Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Free

Did you know that AWS is (almost) FREE for your first year of usage?

Yeah I was amazed too.

I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations recently about AWS and it seems that people are a little bit lost with it. I won’t sugar coat it, AWS was designed by engineers for engineers – it’s NOT that user friendly at all.

For example S3 (really SSS or Simple Storage Service) uses non-standard terminology, in fact it seems to be that Amazon have used lots of terminology we’re not used to. So instead of saying folders and files, they use the words buckets and objects. It’s confusing and makes you stop and think at every step of the way when you first use it.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps they’ve done this so it doesn’t go crazy with a zillion new users all at once.

Because did you know that AWS is (almost) FREE for the first 12 months? (Yes, they want your credit card details, but unless you’re going to be a heavy user, my guess is you may not get charged anything.)

They do this free tier to get people slowly introduced to everything else they do, and to get software developers developing.

As an example, with S3 you get 5GB cloud storage plus thousands of what they call “get” and “put” requests (file reads and writes) before they start charging you anything, and then it’s pennies.

While most people have heard of Amazon’s S3 service, my guess is you’re not aware of the whole ruck of other services that are wrapped up in AWS.

Other than S3, the bulk of them aren’t going to be of any interest to you, but there are a couple of other goodies in there.

These are SES (Simple Email Service) and EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute).

You can probably guess that SES is their email service that has been designed to be scalable and makes sure your emails are delivered. Deliverability has always been a problem and is why people use email services like Aweber.

Most people don’t realise that sending an email from your email client only has a 50-50 chance of getting there if the end user is using one of the free email services.

Free email is for the mass market, and shouldn’t be used by businesses.

So if you’re a Gmail user sending email to a Yahoo mail user, the chances are high it will get filtered as spam on the incoming network. And vice-versa.

Yahoo etc, don’t care if your email doesn’t arrive. Removing spam is their #1 priority and has been for at least 4 years now. If you use any kind of keyword that triggers their network mail filter, then it’s likely it will get filtered (deleted) before it even gets anywhere near a mailbox. Sometimes they get filtered going out too.

I can’t give you any examples in this email because it will likely get filtered.  😉

It’s always been a much better idea to use an email account on your own domain and leave the free email to the masses for whom email isn’t critical.

Back to the next noteworthy Amazon service.

EC2, while having a completely misleading name is actually their VPS (Virtual Private Server) system. Think cloud based web servers.

Oh yeah.

A free VPS from Amazon? (They actually call them “instances.”)

If you were to install one of their free operating systems such as Centos from one of their supplied images, then with a little bit of work you can install WHM (cPanel) and buy your cPanel licence monthly for about $15/month.

Then you have an Amazon speed, cloud based server for peanuts.

And you can install ALL your domains on it, each with their own cPanel account. You could even rent out domain hosting to clients.

This is a LOT cheaper than renting a VPS for $80+ / month! In fact once I’ve mastered this I’m going to migrate all my domains to it.

It sounds a bit scary I know, but I don’t think it’s that hard and once I’ve done it myself I’ll show you how.

Watch out for this series over the coming weeks. Eventually I’ll turn it into a paid course and remove it, so learn while it’s free.

Okay, that wraps this email up, a bit of a big one I know, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  😉

Before you do anything else, go and sign up for an AWS account here while it’s still a 12 month free deal. You’re going to need it if you want to follow along with this series.


-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood


John Vanse

Great post Frank.
Have been going to do this for some time – and your post gave me the kick to get into it.

I now have an S3 service all up and running thanks to the kick in the bum your post gave me (-8)

I’m off now to load up my S3 bucket !

John Vanse

PS I can understand your comments about S3 being designed by engineers, but I’ve been working with computers since 1980, ran a computer consultancy business for many years and now – at age 82 – I’ve wound down and just run a web design business and do a lot of internet marketing from my home office !

I’m in Australia so time zones inhibit my online activities a bit as most of my action is pointed at US and UK.

Frank Haywood

Hi John,

That’s great, I always like to hear people’s “back stories” so to speak. 🙂

I looked at AWS and thought to myself “How complicated is this?” and then came to the conclusion that most people only use S3, and for anything more complicated they outsource it. I reckon SES and EC2 are going to be just as interesting as S3, and I’m going to leave EC2 until last as I think it will be the most involved to set up.

Famous last words. 🙄


geoff lord

Hi Frank

Thanks for the heads Up on the VPS. I have been using Amazon w3s for video and image storage for years now and had seen the option to try the EC2 but didn’t take action as I already have a VPS hosted in the UK, however earlier this year I set up a “Home” server on a spare computer I had at home. It worked great but proved to be a little slow because of the limits of the computer. So you have prompted me to have a go with the Amazon EC2. I would encourage anyone to “Have a GO” as you can only improve your knowledge. I too am an “Old Fart” at 71 so your never too old learn something new.

I will look forward to following your lead.