How to Optimize Your Amazon Hosting Costs

Oren Cohen

I Saved Over $1800 On Amazon Hosting, and it didn’t cost anything except an hour of my time.

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I’m running three machines on AWS. Two are my blogs, and one is a personal Git server where I put work I’m not ready to share on public spaces (and when I say public spaces, I mean the private repositories offered by GitHub and GitLab. I don’t want to pay a ransom for my repo). I also like the ability to tinker with the server and make changes. I’m entirely in control of what happens on it, and that is something that satisfies my curiosity.

The downside of hosting my sites on Amazon was the cost. I was willing to control the server, but I realized that combined, I was paying for my sites around 70–80 dollars each month. In comparison, I spent 109 dollars for an entire year on one of the popular hosting companies. In light of my debt, I decided the payment was not worth it for me. I thought to myself that only businesses used AWS. It wasn’t meant for someone like me.

Or was it?

Here is what I did to save 1800$ on hosting.

I Moved To A Different Region

Researching Amazon EC2 pricing, I discovered that the two cheapest regions are Oregon and North Virginia. I was hosting my websites in an expensive region — North California. A little google search revealed that California is among the most costly regions, but other options are even more costly. Still, I didn’t have any special requirement to host my sites there and not anywhere else. So I moved.

The first region I moved to was Oregon. I deployed my websites there, and then — for some reason — I never succeeded in reaching the sites. I did configure all of their ports and DNS correctly, but it never worked. I thought maybe it was temporary, but I didn’t have time to wait. My Hebrew blog is not very famous, but it still receives around 200 unique daily visitors. I couldn’t damage their experience.

When I moved my sites to N. Virginia, everything worked perfectly. I got my websites deployed and reached them successfully without any loss of data. When I verified I didn’t have any leftovers on the first CA region (like volumes, snapshots, and Elastic IPs), I sat to calculate how much this move has saved me. It appears that by moving to a different region, I saved myself around 450$ annually. That’s nice, but I wanted something more substantial.

Then I discovered Reserved Instances.

Reserved Instances Work Better For My Uses

I host two blogs and a git website—all of which are not temporary websites. I don’t plan on taking down my blogs anytime soon, and I host all of my code on the cloud, so that isn’t going down either. Why should I pay On-Demand prices? So I googled AWS pricing and discovered Reserved Instances. These are only price deals for the types of computers you host on the cloud.

For example, an on-demand computer in the cloud may have an hourly cost of 0.0273$ an hour. When you reserve that instance for 36 months, that price can go down to about 0.010$ an hour. Here’s a quick calculation:

On-Demand Pricing for an EC2 instance:

0.0273*24(hours)*30(average days a month)*36(months) = 707.616$

Reserved Pricing for an EC2 instance:

0.010*24(hours)*30(average days a month)*36(months) = 259.2$

How much I saved: 448.416$

This calculation is theoretical, but the saving amount is quite realistic. Unfortunately, Reserved Instances are underrated, in my opinion.

The one thing you have to remember before buying a reserved instance is that RIs are commitments. Whether the instance is stopped or even terminated — you will still have to pay for what you purchased. That’s why you have to review your uses. Are you hosting a blog like me? If you plan on making it available to people 24/7, you might want to reserve it. Are you using a windows machine in the cloud for temporary uses? Not a good reason to use a RI. Take the time to understand if your website needs to stay online 24/7 or not, and decide whether you need RIs or On-Demand.

If you decide to stay with On-Demand, alarms can help you remember to shut the instance down so you won’t have to pay for it.

These Two Changes Saved A LOT Of Money

Having two small instances and one medium one for my sites amounted to around 2860$ for three years. I don’t plan on taking down either of them during that time, so why not reserve them? My cost went down from 2860$ in California to around 1000$ in Virginia for three years after reserving them. 1860$ less than what I should have paid if not for reserved instances and moving to a cheaper region.

Are you hosting your site there too? Review your instances. Perhaps you can save some money also.

Good luck!

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I'm a geeky content creator. My content will usually be helpful articles for other content creators like me or some fun geeky articles about shows, video games, and literature. Recommend me a new fantasy book! Also, I'm working on my own fantasy story so stay tuned for that, too.

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