AWS Hosting Costs, The Truth

Most articles on the web overstate the cost of Amazon AWS (AWS) hosting.  AWS is the most extensible and arguably the most high performance cloud service provider on the market.  I describe them as a “cloud service provider” because of the broad list of services they actually provide. This article will focus only on entry level web hosting services.  I suspect the fact that you can pay as much as you need to for massive amounts of cloud service from Amazon has led to the overstatement of the costs of AWS.  In addition their entry level products have actually decreased in price over the years.

In summary, ASW pricing is rarely, if ever treated fairly in price comparisons. I will do my best to accurately present the facts here.

What services am I talking about?

This article is intentionally limited to website hosting services.  Even with that limitation of scope there are still at least four different service/price combinations to consider.  Most website hosting providers provide an introductory price that is the price that you see in ads etc. These special prices may last anywhere from 1 month up to 1 year.  If you stay with a provider the cost will eventually increase to the standard cost.  Amazon is no exception.  They have a “free tier” for most services that usually lasts for 1 year. In addition there are often different prices for hosting a static site versus one with server side processes.

This article will use basic entry level standard pricing as well as introductory pricing for comparison.  The costs of increased service plans are different for each provider and cannot easily be compared.  I have listed domain name registration separately as there are so many choices and mechanisms for this. Eventually, no matter what hosting service you select you will pay around $12.00 per year for this.

Compare the actual numbers!

For this comparison I have used S3 (storage only) service for the static hosting at AWS. For dynamic sites I used the free EC2 tier for the introductory year and then basic Light Sail for the long-term.  For GoDaddy and Bluehost I used the current prices on their sites for the given services.

Basic Cost Comparison

The above table makes it clear that AWS is actually least expensive choice. Even if you add in 1/12th of the annual cost of a domain AWS still wins both the first and subsequent years.  The exception to this is the promotion price at GoDaddy for a static site.  This is free instead of $1.00 per month.

What is not shown or discussed here is the performance and reliability of AWS.  Have you ever seen Amazon web services down?


From a price, performance, reliability and security standpoints I think AWS should be strongly considered by everyone, even for very basic websites. The one drawback could be the learning curve.  I personally think this easily overcome with the large amount of information available on the web and from software vendors for AWS applications.

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