AWS WordPress cost – Prices for hosting WordPress on AWS Lightsail (2020) – Cheaper than the rest

AWS WordPress cost – Prices for hosting WordPress on AWS Lightsail (2020) – Cheaper than the rest

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AWS WordPress cost – What does it cost to host WordPress on Amazon AWS Lightsail?

AWS Lightsail for WordPress hosting has a very cheap headline price of just $3.50 per month, with your first month free. But what does that buy you and what are the other costs you can expect? Is AWS expensive? Is it true that you get unexpected high bills with AWS? What does AWS WordPress cost? Depending on traffic, it can be as little as £4 or £5 per month.

For an example site with around 200,000 page views per month, as a first year free tier user you can expect to pay around $5.48 in the first month and then $8.97, or just £6.90 per month. This will vary according to your site and your traffic, but we’ll show you how to estimate costs. After your free tier year ends, the cost would be around $14.53 or £11.16 per month for that same example site.

With less than 200,000 page views your prices would be a lot lower. The great thing is that as your traffic grows, your costs will only go up slowly.

In this article we’ll explain what it will cost to run a secure and high-performance WordPress site on AWS Lightsail. We’ll cover:

  • The AWS services needed when running WordPress
  • The prices for those services
  • Free tier costs for new users in your first year
  • Typical prices for a modest WordPress site
  • How to calculate prices

In future articles in this complete guide to WordPress on AWS Lightsail, we’ll explain how to manage your AWS bills, prevent unexpected costs, and how to tune your setup to reduce your costs.

Be aware that the prices in this article (written December 2019) may have changed. There are links lower down where you check the current fee structure at AWS.

AWS Lightsail vs SiteGround for WordPress Hosting

SiteGround is one of the most popular managed WordPress hosting services, and for some people, like those just starting out with a new blog, it is ideal. The problem with SiteGround is that when your traffic outgrows your payment plan, you will have a sharp price increase. When you get to the end of your introductory pricing period you will have another sharp increase. If your site traffic goes over the limit of your plan then your site will be turned off unless you pay quite a lot more for a higher service level.

SiteGround is ideal for some people, especially complete beginners. We’ll cover SiteGround in an upcoming article.

With AWS, the prices are harder to predict, but the benefit gained is that due to the on-demand pricing model, the costs only increase as your site grows. When you start out, prices are very cheap. You will only pay more when your traffic grows. When your blog or website is getting a lot more traffic, you’ll no doubt be happy to pay a little more because it will be earning you more.

After your first free year, the price increase will be quite small. As well as not running into sudden large increases in costs, you will also be running on a platform that easily scales to handle your growing traffic.

Another advantage of AWS is that you can add servers when you want them. With managed services like SiteGround, you typically have to choose how many servers you intend to have when you sign up and pick your price plan. There is a temptation to pick a more expensive plan “just in case” you decide to start another server. Maybe you have intentions to start up a few different sites, so you pay for the more expensive plan. After you’ve spent all your time and energy on your first site, you never get around to those others.

Or maybe you only planned one site but once you get going you realise you want another.

With AWS you can simply fire up a new server and start paying for it only when you need it. There’s also no long-term commitment with AWS. If you want to switch to a different host or turn off a server, the charges stop straight away.

Siteground prices

There are lots of options but we’ll pick the middle ground – the GrowBig plan. This allows multiple WordPress sites with a total 20GB disk space and up to 25,000 monthly visits in total across all your sites. The price is £4.95 per month in the first year but goes up to £14.95 per month after that, unless you commit to paying for 2 or 3 years up front to lock in the introductory pricing. That’s a big commitment.

That limit of 25,000 visits per month is a problem for people looking to build a successful blogging business. Scale up to the GoGeek plan and you’re looking at paying SiteGround £24.95 per month for up to 100,000 visits per month.

For some people, SiteGround is a good choice. With AWS it will be cheaper in nearly all cases, but you will have to be more involved in the setup. The CodeThump AWS WordPress course will teach you how, but if you’re not willing to be hands-on then check out our guide to using SiteGround and our guide to picking the best managed WordPress host.

If you’re not ready to get involved in managing your own WordPress site and you don’t expect to ever have reasonable amounts of traffic, then AWS is not for you. Of the managed WordPress hosting services, SiteGround is our preferred choice.

If you do expect to have reasonable traffic, AWS is easier than you might fear.

By the way, 25,000 visits per month is only around 800-900 visits per day.

The issue with SiteGround is a concern for people who have or hope to have a lot of traffic. Bear in mind that if you host several WordPress sites on your GrowBig plan they all share one overall limit for processing, so with two or three sites you will run into the limit sooner.

SiteGround says that the 25,000 monthly visits “isn’t a limit”, but it is closely related to the limits. You’re limited by the number of processor cycles on your server. More traffic means more processor cycles, simple as that. When you get to the limit your site will be “limited” until the end of the calendar month when your billing cycle resets.

“Limited” means turned off.

The only solution is to upgrade to a more expensive plan.

Now, SiteGround does have first-class customer service, and for a new account hitting the limits for the first time it is likely that they will help you out, but this is hassle you will have to deal with and you will have to pay more if your traffic levels stay as high.

If you never expect anything like 1000 page views a day on your blog, you’ll be fine with SiteGround and find it fast and easy. Otherwise, AWS could be your answer.

For further reading if, here’s an explanation of SiteGround’s biggest limitation.

The WordPress setup on AWS Lightsail

We’ll assume that you already have your domain. Domains on AWS start at $9 for and $12 for a .com, which is very competitive. Just to be clear, that’s a one-off annual cost. Other domain name sellers charge very similar. You might save a tiny amount by going elsewhere, but if you’re going to use AWS Lightsail and haven’t bought a domain yet, then it would be an advantage to get your domain name on AWS too, so everything is in one place.

Here’s what you’ll need for a quality WordPress environment on AWS. If you’re a beginner then don’t worry about what any of this means because we’ll teach you how to set it up and use it in step-by-step tutorials in this course.

  • AWS Lightsail WordPress server instance
  • Static IP address for your server
  • Snapshot backups of your server
  • AWS Cloudfront CDN to improve performance
  • AWS S3 storage for offloading your blog images, which we will also serve via CDN, to improve performance
  • DNS services via AWS Route 53

Let’s have a look at the pricing for these AWS services. Prices are often given “up to” some limit. Normally the prices over that limit are lower, and the limits are usually high.

You should feel free to skim over these detailed prices if you’re not interested, because we’ll give you a full example with the total costs lower down.

AWS Lightsail WordPress prices

The starting price is $3.50 per month. Your first month is free if you are a new user on the free tier in your first year. There are different sizes of Lightsail WordPress server according to your performance and capacity needs. Unless you have an established site with a lot of traffic you’ll be looking at the smaller sizes. When your traffic grows you can move to a bigger server, and even add load-balancing (we cover that later in this course too).

$3.50 per month gets you a server with 512MB RAM, 1 CPU, a 20GB SSD, and includes 1TB data transfer.

You can scale all the way up to 32GB RAM, 8 CPUs, 640GB SSD storage, and 7TB data. Here are the intermediate prices. Just $5 gives you double the memory, storage, and data of the smaller server.

Beyond the included 1TB of data, data transfer from your server out to the internet will cost you $0.09 per GB. We can forget about that because we will be using a Cloudfront CDN, and data transfer out to Cloudfront is free.

aws wordpress cost

AWS Lightsail additional costs

With your Lightsail WordPress instance you will also need two more chargeable services.

First, you want a static IP address. These are free as long as they are attached to a Lightsail instance.

Second, you will want to periodically take a snapshot of your server as a backup. Creating a snapshot is free, but you are charged for storing that snapshot. The cost is $0.05 per GB per month.

For example, if your WordPress site was using up the entire 20GB SSD on the $3.50 server, then it would cost you $1 to store a snapshot for 1 month.

In practice your site is not going to be anywhere near 20GB. If your site has a lot of content and a lot of images, and totals 5GB, then one snapshot backup would cost you $0.25 per month.

AWS Cloudfront prices

Your Cloudfront CDN will incur charges according to the amount of data transferred out to the internet or in to your WordPress server. On the free tier, you get 12 months free with an allowance of 50GB data transfer and 2 million requests per month.

Standard pricing depends on the region where the data is going to, but for example the charges for data going to the Europe region are as follows. It’s the same cost for US and Canada, and slightly more expensive for other regions like Africa. Later in this course we’ll show you how to configure Cloudfront to cut costs by not serving geographic regions or countries where you don’t have customers or from where traffic will not bring you any income. You don’t have to pay to send data to Iran or Aruba or Angola if that’s not your market.

  • Outbound data – $0.085 per GB up to 10TB
  • Inbound data – $0.02 per GB
  • HTTP requests – $0.009 per 10000 requests
  • HTTPS requests – $0.012 per 10000 requests
  • Cache invalidations – $.005 per path

Unless you are running a site where users can upload content, the “inbound” data transfer charges for your site will be minimal.

We’re going to show you how to set your entire WordPress system to use HTTPS, so you can ignore the HTTP pricing.

We’re also going to show you how to set up your CDN caching behaviour to work ideally for WordPress, so you will avoid ever needing to invalidate the cache, and so you can ignore the cache invalidation prices.

AWS S3 storage prices

In this course we’ll encourage you to use S3 to store your WordPress blog images. Those images will be served through your Cloudfront CDN. This has two benefits – it reduces the load on your WordPress server, which helps performance, and it reduces the size of your WordPress server, which reduces the cost of maintaining backups.

With S3 you are charged for the amount of data stored, the amount of data transferred, and the number of requests for the data:

  • Storage – $0.024 per GB up to 50TB
  • GET requests (outbound) – $0.00042 per 1000
  • PUT requests (inbound) – $0.0053 per 1000
  • Data transfer to the internet – 1GB free, then $0.09 per GB
  • Data transfer to Cloudfront – Free

AWS Route 53 DNS prices

If your domain is managed in Route 53 you will be charged a flat $0.50 per month. On top of that there are charges for DNS queries of $0.4 per million queries per month. DNS queries for Alias records connecting to your Cloudfront or S3 are free, so we’re only looking at costs for DNS queries that allows the rest of the world to find your site. One million DNS queries in a month plus your flat fee for the domain name entry would come in at $0.90 per month.

How to calculate AWS prices

In another article we cover how to minimise your bills and how to avoid unexpected bills. If you already have a site and know your typical traffic levels, then you can calculate, or at least estimate, your own prices.

AWS pricing –
AWS pricing calculator –

Example costs for AWS Lightsail WordPress

For the following services:

  • Domain name and DNS records in route 53
  • Lightsail WordPress server
  • Static IP address
  • Snapshot backup
  • Cloudfront CDN
  • S3 storage for blog images

And the following example usage levels:

  • 20GB SSD Lightsail
  • 5GB snapshot
  • Cloudfront – 200,000 pages per month (~7000 pages per day) at 0.5MB per page
    • 100GB outbound data average 100KB per object
    • 1GB inbound data
  • S3 – 5000 images served per day (which is a lot, because your images will be cached in Cloudfront anyway)
    • 5GB storage
    • 150,000 GET requests
    • 300 PUT requests
  • Route 53
    • Domain name
    • 1 million DNS queries

Then we get the following costs for hosting WordPress on AWS Lightsail in the standard tier with reasonable traffic for a blog:

  • Lightsail – $3.50
  • Snapshot – $0.25
  • Cloudfront – $9.68
  • S3 – $0.20
  • Route 53 – $0.90

Total cost per month = $14.53 or £11.16

For a free tier user in the first year, the cost would be $8.98 per month ($5.48 in the first month), or just £6.90 per month.

That’s right, for a WordPress site with around 200,000 page views per month, with a CDN, HTTP, SSL certificate (free of charge at AWS), and a fast server, the cost will be around £7 per month in your first year and around £11 per month after that.

If you’re just starting out and have low traffic, the price will not be much over the $3.50 cost for the Lightsail server.

Remember earlier when we looked at SiteGround prices we gave the price for the GrowBig plan which allows 25,000 visits per month. In the example above we’re looking at costs for a site with nearly ten times that amount of traffic. The SiteGround cost was £14.95 per month, for a lot less traffic.

At SiteGround, the GoGeek plan which allows up to 100,000 visits monthly would be £24.95 per month

Plug in different numbers for your page views and page sizes and data volumes and you’ll get different prices, but you can see that even doubling your traffic doesn’t result in a huge jump. Use the AWS pricing calculator (link above) to plug in your numbers, then double your numbers and see what the cost increase would be, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The prices given in this example use traffic for a fairly busy site – about 200k page views per month. The prices will vary according to your site usage. A site that has few images but lots of page traffic will have one cost, and a site with less traffic but photo-heavy pages with much more data would have a different price.

If you’re starting out, you should know that the prices at the beginning are very small. When you have very little traffic it won’t cost you much. The costs will only start going up when your site becomes much more successful.

The biggest price is for the Cloudfront CDN, where the prices depend entirely on the traffic to your website.

For Lightsail and S3, the prices also depend on the amount of data you have, but even with several GB of photos in your blog the costs are still very low.

If you already have a successful site you should know your traffic levels and can easily use tools like Pingdom to measure the data size and number of requests in your typical pages. Plug those numbers into the cost calculator to get an estimate.

What does AWS WordPress hosting cost?

Depending on your traffic, as little as £4 or £5 per month. AWS WordPress costs less than SiteGround with a lot more traffic. As we will show in the rest of this course, AWS WordPress Hosting scales further and performs better, with no restrictions. You can expand as rapidly as your site traffic grows, and you only pay for what you use.

There is no upfront commitment. If you no longer need it, turn it off and the charges stop. If you need more servers or more performance or more capacity, turn it on and only start paying for it then.

It is true that the costs with AWS can vary, because pricing is based on usage. When your traffic goes up, that’s a good thing, and the costs only rise slowly.

There are some things you can do to avoid unnecessary costs – see other articles in this course.

There are some things you can do to control your budget and ensure you don’t suddenly get a massive bill without warning – we’ll also teach you that in this course.

It is true that you have more work to do when setting up AWS WordPress hosting, but you can follow our guide and you do not need to be an expert.

Finally, it is important to manage the security of your AWS account and your WordPress server. We’ll show you how to do that too.


What does AWS Lightsail WordPress hosting cost?

Depending on your traffic, as little as £4 or £5 per month. Costs increase as your traffic increases.

What are the costs for AWS WordPress?

You will be charged per month for each Lightsail instance depending the size and performance you choose. You will also incur charges for the number of requests handled by your server, the amount of data transmitted, storage of backups, load balancers, CDNs, and other services depending on what you use. This post has more details.

Is AWS WordPress free for free tier users?

No, though some of your costs will be lower if you are on the free tier. You can get the first month free on the smaller AWS Lightsail WordPress instance.

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