Amazon Web Service (AWS) introduced Lightsail in late 2016 to make it easier for webmasters to affordably launch sites in the cloud. The price to host a site – run an instance – originally started out at $5/mo but is now only $3.50/mo.
The price point makes Lightsail attractive to webmasters that want to leverage the benefits of using a cloud platform without paying for managed hosting. However, the price difference comes with a significant trade-off. Lightsail is “easy-to-use” in regards to using AWS, but it’s still complex for most webmasters to set up and maintain.
Setting up WordPress on AWS Lightsail
AWS provides excellent documentation on how to setup WordPress on Amazon Lightsail. This tutorial provides the key steps to setting up a WordPress instance. There’s also a video presentation by George Ellissaios, Senior Manager of Lightsail, that walks through the steps for managing WordPress on Amazon Lightsail.
Reading the tutorial or watching the video reveals that webmasters will need a high level of technical proficiency to set up a WordPress instance properly. For example, to setup a WordPress instance, webmasters need to be familiar with using Command Line Interface (CLI) via SSH. It’s required for setting up the instance and also creating the SSL certificate. Additionally, creating the SSL certificate is a nine-step process, and requires a webmaster to manually update the certificate every 90 days.
The setup and maintenance required by Lightsail is in stark contrast to a managed hosting provider like WP Engine. For example, WP Engine creates WordPress instances with the push of a button, solely uses a Graphic User Interface (GUI) to configure the site, and provides automated maintenance, including the automated renewal of SSL certificates and daily backup snapshots.
Who should use Amazon Lightsail?
Lightsail is perfect for webmasters and web developers that are comfortable using CLI and are familiar with managing AWS services. It provides a way for technically proficient users to launch and manage WordPress sites affordably.
Webmasters that don’t have experience working with cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud will likely struggle to properly setup and maintain a WordPress instance on Lightsail.
An alternative to using AWS or a managed hosting platform is to use Cloudflare’s Worker Sites. Webmasters and web developers can host static versions of WordPress on Cloudflare without the complexity and maintenance required by Amazon’s Lightsail or the cost of managed hosting. The price is also comparable to Lightsail’s pricing.
For everyone else, managed hosting will be the most cost-effective way to host WordPress. That’s because it’s more affordable to pay a higher monthly fee for automated managed hosting than to pay someone to maintain cheap cloud computing instances.