Which EC2 is right for you?

EC2 is a service that provides virtual machines in the cloud where you only pay for the capacity you use and choose from ‘families’ of instance types that are good for different use cases.

What do the letters and numbers mean?
How do I pick an instance type?
What are the storage options?
How does security work?
How do I pay for all this?
How do I manage costs?
Getting started with Free Tier

What do the letters and numbers mean?


Source: AWS Re:Invent 2018 Slides
Family – Different instance types with resources for different use cases.

Generation – AWS phase out older technologies and bring in new ones with more resources using these numbers to show which is which.

Size – Resources go up in a linear fashion, as well as the price that goes with it.

How do I pick an instance type?



For websites and applications. You may need an instance type with a good balance of network resources, compute and memory like the general purpose M series or T series that can ‘burst’ when you need it.

Big Data Processing

For CPU intensive tasks that need to scale up and then be shut down when the number crunching is complete. Depending on how big the data crunching workload is the R or X series could be an option.

Video creation

For video creation services, 3D visualisations and streaming graphics-intensive applications consider the G series.

Learn more using the Instance Type table in the AWS Documentation.

What are the storage options?

Instance storage – The hard drive attached to the instance. It deletes when the instance is terminated.

Block storage (EBS) – Like a network hard drive that persists separately from the EC2 for databases, application hosting, and storage.

Object storage – S3 and Glacier

File storage (EFS) – a managed network file system that can be shared across multiple Amazon EC2 instances and is scalable depending on workload. By default, you can have up to 10 file systems per account per region.

How does security work?

How do I pay for all this?

There are four ways to pay for Amazon EC2 instances:


Reserved Instances

Spot Instances

Dedicated Hosts

How do I manage costs?

AWS provides a Cost and Usage report containing a detailed dataset including metadata about AWS services, pricing, and reservations.

This can be delivered to an S3 bucket and can be used in conjunction with AWS Athena or simply downloaded as a CSV to ‘slice and dice’

Getting started

To get started with EC2, the Free Tier offers 750 hours of t2 micro of EC2 compute services. If you exceed the limits the standard rates apply.

To learn more check out the 10-minute tutorials from AWS.

Picture by Pixabay on Pexels



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April 16, 2019