Getting My AWS Cost to Nearly Nothing

Some background: I run a couple of websites in Amazon Web Services (AWS). These include my photography website project, This post is a quick overview of how I managed to save ~$55/month in AWS charges., Version 1

The first iteration of (available for view on GitHub here) utilized the following technologies:

Lots of moving parts, but generally a very straightforward implementation of a website. I would develop the new code locally for any features/bugs, then push it up in a package to Elastic Beanstalk.

Similarly, I had a local SQL Server database that I would develop against, then I would propagate any of the content and schema changes up to RDS.

The Problem

At the end of the day, the hosted solution of Elastic Beanstalk+RDS meant that I didn’t have to pay attention to the uptime of my website, as Amazon took care of that. However, this hands-off approach also meant that I was paying more, to the tune of ~$55/month.

While I can handle that level of charge, I started thinking about why I had it hosted in a platform. This introspection caused me to rethink how I was running my website.

Additionally, the beauty of having a web application that has a live database back-end is that changes are instantaneous. However, this precludes the need to change often. is not a website that requires real-time changes. In fact, I rarely would update it beyond a monthly refresh.

Moving Forward

Given the two problems listed above, cost and “I don’t need real-time database updates”, I set forth to change over the website to the following technologies:

Local Development

The change in development strategies, given the different technologies above, isn’t much. I still am working in an ASP.NET web application (ASP.NET Core this time around, as I wanted to work on some new tech) with a SQL Server back-end.

The difference is that I do not propagate the changes from the ASP.NET web application and SQL Server back-end anywhere else; it is merely for local development. Once I am done with the website updates, I merely run the (very wonderful) HTTrack Website Copier program against my local website. This generates a full static site of the web application, with all links intact.

As I already offload the photo hosting to Amazon CloudFront, this change in generation creates a website that is very small (2.5MB in total). From here, it becomes a simple exercise in uploading the generated HTML/CSS/JS to an S3 bucket, which has CloudFront in front of it.

To finish it off, I’ve updated the DNS records in DNSimple to now point to the CloudFront distribution, rather than the Elastic Beanstalk ELB.


There are two main benefits here:

  • Cost
  • Speed

I don’t have a finalized cost savings, but I expect my bill for to be less than $1 now that it’s merely hosted in S3 with the CloudFront distribution in front of it. I’ll update this page once I have a good monthly number.

With regard to speed, this is measured in latency to the user, as there is no longer any ASP.NET handler code executing, nor is there any database execution. The only items loading are on the user side, and these are merely HTML, CSS, and JS files.