I am currently hosting this site on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). For the first 12 months I am eligible for the Free Usage Tier pricing.

The Free Tier isn’t completely free but includes ‘5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 20,000 Get Requests, and 2,000 Put Requests’.

Initially, I had to test, review and deploy the entire site a few times before I got things right and Google’s crawler was busy re-indexing the site so I wasn’t wholly surprised when September’s bill was a measly 15 cents.

The breakdown was as follows:

  • S3 storage $0.01
  • GET requests $0.03
  • PUT requests $0.08
  • Tax $0.03

The only element that puzzled me was the S3 storage which is free for up to 5GB. I checked the size of the site which is just 21MB (all images are outsourced to Picasa).

$ du -sh public
21M    public

I sent an email to Amazon customer service asking for clarification - not because I can’t afford a penny - but because I would like to understand the pricing structure ready for when the 12 month Free Tier period expires.

In the interim period, I found the answer on the AWS FAQ - the Free Tier assumes Standard S3 Storage will be used and I was using the following ‘s3cmd’ to deploy my site.

s3cmd sync --acl-public --reduced-redundancy public/* s3://#{s3_bucket}/

The choice of the Reduced Redunancy Storage option makes sense as this normally costs less ($0.093 per GB) than standard storage ($0.125 per GB) and this is a low traffic website (and I have multiple backups).

However, this caveat is actually covered in the last section of the FAQ

Does the AWS free tier include Amazon S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS)?

No, the AWS free tier does not include Amazon S3 RRS storage. The AWS free tier includes 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, which offers the highest Amazon S3 durability.

A couple of days later I received a response from a Amazon Customer Service rep who confirmed that Reduced Redundancy Storage wasn’t covered by the free tier, apologised for the misunderstanding and applied a $5 credit to my AWS account for the ‘inconvenience caused’. For me, this will probably equate to 3 years ‘free’ hosting.

Once again, fantastic customer service from Amazon. I was originally thinking of investigating altenative hosting options when the 12 month period expires but, on reflection, I don’t think I will bother.