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I’m Moving My Sites To AWS Lightsail, Here’s Why

It’s not because of the free tiers.!

What Is Lightsail — Lightsail Features — Lightsail Pricing

Recently I’ve moved a few of my sites to AWS Lightsail.

I’m still monitoring the performance but I’m simply amazed by the initial results.

Earlier I was using the WordPress hosting from SiteGround.

It was not bad though, but I wanted to switch to the cloud and get started with something easier.

I’m from a programming background, which also made my job much easier than I thought.! :)

After switching the hosting to Lightsail, the server response time in loading my site has drastically gone down and Google has also started loving it. The media files on my sites like images, JavaScript, and CSS files are loading faster than ever as I’m also using the Lightsail CDN service.

I’m only using a handful of services from the Lightsail like instances, block storage, CDN, etc.

I’m loving it and still exploring it more!

AWS Lightsail has quickly become the favorite among web developers and bloggers due to the simplicity it offers for managing a site on the cloud.

It’s the easiest way to get started with AWS as it facilitates everything that developers need to launch their sites on the cloud quickly.

AWS launched Lightsail in 2016 as a direct competition to some of the most post popular players like DigitalOcean, Cloudways, etc. who offer VPS and cloud hosting.

In this post, I’m not comparing it with other cloud providers but just trying to throw some insights into what Lightsail offers and why it’s far better than shared hosting.

Let’s take a deep dive into what is AWS Lightsail and how it can help you to launch your business on the cloud?

What is AWS Lightsail?

A Lightsail is a virtual private server (or VPS) launched as an instance on the AWS cloud where you can deploy your code, store the data, build and launch web-based applications. Once launched your instance is assigned the private IP and public IP addresses which are used by the instances to communicate internally and to the outer world.

Simply put, it’s a VPS provider that offers cost-effective and easy-to-use cloud resources.

You can access your application on the public IP address and also manage the instances and other resources on Lightsail easily through the SSH terminal.

It helps in storing and managing vast amounts of cloud storage for new or inexperienced cloud users.

It is used by many developers, small enterprises, students, and other users who need a solution to build and host their websites and applications on the cloud.

With Lightsail, anyone can deploy and manage basic cloud resources.

The Cool Features

Whether you’re planning to run a simple static website, a WordPress blog, a SaaS application, or a fully-functional eCommerce store, you are equipped with Lightsail’s range of cloud features to grow your business.

Most of the components and application stack are already installed on the servers and those which are not can be configured through the console.

Here’s just a glimpse of what Amazon Lightsail provisions to its users:

  • Instances (virtual private servers)
  • Pre-configured application stacks
  • Container services
  • Managed databases
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) distributions
  • Simplified load balancers
  • SSD-based block and S3-based object storage
  • Static IP (dedicated IP) addresses
  • DNS management of registered domains
  • Backup of resource snapshots at low cost, or monthly price
  • CPU utilization metrics
  • Usage alerts
  • Option to upgrade to EC2
  • Access to AWS Services

Let’s take a close look at some of the most popular services offered by Lightsail.

Pre-configured Application Stacks

Lightsail has images with base operating systems, development stacks like LAMP, LEMP (Nginx), Node.js, and SQL Server Express, and applications like WordPress, Drupal, and Magento.

AWS Amazon Lightsail comes with pre-configured launch services such as instances, databases, load balancer, CDN, and more.

Instances

Launching a website, web application, or any project is easy with just a few clicks.

You can manage instances from the intuitive Lightsail console or API can be done within minutes.

Each Amazon Lightsail instance comes with a built-in firewall allowing you to allow or restrict traffic on your instance based on the source IP, port, and protocol.

Amazon Lightsail Containers

Amazon Lightsail container service is the most scalable resource for computing & networking.

Users can use it to deploy, run, and manage containers.

Simplified Load Balancers

Lightsail’s simplified load balancers route the web traffic across instances so that your website and application can not only accommodate variations in traffic, but better protect against outages, and provide a seamless experience for your visitors.

Managed Databases

Managed databases offer means for common maintenance and security tasks right from the Lightsail console.

You are provisioned to create as many MySql or PostgreSQL databases as you want and use them in your applications.

Block and Object Storages

Amazon Lightsail offers you to store your data easily and securely through two popular ways, Block storage and Object storage.

Block and Object storage are the two methods for your Linux or Windows virtual server.

With block storage, files are divided into equally sized blocks of data, each with its own address but without any additional information (metadata), and with object storage, files are not split into raw blocks of data.

CDN Distributions

This one is my favorite service from AWS.!

The Amazon LightSail Content Delivery Network (CDN) caches your website and applications in locations around the world.

Lightsail distributions use the same edge servers and IP address ranges as Amazon CloudFront.

Here’s the list of the supported locations of CloudFront edge servers.

And guess what, you get 1 year of free data to transfer up to 50GB and then just 2.50 USD/month thereafter, a way cheaper than most of the CDN providers!

Lightsail Virtual Servers

Lightsail provides virtual servers that can be easily set up and backed by the power and reliability of AWS.

Upgrade to EC2

If the user is about to expand his/her cloud ideas and looking to move to EC2.

Amazon Lightsail offers this feature where they can easily switch to EC2 with a simple, guided experience.

Access to Other AWS Services

Amazon LightSail not only allows its users to rely on limited features (eg, managed databases, and so on).

In fact, you can integrate your Amazon Lightsail project with some of the 90+ other services in AWS through Amazon VPC peering.

Operating Systems (OS) Supported With Amazon Lightsail

If you’re just starting out with Amazon Lightsail, you might be wondering, “Will Amazon Lightsail support the operating system I choose?”

Amazon Lightsail offers you simple installations on Linux and windows.

You can choose Linux web servers or Windows servers for various applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Node.js, etc. which can be set up instantly in the cloud.

Here is a list of operating systems that are supported by Amazon LightSail:

Linux Operating System

  • Amazon Linux (2018)
  • Amazon Linux 2
  • CentOS 7 and 8
  • Ubuntu 16, 18, and 20
  • Free BSD 10
  • Debian 8, 9, and 10
  • openSUSE Leap

Windows Operating System

  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

Amazon Lightsail Pricing

AWS Lightsail offers No-nonsense monthly pricing that is very predictable most of the time.

Lightsail bundles resources like memory, vCPU, and solid-state drive (SSD) storage into one plan, so budgeting is easy and straightforward.

Additionally, you can set billing alerts for the maximum amount you’re willing to pay and keep track of the resource utilization.

The price of Amazon Lightsail largely depends on the operating system.

The Linux servers come with more pre-configured application stacks and are more cost-effective than the Windows servers.

AWS Free Tier

Anyone can get started with AWS Lightsail for free, all you need is an AWS account.

After signing up, you can create the instance and pay nothing for the three months.

Here are the instances eligible for the free tier:

Linux/Unix bundles: $3.50 USD/month, $5 USD/month, and $10 USD/month

Windows bundles: $8 USD /month, $12 USD/month, and $20 USD/month

In addition to that, you also get one year free of 50 GB content delivery network (CDN) distributions, and one year free of a 5 GB object storage bundle.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? :)

Here’s how the AWS Lightsail pricing works:

AWS Lightsail Pricing for Linux/Unix

AWS Lightsail Pricing for Windows

Frequently Asked Questions on AWS Lightsail

I’m getting a lot of queries related to AWS in general, so thought of sharing a list of frequently asked questions on Lightsail by the readers and subscribers.

What does VPS mean?

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It is also known as “Instance”. VPS allows developers to run websites and applications cost-effectively in a highly secure and accessible environment. VPS is of two types i.e. Managed VPS and Unmanaged VPS.

What is a Container?

They are the basic units of software that package the code and dependencies to run web applications rapidly and securely from one computing environment to another.

How to sign up for Lightsail?

You can use your Amazon Web Services account to access Lightsail; If you are a new one it will prompt you for a new window to create one.

Is Lightsail good for web hosting?

If you want to start your website with affordable web hosting, then Amazon Lightsail is definitely less expensive than others. In fact, they keep on offering their free trials for a month, 3 months, etc.

When should a load balancer be used?

When the number of requests sent to the service suddenly increases at specific points, a load balancer can be used to distribute traffic across multiple instances of Lightsail. In this way, the load balancer ensures that the application is available most of the time.

Wrapping up

In my opinion, the AWS Lightsail could be the perfect choice for small business websites, WordPress blogs, Shopify stores, or small SaaS startups.

The possibilities are endless and you can always upgrade to more powerful EC2 instances whenever needed.

Personally, I’d prefer to use Lightsail to quickly try out how my site would behave post-migration to the cloud and then decide to move on to the EC2.

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