AWS Advice

fischgeek profile image fischgeek ・1 min read

I've been struggling with getting started with AWS EC2. It took me a long time to even wrap my head around what that meant. There are so many articles and video tutorials out there on this stuff. That in itself is overwhelming. Often outdated immediately after publishing.

Some tutorials say choose this option, and that option ends up not existing or is named something different. It's really frustrating. And while AWS does have extensive documentation I find I face the same issues there as well.

I'm not a n00b necessarily with linux, but definitely a novice. I learn best by watching others, and or driving under supervision. So, if anyone knows of any decent, yet current, resources or is (shot-in-the-dark) willing to assist me, I would greatly appreciate it!


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oryanmoshe profile image
Oryan Moshe

Can you elaborate on the specific issues you encounter?
Choosing a machine type? Spinning it up?

fischgeek profile image
fischgeek Author

Yes and yes. The docs aren't really clear on those either. I spent so much time reading up on the instances and what they were good for, but when I got into select one there were new options that said "better". Why were they better? Back to researching. I guess that's just the way it goes though. And, there are so many settings in the aws calculator that I have no clue what they do. It's like you have to be an expert going into this to understand it.

One thing that really gets me every time is cost. They're not clear on what changes will incur costs, and what those respective costs will be. They just say "may increase your monthly bill" -- the budget tool is no help in this area as well. I've set up alerts and that's all well and good, but that's basically a live version. I want to know what if I add 20GBs to my instance, what will that do?

I spent most of the day trying to get a multi site setup on my ec2 instance. Granted, this was probably mostly lack of apache2 knowledge but still took a while.

I don't know, maybe I'm just in a big rant fest right now about having to research each and every little thing I encounter or want to do?

oryanmoshe profile image
Oryan Moshe

It's not just you, AWS is something you have to get used to. If you really plan to get into it I recommend trying a course on udemy to learn about all the different service available.

Back to your specific case:
The way machines in AWS work (and EC2 specifically) is they have an intended purpose category (t for general purpose, r for memory optimized, c for compute), they have the generation (3, 4, 5) and they have the size (large, xlarge, 24xlarge).

All of these factors affect the pricing, for example for a machine used in our MemSQL cluster I'd choose a memory optimized one (cause MemSQL sits in the RAM), but for a "utils" server used to manage some service I'd take a general purpose one. If I'd take a compute machine for Mem, I'd have to pay for a huge one to get to the amounts of memory I need.

In general it's advised to use the latest generation available in the region you picked, it's usually cheaper.

My rule of thumb is this: pick the smallest machine I can get away in the latest generation. The beauty about cloud computing is that you can upgrade or downgrade your machines as you go, you don't have to commit to a single size or type from the beginning (hence the name Elastic Compute Cloud)

I don't really use the budget tool, I find it unintuitive. I use the pricing page for each service I use and try to estimate the costs. I'm lucky that I work in a relatively large company with people that work in cost optimization and can help me understand it better if there's an issue.

If you have any specific issues or questions you can send me a PM and I'll try to help as best as I can (:

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fischgeek profile image
fischgeek Author

Thank you for your response. It cleared some things up for me. What I personally got out of that was "general purpose" is probably the way to go. lol! I appreciate your willingness to help!

th3n00bc0d3r profile image


if you could specify, what you want to achieve with EC2, i could perhaps write a tutorial, because on my journey into AWS, Damn MAN they got Shit Documentation!