- If you have a basic website, this is the only certification you need.
- Organization Validated (OV) Certificate: These mid-level business certificates are authenticated with nine validation checks.
- Therefore visitors can rest assured that the applicant and the identity of the organization (e.g. a business, nonprofit, or government organization) are identified.
- Extended Validation (EV) Certificate: This is the highest-level SSL certificate.
- It proves that you’re the legal owner of the website. Many high-profile businesses have this because they’ve proven an effective way to prevent phishing scams.
The price of an SSL certificate will vary depending on your chosen hosting providers.
If you want to do it for free, you can do so through Let’s Encrypt, but you can also pay a web services company to do it for you.
It’s easier to pay for the SSL certificate because while Let’s Encrypt is an official Certificate Authority (CA) you’ll need to renew your certificate every three months and, unfortunately, the process is complicated.
When you use Amazon Web Services SSL certificates are inexpensive and last for a year.
You can rest assured that these certificates are legitimate.
However, if you choose not to use Amazon Web Services you need to do your research to find a certification company you can trust.
Should You Try AWS Hosting?
Although AWS hosting is a great option with many wonderful features, you may not yet be sold on it.
You may prefer a straightforward, low-cost web hosting plan with platform support.
If this is the case, you should know that there are many other great web hosting important options available for you to choose from.
Take a moment to check them out for yourself before hurrying into your decision by having a look at our guide Best SEO Web Hosting Service: Top Companies In 2024.