5 Ways to Save Money on Your AWS Bill

Most people start experimenting with AWS by creating a few EC2 instances and maybe some S3 buckets to get a small application going. Once you start understanding how things work in AWS and have enough knowledge to get a small proof of concept application up and running you start to feel that satisfaction and affirmation that moving to the cloud was the right decision. You then feel comfortable enough to start moving a few other things to the cloud without really thinking about how much you will be paying for them, until you get the bill at the end of the month. Yes, the cloud can be a very cost effective place to host your applications. However, if you are not careful those little things can add up to more than you expect.

Here are 5 things you can do to save some money and still enjoy the benefits that AWS provides:

1. Reserved Instances
Reserved instances allow you to pay for your instance utilization upfront and save money. Instead of paying the on-demand prices for resources you can make a commitment and get the same resources for cheaper. Amazon has various options when it comes to reserved instance pricing. You can make a 1 or a 3 year commitment and pay some or all of the cost upfront. The longer the commitment and the more you pay upfront the higher the savings. On some instances (pun intended) you can save upwards of 55% of the the on-demand prices. That can be a significant amount of savings if you have a large infrastructure.

Bonus: There is an added bonus to purchasing reserved instances. Imagine the case in which an entire availability zone becomes unavailable. You may know that if you use autoscaling groups and one of your instances fails then it gets replaced by a new instance. That's all fine and dandy but what happens if the instance failed because the entire availability zone is down? Well, the autoscaling group would be smart enough to spin up a new instance in a different availability zone (assuming it is configured properly).
The problem is, every other autoscaling group for every other Amazon client will be trying to do the exact same thing at the exact same time. This may lead to Amazon not having enough physical servers in that availability zone to provision new instances for every single client. This is where the reserved instances come into play. If you have purchased reserved instances then you will have priority when provisioning instances in the new availability zone, giving you some kind of guarantee that your new instance will be provisioned.

2. Unused Elastic IP addresses
One of the counterintuitive costing rules on AWS pricing is the Elastic IP addresses. EIPs are free to use as long as they are attached to a running instance. The moment the instance is terminated you start paying for the IP address. The reason is the fact that there is a finite number of EIPs and they don't want any one client holding on to IP addresses that are not being used.
Keep an eye on Elastic IP addresses and make sure they are released if they are not being used. This will save you a few bucks a month.

3. Free Tier
If you're just getting started with AWS you are allowed to "test drive" a lot of the services by using the Free Tier. The free tier is good for a year from the time you create your AWS account, some services have a free tier policy that lasts longer than a year. The one thing to keep in mind is that there are limits to the type and size of services you can use for free. For instance, you can get a T2 Micro instance for free as long as you only provision 30GB of storage or less.

4. Host Your Website on S3
If you have a website that is fully functional with only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (i.e., does not require a back-end web server to work) you can upload your entire website to an S3 bucket and configure it as a hosting bucket. We will dive deeper into how to do this in a future post.
This can save you money on servers as you do not have to provision and/or maintain any EC2 instances to run the web server.

5. Spot Instances
Spot instances are yet another way to save money. If you have a server whose only purpose is to run some processes and/or crunch some data and return a result, and it does not have to be running 24/7, then you could save money by bidding on spot instances. Spot instances are spare computing capacity that are usually available at a discount. You still get the same computing capacity as an on-demand EC2 instance but you could reduce your costs by up to 50-90%.

We at Stratus10 use these and many other techniques to save our clients hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars from their monthly bill. Click here to send us a note and see how much we can save you.

For more ways to reduce costs see Most Effective Ways to Reduce AWS Costs

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