Web Hosting On AWS: A Guide To Amazon Web Services

A Guide To Amazon Web Services

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.

One of the biggest players is Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting and in this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about Amazon Web services.

What Is AWS Hosting?

The global eCommerce giant Amazon provides these hosting services. They provide over 200 cloud-based products of which AWS hosting is only one.

AWS Homepage

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 web services which is why they’re so well respected, and they are a HIPAA compliant website hosting.

Why Use AWS Hosting

The web hosting market is very competitive. AWS is well-established and offers a broad range of benefits.

AWS Features

Take a moment to consider these benefits as you search for the right hosting provider.

They include:

  • 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 website is solid.
  • Performance: There’s a huge infrastructure supporting AWS 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 which is known to be easily scalable. For businesses whose traffic surges at certain times (e.g., the holiday season), it’s important to have a web hosting plan that accommodates these needs.

why-use-AWS-hosting

  • 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 host 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 AWS hosting because its servers are set up in availability zones so there’s always a server nearby.
  • Compatibility: AWS hosting is compatible with all the main content management systems (CMS), platforms, and programming languages.

Drawbacks To AWS Hosting

AWS hosting offers significant benefits. However, it’s not right for everyone.

drawbacks-of-AWS

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 AWS hosting is very functional it isn’t intuitive. Many people find themselves confused when they’re setting up and using this hosting service.
  • Many web hosting providers other than Amazon have IT staff available to handle this for you.
  • If you are using AWS you will need to learn yourself or hire your own 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.

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, database services).

AWS is the largest cloud platform in existence today.

Amazon was also one of the earliest companies to provide cloud-based services.

These are two of the reasons why they’re so highly respected.

AWS hosting is different from traditional hosting because your website is stored in the AWS cloud (a network of virtually and physically connected servers) instead of a single server.

AWS Cloud

This means that it isn’t dependent on a single machine like traditional hosting.

Therefore when one server goes down your site’s performance isn’t affected.

There are also other cloud hosts available if you’re looking for something other than web hosting on AWS.

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.

AWS Solutions

To determine which option is best for hosting a website it’s important to look through what’s available.

Simple Website Hosting

This hosting consists of a single web server running either a Content Management System (a.k.a., CMS) (e.g., WordPress), an eCommerce application (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.

Magento Homepage

Simple website hosting is best for sites that have low to medium traffic, frequent content changes, and multiple authors (e.g., blogs, marketing websites, 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 common applications (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 own web server, DNS, networking, and resources through a single console

Single Page Web App Hosting

A single-page web app (a.k.a., static app) is one that requires only a single load.

Any other action the user makes uses CSS, HTML, or JavaScript, all of which come pre-loaded in their browser.

These web apps have desktop app-like performance along with the same benefits of simple static websites (e.g., low AWS cost, high-reliability levels, no server administration, scalability).

Performance

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

Simple static websites are a great way to deliver files (e.g., videos, images, HTML, JavaScript) to your visitors that don’t have any server-side application code (e.g., PHP, ASP.NET).

ASP.NET

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 AWS infrastructure

Other AWS Hosting Options

Amazon offers a multitude of services aimed at helping you run a smoothly operating business online.

Amazon Light sail And S3

There are two other “hosting” options you may wish to consider here.

Although these won’t allow you to host an entire website, you may still find them useful.

They include:

  • Amazon Lightsail: This is great for large businesses that wish to launch and manage their own web server.
  • You’ll get everything you need to start your site (e.g., a static IP, a virtual machine, DNS management, SSD-based storage, data transfer) at a price that you can budget for each month.
  • If this hosting has the 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 application template or operating system that’s best for your website and in less than a minute your virtual private server is ready.
  • Then you can use the Lightsail console to easily manage your IP addresses, DNS, and web server.
  • Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Solution): Which is great hosting 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.

You Are Getting Lots Of Traffic

To manage this, Enterprise websites use multiple AWS 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 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 really 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).

SSL 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 who you obtain one through.

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.

Lets Encrypt

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 AWS 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.

Conclusion

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 plan with platform support.

If this is the case, you should know that there are many other great web hosting 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 2022.

Matt-Author-Img

Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

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