Amazon Web Services Hosting Costs: What Is AWS Pricing?

AWS Server Pricing

Amazon’s pay-as-you go model, is ideal for anyone starting off with a low budget and wanting a scalable infrastructure that can take their project to new heights.

But, many developers avoid cloud hosting platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) because they find the pricing too confusing.

With different solutions offered and pricing based on usage rather than predefined packages, it’s no surprise why many think AWS’s costs are a complete mystery.

No matter if you’re thinking of using AWS for data storage, data processing with computing tools or as a hosting solution, we’ve demystified the costs below so you know what kind of bill to expect each month.

So let’s take a look at the real costs of using Amazon’s most popular services.

Simplifying AWS’s Pricing

AWS pricing varies based on the resources you use. The only service that Amazon offers with fixed packages and pricing is Amazon Lightsail.

AWS Pricing

While AWS cloud services can be used for numerous computing purposes, we’ve evaluated some of the most popular services for hosting websites and apps of various sizes, including:

  • Amazon Lightsail
  • Amazon EC2
  • AWS Databases
  • Amazon S3
  • AWS Amplify

The key to predicting your AWS costs each month comes down to keeping an eye on what resources you’re using.

Amazon’s services are primarily unmanaged so you need some technical chops in order to use them appropriately and efficiently.

You can also keep prices down my taking advantage of special discounts or reserving a cloud instance for between one and three years.

If you’re just starting out, you can also take a look at the AWS free tier to help you get started.

Understanding The Terminology

If you’re just starting out, you might find all of the terminology is a blocker to you understanding what each service includes and what resources you’ll need.

AWS Jargon

Is reserved, on-demand or a spot instance better for your project?

What about a savings plan?

It can feel like you’re in way over your head and not sure how much things will end up costing simply because of all the technical jargon used.

It’s worth taking the time to develop a background knowledge on all of AWS’ offerings so these terms can be less confusing.

It’s outside the scope of this article to dig into all of these terms right know but you can check out these resources to get you started:

Utilizing Billing & Tagging To Track Your AWS Costs

Once you start using AWS, you’ll need to keep a close eye on where your money is going within the AWS platform.

You can easily achieve this by using the tagging function that most AWS services include.

AWS Tagging

It’s as simple as creating a tag for each of your projects.

When you check the AWS Cost Explorer, you’ll then be able to see a cost breakdown for each service and how much of the total cost was attributed to each of your projects.

Without using this functionality, you’ll have no idea if you’re overspending on AWS resources for certain projects.

With that said, let’s start breaking down the costs for AWS’ commons services.

Costs For Amazon Lightsail

If you’re using a common CMS like WordPress, Drupal or Magento and you’re looking for enterprise-grade cloud hosting, Amazon Lightsail is worth checking out for your website hosting.

Drupal Homepage

It has over 84 availability zones covering 26 regions and 245 countries around the world.

Like many other cloud hosting providers, you can choose between Linux or Windows servers and the final costs will vary depending on the resources included in your plan.

Memory Monthly Cost (USD) vCPU Cores SSD Storage Data Transfer Operating System
512 MB $3.50 1 20 GD 1 TB Linux/Unix
1 GB $5 1 40 GB 2 TB Linux/Unix
2 GB $10 1 60 GB 3 TB Linux/Unix
4 GB $20 2 80 GB 4 TB Linux/Unix
8 GB $40 2 160 GB 5 TB Linux/Unix
16 GB $80 4 320 GB 6 TB Linux/Unix
32 GB $160 8 640 GB 7 TB Linux/Unix
512 MB $8 1 30 GB 1 TB Windows
1 GB $12 1 40 GB 2 TB Windows
2 GB $20 1 60 GB 3 TB Windows
4 GB $40 2 80 GB 4 TB Windows
8 GB $70 2 160 GB 5 TB Windows
16 GB $120 4 320 GB 6 TB Windows
32 GB $240 8 640 GB 7 TB Windows

Lightsail is perhaps the only hosting service Amazon offers which has predefined plans. However, if you exceed the storage limits or data transfer available on your plan, Amazon will charge additional fees to cover the difference.

Is Amazon Lightsail Right For You?

If you want to keep both your costs and the time you spend configuring a server low, then Amazon Lightsail is ideal for you.

Amazon Lightsail

It also allows you to enjoy the level of customizability and scalability your project needs without you being too bogged down but maintaining your server infrastructure.

Essentially, it operated like a cloud VPS with preconfigured networking settings, security and access control too.

You can also modify the amount of resources you need at anytime so your hosting can scale alongside your project.

However, if you need more flexible and powerful cloud services, Amazon EC2 is worth looking into instead.

Costs For Compute Instances: EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

Due to its flexibility and power, Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing) is one of the most popular AWS services. It allows you to use dedicated and on-demand resources.

Amazon EC2

The two most common approaches to EC2 pricing are:

  • Opt to use on-demand instances and then pay according to your usage amount.
  • Use a savings plan of one to three years and reduce costs compared to on-demand services.

Costs also vary depending on what type of EC2 instance you decide to use.

Save More Money

There are five categories of Amazon EC2 instances you could choose from:

  • General Purpose Instances: Great if you’re new to cloud computing and looking for a wide balance between computing power, memory and storage. Suitable for most AWS workloads.
  • Compute Optimized Instances: Ideal for compute-intensive workloads that require higher computing power. These instances deliver high performance at a cost-effective price.
  • Memory-Optimized Instances: Ideal for memory-intensive workloads that are required to process large datasets at a very fast speed e.g. big data analytics or anyone running on Hadoop or Apache Spark.

Storage

  • Accelerated Computing Instances: Ideal for applications that require parallel processing such as graphic processing, floating-point calculators or data pattern matching.
  • Storage Optimized Instances: If you have high storage requirements, this is the ideal instance for you.
  • In particular if you have sequential read and write applications (like log file processing), this instance is designed to deliver a high number of low-latency operations each second.

Once you decide on the right type of instance, there are a few different ways you can approach pricing. In all instances, prices vary according to the resources required and the hourly rate.

Hourly Rate

Since AWS offers more than 489 instances, that’s a lot of pricing factors for us to summarize. So instead, we’ll talk you through the common ways people choose to pay and how you can earn some sweet savings and discounts.

On-Demand Instances

On-demand instances allow you to turn them on at any time and only pay for the period you use them. These are priced per hour and can often cost fractions of a cent per hour.

If you stop the instance, you don’t have to pay for it anymore, though you may still need to pay for its storage. Considering you also don’t need to set up a physical server, on-demand instances also offer the most convenience.

Since there is such great flexibility available, these instances can be the most expensive around but they get you started in less than a minute.

Reserved EC2 Instances

With a reserved instance, you can secure up to 75% off the cost of on-demand services. You need to reserve these instances for a specific length of time and typically, the longer the reservation period, the cheaper the cost.

Reserved EC2 Instances

You can start the reservation period for as little as 6 months or all the way up to 3 years. You can also choose to pay for the full period upfront or have a partial payment plan instead.

Spot Instances

If you want the cheapest pricing on Amazon EC2 services, spot instances can get be up to 90% cheaper when compared to on-demand services.

Spot instances are the most complex ones to figure out the pricing of as they work similarly to the stock market.

The more people using spot instances, the more expensive your instance will be.

Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

But, the reverse is also true, when fewer people are using spot instances on AWS, the cheaper your instance will be too.

You can also set the maximum price you’re willing to pay and Amazon will automatically run a server once an instance that fits your criteria becomes available.

We recommend spot instances for non-critical workloads as you can run them ad-hoc at any point in time.

It’s also worth noting that due to the price cap feature, Amazon can start and stop your instance at any point in time and such interruptions are not suitable for all types of projects.

However, if your project does not require 24/7 uptime, spot instances are the cheapest available by far.

Is Amazon EC2 Right For You?

Amazon EC2 is one of the most popular services in the AWS suite due to its great amount of customizability, flexibility and scalability.

Customizability

If you need more flexibility and power than Lightsail offers, EC2 is a great option for you instead.

You can also secure very low rates on your EC2 instance by planning your resource requirements in advance and monitoring costs over time.

If you’re not sure what you need, you can start out with pay-as-you-go pricing but over time you’ll find it cheaper to reserve instances for longer periods of time.

The cheapest EC2 instance is t4g.nano which starts at $0.0042/hour and offers 0.5 GiB of memory.

Costs For AWS Databases

Much like Amazon’s EC2 instances, pricing on databases varies depending on whether you choose a provisioned or on-demand option.

When it comes to databases, provisioned pricing refers to using a predictable amount of read/writes on the database. On-demand will be more expensive than provisioned.

Pricing also varies depending on which database system you use.

DynamoDB Costs

DynamoDB is Amazon’s fully managed, serverless NoSQL database that’s designed to run high-performance applications at any scale you need.

Amazon DynamoDB

Its on-demand pricing varies but here’s a starting idea:

  • Write request costs: $1.41 per million write requests
  • Read request costs: $0.28 per million read requests

You also need to pay for the storage of your database too. You can store up to 25GB per month for free.

Amazon DynamoDB Free 25GB

Then, you’ll need to pay around 28 cents (USD) per extra GB. If you want to add extra services like backups, there will be additional costs for these too.

Let’s say you run 1 million writes and 1 million reads on a 30GB database, this would come to around $8.88 USD per month.

  • Storage: $7.50 USD/month
  • Writes: $1.25 USD/month
  • Reads: $0.13 USD/month

You can play around with Amazon’s DynamoDB on-demand calculator to get an accurate estimate of your use case.

MongoDB Costs

If you prefer using MongoDB instead, there is a fully-managed option available for AWS called MongoDB Atlas. While it offers a perpetual free tier, you will be sharing RAM and can only store as much as 512MB.

Amazon MongoDB

Usage-based pricing starts at only $9/month, however. For a more up-to-date estimate, check out MongoDB’s in-depth pricing page.

Static File Storage: Costs For Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is perfect for anyone who is looking for static hosting for websites or applications that do not require server-side scripting.

Amazon S3’s pricing works a little differently as it is a cloud object storage solution. Pricing is based on ‘buckets’ that can easily be configured to match your hosting use case.

Amazon S3’s pricing buckets

The costs are based on how much data you have stored, the frequency you need to access that data, and your overall monthly data transfers.

A major advantage of Amazon S3 is that there’s no need for any server admin as your bucket can automatically scale to serve any volume of traffic while maintaining fast page loading speeds.

Here are some of the costs for each type of S3 service.

S3 Standard

S3 Standard offers standard pricing for general purpose storage. It’s best suited to any type of data that needs to be frequently accessed.

S3 Standard Storage Costs
First 50 TB/month $0.023 / GB
Next 450 TB/month $0.022 / GB
Over 500 TB/month $0.021 / GB

S3 Infrequent Access

All of Amazon’s Infrequent Access (IA) plans are cheaper than standard S3 buckets, however, the file retrieval cost is higher.

Amazon S3 Infrequent Access

If you have files that do not need to be used often, this is a more suitable type of hosting plan in the AWS S3 suite. That being said, retrieving files is still fast.

S3 Infrequent Access Storage Costs
S3 Standard – Infrequent Access $0.0125 / GB
S3 One Zone – Infrequent Access $0.01 / GB

S3 Glacier

Glacier is similar to the infrequent access plans above with even cheaper storage pricing but also more expensive retrieval costs.

Amazon IS3 Glacier

It’s ideal use case is for archiving files, most of which will likely not be retrieved again.

A typical example of this in action is the storage of files you might legally be required to keep.

As such, file retrieval is typically slower and can, at times, take hours to complete.

S3 Glacier Storage Costs
S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval $0.004 / GB
S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval (Formerly S3 Glacier) $0.0036 / GB
S3 Glacier Deep Archive $0.00099 / GB

S3 Intelligent Tiering

S3 Intelligent Tiering lets Amazon automatically choose the best tier for your files.

S3 Intelligent Tiering

It’s a system Amazon has developed to help users optimize their costs but it does come with an additional storage monitoring fee that none of the other types of S3 services have.

Here are some example costs for this service.

S3 Intelligent – Tiering Costs
Monitoring and Automation, All Storage / Month (Objects > 128 KB) $0.0025 / 1,000 objects
Frequent Access Tier, First 50 TB / Month $0.023 / GB
Frequent Access Tier, Next 450 TB / Month $0.022 / GB
Frequent Access Tier, Over 500 TB / Month $0.021 / GB
Infrequent Access Tier, All Storage / Month $0.0125 / GB
Archive Instant Access Tier, All Storage / Month $0.004 / GB

Is Amazon S3 Right For You?

Amazon S3 is best used when you need to host static websites or for serving static files. It is not suitable for applications that require server-side scripting or a dynamic database.

Static Website

If all you need is storage, S3 services are the perfect option for you that cost far less than any other AWS services.

If you’re running a web app that needs ongoing development, we suggest looking into AWS Amplfy instead.

AWS Amplify Pricing

AWS Amplify is a Backend as a Service (BaaS) solution that’s ideal for single-page web apps and static websites. It comes with a visual editor and a command line interface along with support for continuous development.

In short, it’s ideal for web apps that need ongoing development. AWS Amplify is designed to speed up and enhance your development process.

It also scales automatically according to how much traffic you’re getting and it does not sacrifice loading speed as it scales.

As far as pricing goes, there are no pre-defined pricing plans for this service.

If you’re a beginner or a small team looking to try out a prototype, the AWS Amplify free trial may be all you need. It’s included as part of the AWS free tier which you can access for a full year with a few restrictions on how many resources you get as part of the free trial.

Amazon also provides a couple of examples to help you better understand Amplify’s pricing depending on your use case.

Is AWS Amplify Right For You?

AWS Amplify works best for developers who need a more agile web development platform that allows them to develop on a continuous basis.

Amazon AWS Amplify

It’s also well suited to people who do not want to be bogged down by server management.

No matter the size of your team, AWS Amplify will offer you a flexible environment with plenty of useful tools to speed up your development cycles.

Cost Breakdown & Variability

Ultimately, the costs of your AWS service will be flexible and depends on several factors.

  • Resources Required: Most of Amazon’s services are priced according ot how many resources you use with the amount of storage and monthly data transfer setting the yardstick.
  • Type of Subscription: Not only does pricing vary between each of Amazon’s services but there are also different types of subscriptions and pricing models you can choose.
  • For instance, on-demand pricing tends to be the most flexible option but also the most expensive. You can save money by reserving instances for longer periods of time.

Server Location

  • Data Center Location: The location of the data centers you use can also affect pricing. Our price estimations are based on data centers in the US.
  • Support: AWS offers basic support for all services, even unmanaged ones. However, if you need more advanced technical support, you will need to factor in additional expenses starting at $29/month.

AWS Pricing Calculators

If you’re ever not sure what your tech stack requirements will cost using the AWS platform, check out the AWS calculator to help you get a price breakdown.

AWS PRICING CALCULATOR

There are also other websites that offer similar estimations, such as CloudCraft.

Recommended Alternatives

If you’ve decided AWS is not the right solution for your needs, here are our top recommendations for alternatives.

  • Liquid Web offers extensive server management and very responsive support, both of which AWS does not offer without additional costs added.

Kamatera

  • Kamatera allows you to build a custom cloud VPS solution at low prices and without having to commit years in advance to secure great deals.
  • Cloudways offers great managed cloud services which can utilise the AWS framework, but without the headaches of having to configure your own servers.

Check out our guide on the best Amazon AWS alternatives to help you find the right cloud hosting platform for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Which AWS Services Are Right For You?

The best AWS service for your project depends on what functionality you needs most.

For instance, if you need simple, static website hosting services for a landing page or website, Lightsail is a great option to explore.

Amazon S3 is better suited for file storage, especially for documents you do not need to access frequently.

What Are The Different Pricing Models For AWS?

Amazon offers pay-as-you-go pricing for most of its services. There are two exceptions with Lightsail being the only service with pre-defined plans and EC2 instances offering cheaper prices if you reserve them for long period of time.

How Does AWS Price Its Storage Services?

Memory Card

Generally, AWS storage services are priced according to how many GB you store and access each month.

Is Amazon AWS Free?

While there is the AWS free tier to consider, it is not a long term free solution as most of the services on the free tier expire after one year.

Summary Of AWS Costs You Can Expect Each Month

Amazon’s AWS pricing is more flexible than many other cloud hosting providers offer.

It’s designed to offer you the flexibility and scalability you need to build any type of application or website.

However, with such flexibility, you might find yourself spending more than you thought you would simply because you dind’t understand the pricing structure.

Pay-as-you-go pricing is the most expensive way to use AWS services so we recommend you do some forward planning to ensure you don’t get stuck with a bill higher than you expect!

For some AWS services many be more then what they need.

If you are a small business looking for a great web hosing solution check out our article 7 Best Web Hosting For Small Business: 2022‘s Top Providers.

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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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