Are you surprised to see EC2 being labeled as a web hosting service? From a recent study it turns out that among the Alexa 10K and Alexa 100K Amazon EC2 comprises 4% and 2% of the market share for web hosting, the highest percentages among competiting services. You can partake in hosting your site on EC2, in fact, free for the first 12 months of any new customer.
What is EC2 exactly? It’s known also as the Amazon Cloud. Users set up an account with their credit card for payment. Through the account, users activate “instances”, which are remote virtual machines equipped with memory, processors, drive space (all of it virtual) and a dynamic IP address.
So what does it take to mimic the big Alexa 10K and 100K sites and set up hosting on EC2? Quite a bit in fact. After selecting an instance type, let’s say for example a Linux machine with the appropriate amount of memory and drive space, you will need to install a LAMP stack comprising Apache, MySQL and PHP. Then suppose you want to make a new WordPress blog, you don’t have the benefit of Softaculous, the install script for many applications with cPanel so you will have to install by hand.
Configurations of Apache and other components will also require fiddling with configuration files. Finally the domain name needs to point to the IP address. There is quite a bit of work involved in getting a good hosting environment upon EC2. After a year the charges kick in though at the lowest tier of usage the monthly cost is about $15, comparatively higher than a standard web host. Moreover you will have little support and require a dedicated team that can work with a full stack technology. The benefit is of course unlimited flexibility.
In contrast, using a cPanel-enabled web host like A Small Orange (ASO) has many fewer hurdles. We picked A Small Orange because one of us has used it before and was impressed by their pricing plan (they start off with a very affordable $25 per year) and the super email-based customer support. Their one drawback is lack of live chat and live phone support but for some people this is a moot point. Using ASO means that the Linux, LAMP, web hosting, cPanel and Softaculous.
The array of tools means greater ability to configure using off-the-shelf technology but less flexibility in the structure of the hosting technology. If you’d like to give them a try we recommend you first check out Hostcollate coupons where they carry discounts for ASO newcomers.
(Photo Credit: Gyorgi Weil / Creative Commons)