How to get your free* AWS account & spin up your first VM

By | May 6, 2016

I’m currently playing around with AWS. I’m watching the really good Pluralsight video series from Elias Khnaser on it. In it he walks you through the process of signing up for the free account (asterisks on free because depending on what you choose you CAN get charged and sometimes it’s not clear what the free option is). I screen-capped the process so here it is!

  1. Go to !
  2. Click on one of the several buttons there J

  3. If you are an existing Amazon user, you can use your existing creds. If not (seriously? You don’t have an amazon account????), you create a new one:
  4. You’ll then have them call your phone to verify that you are real, pick your support plan, then you get an email saying that your AWS account is active and ready!

Here’s how to set up a VM in your new free* environment and how not to get charged J

  1. Go to your AWS Management Console
  2. In the management console, you’ll see a LOT of options, I’m going to go through a few here:

  3. Creating VMs. Click on “EC2”:

  4. From here you’ll see the VMs you are running in the current region and the status of that regions Availability Zones:

  5. So let’s make a VM! Click “Launch Instance”:

  6. Next you’ll see the list of available servers you can provision. Guess which ones are free? You can also click the “Free tier only” checkbox on the left so that you don’t accidentally start getting charged. Browse the selection as it’s pretty big:

  7. Once you’ve selected your Amazon Machine Image (AMI), the next section will allow you to pick the size. Again if you don’t pick the free option you will be charged:

  8. We’re going to “Configure Instance Details” instead of “Review and Launch” so that we can see the details of the VM we’re going to provision:

  9. Here you can add tags to suit your needs (up to 10 max… which kinda of stinks depending on how big your environment is):

  10. The Configure Security Group step opens up SSH or RDP depending on what OS you are using & you can either create a new security group to establish policy for this VM, or use an existing security group if you already have a VM with the exact same security policy that you want to use for this VM:

  11. Review for accuracy, then “Launch”:

  12. You will now be prompted to create a key pair, or use an existing one. This key pair is a public/private pair that will allow you to securely connect to your new VM. DO NOT LOSE THIS KEYPAIR. I’m going to create a new one called “Mistwire”, download it, then launch my instance. When you click “Download Key Pair” you will download a file with the name you used (in this instance Mistwire.pem). This *.pem file will be used when logging into your new VM.

  13. It takes a minute for the VM to spin up, but it’ll be ready soon:

  14. In the instances panel, you’ll see your new server spinning up (this one is “MistwireTest”) along with it’s public DNS record and external IP address:

  15. Here is where you will use the *.pem file. Right click on the VM, choose “Get Windows Password”:

  16. You’re going to get a pop-up window. Here is where you will cut/paste the contents of the *.pem key pair file:

  17. Click “Decrypt Password” and you’ll have all the info you’ll need to RDP into your new VM:

  18. Copy DNS & Password info, open your session manager of choice (I use MobaXterm), and create a new RDP session:

  19. And you’re in:

That’s it for now. Next I’ll be playing with networking, load balancing and storage… if it’s not too expensive J

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