Comparison of Amazon Lightsail and EC2

AWS launched Amazon Lightsail in late 2016. It is a virtual private server offering based on AWS infrastructure and consolidates all the cloud services AWS has to offer into a single platform. The main goal behind having Lightsail is Simplicity and ease of use. Lightsail makes it easier for individuals and businesses of all sizes to get started and launch services fairly quick. Amazon Lightsail also has a much simplified pricing structure. The true competitors of Amazon Lightsail are all the VPS service providers in the market. However, in this blog, we will discuss some of the key differences between Amazon EC2 and Amazon Lightsail and explore Lightsail competition in another blog.


Amazon Lightsail interfaces the user to only limited features in terms of Instance management, networking, storage and snapshots. When you create an instance, you choose the instance location, select a platform, select whether you want a bare metal OS or have some pre-configured application running on the OS, choose an instance plan, number of instances and click create. When the instance is launched you can attach static IPs, create hosted zones, create load balancers, attach disks and take snapshots. With instance types you can only choose from T2 class instance types which have burstable performance.

On the other hand, Amazon EC2 interfaces you with a wide variety of features which can be too overwhelming and complicated for new users. Every option and feature is configurable. You can choose from a wide classes of instance types, networking options, storage options, security options and many more.

Ease of Use

Amazon Lightsail is designed to be simple and easy to use. Only a subset of features are exposed on the console. These options are good for environments that do not require heavy customizations or custom environments. On the other hand, Amazon EC2 exposes all the possible options to the user which means that some knowledge of AWS is required in order to properly configure and setup and EC2 instance. With Lightsail it takes only a couple of minutes to spin up an instance, with EC2 it can take much more time in order to configure the environment.

This is how AWS Lightsail console looks like:


This is how AWS EC2 console looks like



Amazon Lightsail makes it easier to deploy public website within a very short duration. With Amazon EC2 a user can stop an instance to save money and he doesn’t get charged for the stopped instance but with Lightsail the user will be charged for instances that are in the stopped state. In order to save money in Lightsail, the user has to delete the Lightsail instance. Similarly, the user will also have to pay for the static IP that was created in Lightsail.

In Amazon Lightsail, each account is limited to 20 Lightsail instances, five static IPs and upto three DNS zones. These limitation will not affect smaller businesses but for larger enterprises this is a show stopper. In such cases, they prefer to go with Amazon EC2 instead of Amazon Lightsail. Similarly, database migration operation from Lightsail are very complex and time consuming.


Amazon Lightsail has a Fixed pricing model with sufficient data transfer limits which will ensure that your monthly costs are fairly predictable. On the other hand, Amazon EC2 has a variable pricing model and cost may vary significantly when you enable other AWS services or your data transfer grows significantly.

Amazon Lightsail pricing is comparable to that of EC2 in the essence that Lightsail is built on the same services offered by EC2. Individuals have many options to save money with EC2. They can write scripts which can turn idle instance off and turn them on when needed to save cost. This can be achieved with no extra computational complexity and completed very quickly. On the other hand Lightsail instances would be a better choice when the application needs to run consistently for longer durations.

Amazon Lightsail pricing packages are offered at a fixed monthly cost of $5, $10, $20, $40 and $80. The bare minimum $5 package has 512 MB of RAM, 1vCPU, 20 GB of SSD storage and 1TB data transfer limit. This package is comparable to the EC2 t2.nano instance which is billed at $4.25 per month. The latter cost does not include SSD or data transfer costs.

Similarly, the $80 per month Lightsail package is roughly equivalent to the t2.large EC2 instance, which costs $67.93 per month. When an 80 GB of SSD storage is attached to the t2.large EC2 instance the monthly cost comes up to be $72.93 and still it does not include the data transfer costs. However, with EC2 one can always reduce the disk capacity to save cost. Reducing the size of the disk is not an option with Amazon Lightsail.

Transfer costs out to the public internet plays the most important when differentiating EC2 and Lightsail. All the Lightsail packages include a data transfer allowance to the public internet which ranges from of 1 TB to 6 TB per month. With EC2, the transfer costs are much different. The approach costs $0.09 per GB after the first GB. For example, assuming 5TB of data is to be sent out to the internet, a Lightsail instance with an $80 package will have this covered. However, on the other hand an EC2 instance will costs around $527.38 for a t2.large-based EC2 approach ($460.71 additional transfer charges).


There are a lot of factors that come into play when you are deciding whether you want to go with EC2 or Lightsail. If you are a new user with no prior AWS knowledge, want to setup your application on quickly, want to keep monthly cost predictable and keep management overhead to a minimum, Amazon Lightsail is the best option. With this option, your monthly cost is fixed as long as you do not cross the monthly data transfer limits assigned to your subscribed monthly plan.

On the other hand, if you are familiar with AWS services, have good AWS knowledge, want to have flexibility in managing application, want application to be highly scalable, go with AWS EC2. You will have advanced features and functionality that you can use to setup a highly customized environment for your application.

We encourage our readers to try out Amazon Lightsail and keep an eye out for more Amazon Lightsail related blogs from us.


Moiz Arif

Bluestack IT Solutions