Manage your AWS costs

Tags: ACG

As you begin your AWS studies, it can be intimidating to navigate through the different services and understand the cost associated under your AWS Free Tier account. We encourage students to consciously manage their resources and monitor their cost control in labs.

When you start one of our Associate courses you are advised to open an account with AWS and make use of the 'Free Tier' they offer for your training. The Free Tier offering is defined by AWS, and is applied as a rebate to your monthly bill. Free Tier is not a special lab environment, and it imposes no restrictions on what you can do in AWS. During the course you will be advised on which services and sizes to use to minimize cost and stay within the rebate. If you follow this advice, and are aware of what you are doing and why, the costs will be negligible. AWS also take steps to help protect you from mistakes by preventing excessive number of resources being used unintentionally.

Ultimately you are responsible for managing your resources and therefore your costs. However we do provide some guidance to help you keep them low or zero.

Limitations of the AWS Free Tier account

Read the AWS documentation on the Free Tier (external site, opens in new tab) and be aware of the limitations.

  • The age of your account: Some aspects of free tier are only valid for 12 months
  • The type of resource that qualify: Only certain types qualify (e.g. t2-micros )
  • The amount of resource used: A fixed amount of each resource is rebated/refunded per month.

Ideas to keep tabs on costs

Most resources you use will attract a cost. Be aware of what resources you turn on and think about the when you can decommission them and the cost / rebate while they are running.

With a small amount of practice you will see that if you follow the guidance in the course the costs will be a few cents and most is covered by the rebate. This is also excellent practice for when you are working commercially and every decision has a cost implication to your company.

Helpful tips

  • Read and understand the Free Tier allocations.
  • Check that your account is less than 12 months old. If it is old, shut it down and open a new account with a new email address, or contact AWS Support and ask about getting the Free Tier reset or extended.
  • Only use instance sizes recommended in the labs unless you make a conscious decision to experiment and accept the cost.
  • Clean up after yourself. There is very little that you cannot recreate as needed, including the Default VPC (external site, opens in new tab)). In addition, the process of recreating resources is good practice.
  • Check your billing in the console, and set up billing alerts if you want (see above on how to do this).
  • Use Tag Editor to track down orphaned resources and either tag them or delete them.
  • Try to limit your lab work to two or three Regions only. That way you have very few regions to check each day to ensure there are no unnecessary resource left running.
  • Common sources of unexpected cost; ELBs, NAT Gateways, unattached ENIs / EIPs, EC2 instances not terminated, RDS instances not deleted, unneeded EBS and RDS snapshots.

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