On Thursday we looked at pricing of EC2. Today, let’s pull the trigger on it!

This will be picture heavy today. While it seems like there are a lot of steps, this should go super quick. From start to launch in around 10 minutes or so. In this case I’m just being a bit more verbose than normal so you can see every step of the process.

You start by going to https://aws.amazon.com. Once there, click sign up. Simple enough.

Here’s where I’m going to tell you to not log in with your normal Amazon credentials! There was a high-profile attack on someone’s twitter handle a few months back that included a social engineering of Amazon customer service. Customer service wound up resetting someone’s shopping account’s password on their way to p0wning his account. The upshot is it’ll be safer to use a new account that’s only used for AWS. In this case I created a role account on my domain and created a new user at Amazon.

Signing up is easy. There’s one quirk: Amazon will call you up to verify your phone number. No worries though.

During sign up, you’ll be asked for your support plan. Go with the free version; we’re trying to stay low budget here.

Another thing you’ll want to do if you can is sign up for the multi-factor authentication. Amazon calls it simply MFA.

You’ll want to have some virtual token on your phone. This will sync up with Amazon and you’ll have your phone with your virtual token! Some examples are Google Authenticator which runs on basically anything under the sun or something like HDE OTP, which is what I use on my iPhone, or Authenticator on a Windows Phone. If you do a search for “One time password [platform name]” chances are you’ll find one since this is an internet standard.

In the end though, the multi-factor authentication is optional. If you don’t set it up, you’ll just log on with your password. With MFA turned on, even if someone got your password they wouldn’t be able to log onto Amazon AWS unless they also had your phone.

Once you have it set up you have to spin up an EC2 instance. Choose EC2 from the services menu.

Before launching, make sure you’re in the right region. In my case I want to launch an instance in Oregon, which is the data center closest to me. Hit the drop-down and select a region to launch in.

Then: “Launch Instance!”

You’ll have to choose the machine image you’ll start with. In this case I’ll start with the simplest image: the Amazon Linux image. Since this is a micro instance with less than a gig of memory, we’ll save as much of it as we can by launching a 32-bit instance.

Next: the instance type. We want to be cheap and take advantage of the free tier.

You’ll want to click “Next” in each of these to be able to review and modify the settings so don’t jump directly to “Review and Launch” yet.


“Configure Instance” step can be left with the defaults, so next again.

Let’s add 8GB of storage to this machine. Then next.

For the tags, this is just something for your own reference in this case. Call it “Blog Server” or something for the name. You can always change it later. For some really advanced usages of EC2 the tags can be handy, but for us, this isn’t important.

Lastly we have the security group. This sets what of the server is exposed to the internet.

It’ll start with just “SSH” included, but we want this to be a web server so let’s add a couple of rules to the default: HTTP and HTTPS.

Now, let’s review and launch!

Yes, the server (I called mine utility server) is open to the world. This is expected — we want to have an internet web server! :-D

When we hit launch, we’ll need to make an SSH key. Since this is a new account, let’s create a new key pair.

Hit download and put your key someplace safe. This is the only time you’ll get to download the key! Tomorrow I’ll get into how the SSH thing works, right now, just download it. It’ll be called something like “keyname.pem”. If it has a “.txt” at the end of the filename, you might as well rename it now to drop the “.txt” from the end since it’s not needed and might confuse the tools we’ll use later.

Congrats! You now have a server running on the internet!

Tomorrow, we’ll get into how to connect to the server and installing some software.