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In this unbiased review of Amazon Lightsail, we're going to take a look at the speed, performance, ease of use, and value that comes with this WordPress web hosting service.
Amazon Lightsail does not have an affiliate program, so you don't have to worry about any ulterior motives here. Instead, we wrote this article after testing out the service as a potential replacement to cheap hosting from Bluehost for low budget clients.
We hadn’t associated ourselves with this service for a couple of years, and Amazon Lightsail in 2020 is much different from the earlier versions. Without any further ado, let's discuss what Amazon Lightsail is and why it may be a good host for your WordPress website.
Keep in mind, this review is looking at Amazon Lightsail through a WordPress web hosting lens.
Amazon Lightsail is quite simply the easiest way to get yourself integrated into the Amazon Web Services ecosystem. It offers a virtual private server and includes everything that you need to manage and host a WordPress website.
Here's what Amazon has to say about Lightsail in their FAQ section:
“You can get preconfigured virtual private server plans that include everything to easily deploy and manage your application. Lightsail is best suited to projects that require a few virtual private servers and users who prefer a simple management interface. Common use cases for Lightsail include running websites, web applications, blogs, e-commerce sites, simple software, and more.”
This means that you get access to your virtual computing machine, SSD storage, A static IP, DNS, and more. Essentially, if you're looking to host a WordPress website using AWS hardware, this is your best bet. Again, it's not limited to this CMS, but because we're a WordPress web design agency, that's all we really care about.
If you need a TLDR: Basically Amazon EC2, but easy to use, lower cost bandwidth, with a nice dashboard, and support for WordPress.
Keyword here. Simple.
Lightsail is a really interesting offering, in that it is pretty much in a class of its own. Pricing wise, it started around $3 per month which rivals many budget shared hosting companies (which we really don’t like).
That means that if you're looking for something better than shared hosting, but at the same price point, Lightsail should instantly be on your list.
At the same time, this is definitely not shared hosting, and as we're going to discuss in a later point of this article, Lightsail offers enterprise level tools and services for pricing that rivals the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to WordPress hosting. Odd, right?
You can think of it as a step up from Bluehost and GoDaddy, and the ugly duckling when it comes to VPS and cloud hosting solutions.
We think that it's a good middle of the road product between shared hosting and enterprise level cloud hosting.
There are a couple of reasons why Amazon lightsail has gotten really good in the past year.
First, there's the pricing. You get access to decent hardware for low costs, and this is billed month to month meaning you're not trapped into a three year contract.
For only $3.50 per month, you get access to 512 MB of RAM and 20 gigabytes of SSD storage. There's also one terabyte of transfer included with this, and this plan Offers more than enough for a basic WordPress website for a small local business.
The plan can be expanded to virtually anything you want, but after the $10/month offering, we would recommend taking a look at Cloudways instead of Amazon lightsail (This is only if you're looking to host WordPress).
Let's take a look at the dashboard.
The dashboard is really well designed and easy to use even for a beginner. This is in stark contrast to the difficult to understand AWS dashboards that come with EC2 and S3 (though they have gotten better in the past couple of months).
It's really quick and easy to create an instance (which is also known as a virtual private server), and install WordPress in one click.
Once created, it's very easy to manage the VPS.
But the dashboard and simplicity aren't the main selling points of lightsail for us. Instead, you get access to tons of enterprise level tools, all of which were added in 2020, for the same price as low performing shared hosting.
Let's take a quick look at what was added in 2020 to Amazon lightsail, and why this is incredibly beneficial when hosting WordPress with it.
First, you can find all the release reports at this URL, which contains hundreds of thousands of words of information regarding Amazon Lightsail.
First, many of the features that we're going to discuss here are typically found on enterprise level cloud hosting. Cloud hosting can be really cheap if it's not managed (DO starts at $5/mo – here’s a $90 Credit), but gets somewhat more expensive when it becomes managed WordPress hosting.
There are three great features included with lightsail that make it really good in 2020 , allowing it to go toe to toe with any shared hosting offering out there.
These include managed databases, load balancing, and block storage. Let's tackle each one of these features, reviewing why exactly this is good when it comes to WordPress hosting.
First, managed databases are standard with many WordPress oriented hosts. However, if you're looking to access the benefits that cloud hosting has to offer, while still paying a low price, typically you would use a service like digitalocean. Digitalocean doesn't have managed databases for its bare bones plans, and even though you can install WordPress, it becomes difficult to manage.
Block storage is another benefit that you get with cloud hosting which also comes with Amazon lightsail.
Say you were hosting your WordPress website with GoDaddy, a shared hosting provider. You get a standard amount of storage, and once you outgrow it you'll need to upgrade your plan. Even if your website doesn't utilize all of the other resources on the server, only Exceeding the SSD storage, you'll need to pay for more on all fronts. This doesn't make sense from a business and financial perspective, but it ensures that the hosting company gets the most money out of you (We really don't like shared hosting here).
Black storage is basically attaching additional SSD storage to your existing VPS instance. That means that you don't need to upgrade the actual CPU, and RAM, but you can add more storage much like plugging a flash drive into a computer.
This is really helpful, especially if your WordPress website is growing in size. Lightsail block storage uses solid-state drives (SSD), And each disk can be up to 16 terabytes in capacity.
Finally, there's load balancing, a term that you only typically hear when discussing enterprise level hosting (that comes with an enterprise level price tag… think $200 plus per month.)
This routes web traffic across your instances so that your websites and applications can accommodate variations in traffic. essentially if you have a high traffic load due to a viral post or a news article about your company that links to your website, that sudden influx of traffic is split across multiple instances, ensuring that everything loads quickly for everybody, and your servers don't crash.
This costs $18.00 per month, which is a bit more than $3 per month, but much better than the crazy price tags that come with other cloud hosting offering load balancing.
According to Amazon, “Lightsail load balancer also includes integrated certificate management, providing free SSL/TLS certificates that can be provisioned and added to load balancers with just a few clicks.”
Amazon lightsail has really stepped up their game in 2020, offering enterprise level WordPress hosting features for only $3 per month. This crushes any shared hosting offering out there, and goes toe to toe with some of the entry level cloud hosting providers out there.
If you're shopping around for cheap web hosting for your Amazon website, we definitely recommend taking a look at Amazon lightsail. They even offer a one month free trial, so you can set up a test instance, install WordPress, and test everything out before even needing to pay.
We have hosted many websites on Amazon lightsail in the past, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out in the comments below.
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