Amazon Web Services: Free Usage Tiers

by Alexander Weiß

For new and existing customers, Amazon has a sweet offering in their portfolio. You can use some of their web services for free. As you can imagine, these offerings have certain limits. In this post, I’ll explain the different AWS usage tiers.

At first, moving into the cloud feels like a huge step. And it is, technology-wise. But it is pretty easy for customers. If you don’t believe me, just read my post “Amazon EC2 How to.” Getting used to a new environment isn’t the only thing that keeps people away from trying out cloud services. Using the cloud is not free; therefore, trying out cloud computing will cost you some money. To tear down this barrier, Amazon offers free usage tiers for new customers. Some of those tiers are also available for existing customers.

These tiers do come with some restrictions; otherwise, it would be hard for Amazon to earn some money. One limitation is that most of the free usage tiers are only available for one year and for new customers. Time is not the only restriction: the service’s resources are also limited. Some of the free usage tiers are also available for existing customers and are not limited to the first year after you sign up.

I hope you are curious, but before you rush to Amazon and sign up, you should check their website for more information about the AWS Free Usage Tiers, the AWS Free Usage Tier FAQ and the AWS Free Usage Tier Offer Terms. I do my best to keep this post up to date, but I can’t guarantee that everything is still valid when you read it. So check the facts before you try out some of the free usage tiers because exceeding their limits will cost you money.

Here’s an overview of the AWS Free Usage Tiers, which are only available for one year after signup. The limits are per month:

  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
    • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux Micro Instance usage
    • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Microsoft Windows Server Micro Instance usage
    • 750 hours of an Elastic Load Balancer plus 15 GB data processing
    • 30 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage, plus 2 million I/Os and 1 GB of snapshot storage
    • Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage
    • 20.000 Get Requests
    • 2.000 Put Requests
  • Relational Database Service (RDS)
    • 750 hours of Amazon RDS Single-AZ Micro DB Instances (MySQL, Oracle BYOL or SQL Server Express Edition)
    • 20 GB of database storage
    • 10 million I/Os
    • 20 GB of backup storage
  • Data Transfer
    • 15 GB of bandwidth out aggregated across all AWS services

The following AWS Free Usage Tiers are also available to all customers:

  • DynamoDB
    • 100 MB of storage
    • 5 units of write capacity
    • 10 units of read capacity for Amazon DynamoDB
  • Simple Queue Service (SQS) and Simple Notification Service (SNS)
    • 100.000 Requests of Amazon Simple Queue Service
    • 100.000 Requests
    • 100.000 HTTP notifications
    • 1.000 email notifications for Amazon Simple Notification Service
  • SimpleDB
    • 25 Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hours
    • 1 GB of Storage
  • Simple Workflow (SWF)
    • 1.000 Amazon SWF workflow executions
    • 10,000 activity tasks, signals, timers and markers
    • 30.000 workflow-days
  • CloudWatch
    • 10 Amazon Cloudwatch metrics
    • 10 alarms
    •  1.000.000 API requests

Last, but not least, there is a 60-day free trial for Amazon ElastiCache that is available for all customers who haven’t used ElastiCache yet. You can find information about this free offering on the Amazon ElastiCache – 60 Day Free Trial webpage.

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