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AWS Free Tier

Understandably, making the jump to the AWS cloud is not an easy investment to evaluate, especially from the perspective of a startup. Fortunately, AWS is generous enough to provide some hands-on experience with its various tools and utilities free of charge for either a short period of time or indefinitely depending on the service type. Here’s a rundown of everything you can expect from AWS’ Free Tier.

Types of Offers

 

When setting up an AWS account with a credit card for the first time, there are no automatic renewals. Instead, AWS operates on a pay-as-you-go basis, billing for services used by their standardized monthly billing cycle. This means you will only be charged for the resources you actually use during the month, and these charges will be automatically applied to the credit card on file. AWS provides detailed billing reports that allow you to track costs and usage throughout the billing period, ensuring transparency and preventing any unexpected charges.

There are three main types of trial periods for each product:

Free Trial:  These options will always remain regardless of the sign-on date, but the clock will start ticking the moment users tap into that specific service.  These do not have consistency as to whether their limits are time-based or usage-based.

12 Months Free:  These services will remain free for the first year following the user’s initial sign-on date, regardless of whether they decide to use it or not.

Always Free:  These are very special cases.  Unlike the other two tiers, these will remain free regardless of time elapsed since sign-on or use and will remain available for all users, whether they have paid or not.

A wide range of individuals and organizations can qualify to be eligible for the AWS free usage tier. This includes students, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and even Fortune 500 companies. The process to try out the AWS free usage tier is quite straightforward. Firstly, you need to create an account with AWS. Upon signing up, you will gain access to various AWS services.

To activate the services you wish to try, simply select the specific services from the list of available options. It’s important to note that while signing up, you will also be required to provide a valid credit card and place it on file. However, you don’t need to worry about immediate charges, as your credit card will only be billed if you continue to utilize the services beyond the free tier’s expiration.

This approach allows you to explore the numerous features and capabilities of AWS without incurring any initial costs. It gives you the flexibility to experiment, test, and familiarize yourself with AWS services, empowering you to make informed decisions about acquiring their paid offerings.

 

Hourly usage in the AWS Free Tier is calculated specifically for certain services such as Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Elastic Load Balancing. These services are charged based on the actual number of hours they are utilized. In the AWS Free Tier, there is a monthly allowance of hours provided for the first 12 months. To give an example, the Free Tier for Amazon EC2 offers 750 hours of usage for Linux instances (specifically t1.micro and t2.micro instances), as well as 750 hours of usage for Windows instances (t1.micro and t2.micro instances).

The allocation of these hours is flexible, meaning you can divide them however you prefer, whether it’s running a combination of Linux and Windows instances or focusing solely on one type each month. It’s important to note that in regions where t2.micro instances may not be available, there is support for the t3.micro equivalent under the AWS Free Tier. This means that even if certain instance types are not available, you can still utilize the AWS Free Tier hours by using the equivalent instance types.

Services Available Through the Free Tier

 

 

Admittedly, the sheer number of services that come free with AWS can be incredibly daunting at just a glance.  Here’s a quick checklist of services categorized by product type and how long users get to use them for:

Computing Tools:

  • Amazon EC2 - Duration: 750 hours per month for 12 months

The purpose of Amazon EC2 Container Registry (ECR) is to provide a secure and fully managed Docker container registry. It allows developers to store, manage, and deploy Docker container images easily.  Comes with 750 hours per month of Linux, RHEL, or SLES t2.micro or t3.micro instance, or 750 hours per month of Windows t2.micro or t3.micro.  Availability depends on the region.

Amazon EC2 pricing in the AWS free tier is based on hours of usage, rather than the number of instances being run. This means that users can utilize t2.micro instances running Linux or Windows for free, but any upgrade to a more powerful instance will incur fees and fall outside the boundaries of the free tier.

  • AWS Lambda - Duration: 1 Million requests per month indefinitely

AWS Lambda integrates with many other AWS services serves as the compute service and forms the basis for serverless solutions on AWS. It can be integrated with services like API Gateway, DynamoDB, and RDS.  Comes with 1,000,000 free requests and up to 3.2 million seconds of compute-time per month.

  • Amazon Lightsail - Duration 750 hours for three months

Virtual servers that are easy to compute, store, and network with.  Comes with a limited-time offer to get up to 90-days free across all subscription models.

  • Amazon Elastic Container Registry - Duration: 500 MB per month for 12 months

For storing and retrieving Docker images.  Comes with 500 MB per month for a year.

  • Elastic Load Balancing - Duration: 750 hours per month for 12 months

Elastic Load Balancing scales by distributing incoming application or network traffic across multiple targets. It automatically adjusts and scales the load balancer based on the changing traffic to the application over time. Comes with 750 Hours per month shared between Classic and Application load balancers, 15 GB of data processing for Classic load balancers, and 15 LCUs for Application load balancers.

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Databases: 

  • Amazon RDS - Duration: 750 hours per month for 12 months

Database service for MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, or SQL servers.  Comes with 750 Hours of Amazon RDS Single-AZ db.t2.micro, db.t3.micro, and db.t4g.micro Instances usage running MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL databases each month (applicable DB engines), 20 GB of General Purpose (SSD) database storage, and 20 GB of storage for database backups and DB Snapshots.

 

  • Amazon DynamoDB - Duration 25 GB indefinitely

Fast and flexible NoSQL database with seamless scalability.  Comes with 25 GB of Storage, 25 provisioned Write Capacity Units (WCU), 25 provisioned Read Capacity Units (RCU), and enough capacity to handle up to 200M requests per month.

 

  • Amazon RedShift - Duration: 750 hours per month for 2 months

Cost-effective warehousing for data.  Comes with 750 DC2.Large node hours per month for 2 months.

 

  • Amazon ElastiCache - Duration: 750 hours per month for 12 months

Toolset for managing in-memory caches in the cloud.  Comes with 750 Hours of cache.t2micro or cache.t3.micro Node usage and Enough hours to run continuously each month for the entire year.

 

  • AWS Database Migration Service - Duration: 750 hours per month indefinitely

For migrating from databases, especially for new users making the jump to in-house storage.  Comes with 750 Hours of Amazon DMS Single-AZ dms.t2.micro instance usage and 50 GB of included General Purpose (SSD) storage.

 

  • Amazon Keyspaces (for Apache Cassandra) - Duration: 3 months

Scalable, available, and managed database service tailored for Apache Cassandra instances.  Comes with 30 million on-demand reads, 30 million on-demand writes, and 1 GB of storage per month.

 

  • Amazon MemoryDB for Redis - Duration: 750 hours or 20 GB per month for 2 months

Durable, Redis-compatible, in-memory database service.  Comes with 750 hours on t4g.small instances or 20 GB per month for two months.

 

  • Amazon DocumentDB (MongoDB compatible) - Duration: 750 hours per month for 1 month

Scalable, durable, and managed database service designed to take on heavy loads for MongoDB.  Comes with 750 hours of Amazon DocumentDB on t3.medium instances, 5 GB of storage, 5 GB of backup storage, and 30M IOs for 30 days.

 

  • Amazon Neptune - Duration: 1 month

Graph database service that is very easy to work with existing applications.  Comes with 750 hours of Neptune t3.medium instance usage, 10 million I/O requests, 1 GB of storage, and 1 GB of backup.

Storage:

  • Amazon S3 - Duration: 5 GB for 12 months

This service provides scalable and durable object storage. In the free tier, you get 5 GB of Standard Storage, which can be utilized for 12 months. Additionally, you are allotted 20,000 Get Requests and 2,000 Put Requests, allowing you to efficiently manage and retrieve your stored objects.

 

  • Amazon CloudFront - Duration: 1 TB indefinitely

If you require a distribution service with low latency and high speeds, Amazon CloudFront is a suitable choice. With the AWS free tier, you are granted 1 TB of Data Transfer Out, which can be used indefinitely. Moreover, you have access to 10,000,000 HTTP or HTTPS Requests and 2,000,000 CloudFront Function Invocations, ensuring seamless content delivery to your users.

 

  • Amazon EFS - Duration: 5 GB for 12 months

For those using EC2 instances, Amazon EFS offers a simple file storage solution. In the free tier, you are provided with 5 GB of storage capacity, allowing you to store and access your files effortlessly.

 

  • Amazon Elastic Block Storage - Duration: 30 GB for 12 months

If you require block-level storage volumes for your EC2 instances, Amazon EBS is a reliable option. In the AWS free tier, you are granted 30 GB of Amazon EBS storage for 12 months. This includes a combination of General Purpose (SSD) or Magnetic storage, along with 2,000,000 I/Os (with EBS Magnetic) and 1 GB of snapshot storage.

 

  • AWS Storage Gateway - Duration: 100 GB indefinitely

AWS Storage Gateway: For hybrid cloud storage with the capability of local integration and fast transfer speeds, AWS Storage Gateway is the ideal solution. The AWS free tier allows you to utilize the first 100 GB per account without any additional charges for an indefinite period. Furthermore, there are no additional costs associated with transferring data into AWS.

 

  • Amazon ECS Anywhere - Duration: 2200 hours for 6 months

Easy container system that can run on any customer-run infrastructure.  Comes with 2200 hours per month.

Web & Mobile Apps:

  • Amazon SNS - Duration: 1 Million publishes indefinitely

Managed and flexible messaging service.  Comes with 1,000,000 Publishes, 100,000 HTTP/S Deliveries, and 1,000 Email Deliveries.

 

For maintaining, publishing, and monitoring APIs at any scale.  Comes with 1 Million API calls.

  • Amazon Cognito - Duration: 50,000 MAUs per month indefinitely, but some features do fall under the 12 months limitations

User sign-in, sign-up, and access control.  Comes with 50,000 MAUs each month. 10 GB of cloud sync storage and 1,000,000 sync operations per month are also included with the free tier, but will expire after the first 12 months following signup to AWS.

  • Amazon Pinpoint - Duration: 5,000 targeted users per month for 12 months

Push notifications system for mobile devices.  Comes with 5,000 free targeted, 1,000,000 free pushes, 100,000,000 events, 15,000 In-app Message API requests per month.

  • AWS Amplify Hosting - Duration: 5 GB stored and 15 GB served per month for 12 months

CI/CD and hosting service for hosting web applications statically or server-side.  Comes with building and deploying free for 1,000 build minutes per month.  Additionally, there’s hosting 5 GB stored per month and 15 GB served per month.

  • AWS Device Farm - Duration: 1,000 device minutes

Functional environments to test iOS, Android, and FireOS applications.  Comes with a one-time trial of 1,000 device minutes.

 

  • AWS AppSync - Duration: 250,000 query or data modifications per month for 12 months

Environment for developing GraphQL APIs.  Comes with 250,000 query or data modification operations, 250,000 real-time updates, and 600,000 connection-minutes per month.

 

  • Amazon Location Service - Duration: 3 months

For securely adding location data to applications.  Comes with 500k map tiles, 200,000 position writes, 200k position evaluations, 10k each of all other items except for geofence months addresses geocoded or positions reverse-geocoded where the result is stored.

Serverless:

  • Amazon SQS - Duration: 1 Million requests indefinitely

Queue for storing logs of requests between computers.  Can retain up to 1,000,000 requests at any given time.

 

  • AWS Step Function - Duration: 4,000 state transitions per month indefinitely

Helps with coordinating components of distributed applications.  Can send 4,000 requests per month.

Machine Learning:

  • Amazon SageMaker - Duration: 2 months

The basic tools for machine learning and machine building.  Comes with 250 hours per month of ml.t3.medium on Studio notebooks, 25 hours per month on ml.m5.4xlarge on SageMaker Data Wrangler, 10M write units, 10 M, read units, 25 GB storage per month on SageMaker Feature Store, 50 hours per month of m4.xlarge or m5.xlarge instances on Training, and 125 hours of m4.xlarge or m5.xlarge instance per month.

  • Amazon Comprehend - Duration: 50,000 units for 12 months

A fully maintained and trained natural language processor (NLP). Comes with 50,000 units of text (5M characters) for each API per month and 5 Topic Modeling Jobs up to 1MB each per month.

  • Amazon Comprehend Medical - Duration: 8.5 Million characters

A trained language processor tailored specifically for medical information and unstructured text. Comes with 85k units of text (8.5M characters) for 1 month from first use of the service. It can be used for both the Medical Named Entity and Relationship Extraction (NERe) API and the Protected Health Information Data Extraction and Identification (PHId) API.

  • Amazon Lex - Duration: 10,000 text requests per month for 12 months

Tools for making voice and text chat bots. Comes with 10,000 text requests and 5,000 speech requests per month.

  • Amazon Polly - Duration: 5 Million characters per month for 12 months

Nearly perfected text-to-speech conversion. Allows for five million characters per month for the first year after signup.

 

Deep-learning image recognition service. Allows for analyzing up to 5,000 images and storage for up to 1,000 face metadata per month.

 

  • Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth - Duration: 500 objects per month for 2 months

Tool for building highly accurate training data sets. Can overall reduce labeling costs by up to 70%. Allows for the first 500 objects labeled per month for the first two months after first use of SageMaker.

Speech-to-text transcription software. Allows for up to 60 minutes per month.

 

  • Amazon Translate - Duration: 2 Million characters per month for 12 months

High-quality and readily affordable translation software. Can translate up to 2 Million characters per month.

 

  • Amazon Augmented AI - Duration: 500 Objects for 12 months

Tool for making streamlined workflows for human reviews of Machine Learning predictions. For the first year, a total of 500 human reviews through Amazon A2I are free, equal to 42 objects per month.

 

  • Amazon Textract - Duration: 1,000 pages per month for 3 months

Extracts data and text from scanned documents, papers, and forms. Can analyze up to 1,000 pages per month using the Detect Document Text API and up to 100 pages per month using the Analyze Document API.

  • Amazon Kendra - Duration: 750 hours for 1 month

Search engine that incorporates Machine Learning components. The Developer Edition provides free usage of up to 750 hours for the first 30 days.

  • Amazon Personalize - Duration: 2 months

The same Machine Learning that Amazon.com uses for generating customer-tailored recommendations. Provided to be built into other apps. Allows for up to 20GB of data processing and storage, up to 100 training hours, and up to 50 TPS-hours of real-time recommendations per month.

 

  • AWS Deep Racer - Duration: 10 hours for 1 month

Autonomous 1/18th scale racing car on a virtual track designed to perform reinforced learning tasks. Users will receive 10 free hours to train or evaluate models and 5GB of free storage during the first month.

 

  • Amazon Forecast - Duration: 2 months

Prediction machine that makes heavy use of Machine Learning to make highly-accurate forecast models. Users get up to 10,000 time generated forecasts, up to 10GB in data storage, and up to 10 training hours per month.

  • Amazon Fraud Detector - Duration: 2 months

Recognition software designed to detect potentially fraudulent behavior faster. Users get up to 50 compute hours for model training, up to 500 compute hours for model hosting, and up to 30,000 real-time Online Fraud Insight predictions with 30,000 real-time rules-based fraud predictions per month.

 

  • Amazon DevOps Guru - Duration: 7,200 hours per month for 3 months

Cloud operations service that adjusts application availability based on predicted activity to ensure maximum up-time for customers at minimized cost. Comes with 7,200 AWS resource hours each for resource group A and B, and 10,000 DevOps Guru API calls per month.

 

  • Amazon Lookout for Vision - Duration: 3 months

Flaw detection for produced goods. The Free Tier lasts 3 months and includes 10 free training hours per month, and up to 4 free inference hours per month.

  • Amazon Lookout for Equipment - Duration: 1 month

Detects equipment failures to help avoid unplanned downtime. Comes with 50 GB of data ingestion, 250 training hours, and 168 inference hours of scheduled inference.

  • Amazon Lookout for Metrics - Duration: 1 month

Helps to identify anomalies in metrics and ascertain what their point of origin is. This is a 30-day free trial that will let users analyze up to 100 metrics in the first month of usage.

 

  • AWS Data Exchange - Duration: +1,600 sets indefinitely

Software used for acquiring relevant datasets from third parties. Delivered using APIs, files, or Amazon Redshift. Comes with 1,600+ free third-party data sets.

Closing Thoughts

When utilizing the AWS free usage tier, it is essential to be well-informed about the limitations in place. Going beyond these limitations will result in fees being applied, which can lead to unexpected charges. Therefore, it is crucial to keep track of the instance types being utilized.

The AWS free usage tier offers the benefits of using t2.micro instances running either Linux or Windows. These instances are specifically designed to be within the boundaries of the free tier. However, it is important to note that any upgrade to a more powerful instance will fall outside the boundaries of the free tier. This means that if you choose to utilize a higher-tier instance, you will no longer be eligible for the benefits of the free tier and fees will be incurred.

To make the most of the AWS free usage tier, it is advisable to stick to the specified instance types and avoid exceeding the limitations. It is worth emphasizing that being aware of the instance types and their associated limits is crucial to prevent unexpected charges. It is important to remember that the free tier is designed to provide limited resources for experimentation and learning purposes, and staying within the defined limits ensures a cost-efficient experience.

While the information provided above focuses on the instance types and their limitations within the free tier, it is worth noting that AWS offers a wide range of services with their own unique limits. These limits may vary depending on the service being used. For a comprehensive understanding of the limits associated with each service, it is recommended to refer to the AWS documentation or reach out to their support.

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Dolan Cleary

Dolan Cleary

I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and am now working with AllCode as a web technician. Currently working within the marketing department.

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