Cloud Computing is a hot and current topic discussed and used by many businesses. But with smaller offerings available now from professional cloud providers, running your own virtual private server (What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)?) in the cloud can be something you may feel intrigued to.
When my previous e-mail hosting provider surprised me with a price increase of more than 100%, I was checking for alternatives. Initially I just wanted to go with another hosting provider to host both, my e-mails and my web-server. But during my research for a new hosting provider I came across the AWS (Amazon Web Services) offering of Lightsail. AWS is the Amazon hosting service, normally providing professional cloud offerings for companies all over the world. But I learned that they also have this Lightsail offering, where they provide a Cloud Server offering starting at US$ 3.50 per month*. And I also learned that there was an entry offer available for a free trial of Lightsail for one month. When I had seen that, I surely wanted to try it and see how far I could get to use it for e-mails and webspace using Apache.
* (As of March 2022 the offer is available for US$ 3.50 plus your local tax/VAT).
AWS Lightsail Virtual Private Server
Affordable Entry Package to start with
AWS Lightsail is a easy to use and easy to start service to run your own Virtual Private Server. The entry offer starts at US$ 3.50 (plus local tax / VAT) and provides:
- Linux based server
- 1 Core Processor
- 512 MB Memory
- 20 GB Disk Space
- 1 TB data transfer
It is very easy and straightforward to create the AWS Lightsail account by just providing credit card data, and ready it was. The user interface is easy to understand and it makes it easy to select the services needed.
For the server location you can select between several data centre locations in Europe, US, and Asia Pacific region.
Lightsail is not limited to a single instance and you can easily install up to 20 instances*. Even the offering for a free month trial is not based on a single instance, but rather on a time limited and the billing is pro-rata. The offer covers 750 hours per month (31 days x 24 hours = 744 hours). It's very easy to create new instances for testing purposes and deleted old once when you do not need them anymore.
DNS and Nameserver
You get a public static IP address for your instance. But Amazon Lightsail does also provide nameservers to manage the domain's DNS records within Lightsail. If you have already registered a domain name with a domain name provider you create a domain name zone within Lightsail and link it to your static IP address. Then you need to take Amazon Lightsail's name servers and update the name server entries with your domain name provider.
Because of a limit of a maximum of three DNS zones in Lightsail* I decided to manage my DNS records with my domain name provider. For this I just had to update my DNS records with my static IP address I had received from Amazon Lightsail and the nameservers with the one's from my domain name provider.
Amazon does also provide a service to register domain names with them, they call it "Amazon Route 53". But I have not looked into that and did not try it out.
* (as of December 2021).
After I set up my initial VPS with Amazon Lightsail I came across a different offer by Alibaba. Based on my experience with them I have written a short report: AWS LightSail vs. Alibaba Cloud