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I've recently made a new Ubuntu EBS image on Amazon EC2 and since what I am running isn't of the utmost importance, have decided to run it as a spot instance to take advantage of the lower pricing. What I have come to notice though is that from the time you request the instance to the time it actually starts can be quite lengthy. In the past I've seen it start in a few minutes, but recently it seems to take forever. By forever, I mean earlier today I waited over an hour and then gave up and started a normal instance, and just now I've again been waiting over 30 minutes. The entire time it just sits with a status of "Open", which indicates it hasn't even accepted the spot request.

Even when I'm setting my bid price 50% higher than the current running price history, it still won't start up right away. Does anyone know if this is intended, or am I just missing out on something? Due to this and a variety of other reasons, I'm steadily losing faith in AWS.

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I think this is just to be expected; spot priced instances are instantiated on a supply and demand basis depending on your bid, so if there is a lot of demand your startup time is likely to increase.

In my experience, if you bid just below the price for an on-demand instance, you'll get your running instance within 20 minutes or so, but 30 minutes doesn't sound outside the normal range for startup times. If you want an instance up as fast as possible, you're always better off using an on-demand instance.

Maybe you could post another question detailing the other reasons you're losing faith in AWS; it's worked great for my company for the past 3 or 4 years.

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Fair enough. It did eventually start (over an hour after requesting it), it just seems odd that it would take so long when your max price is 50% higher than the current running price. –  James Jul 13 '10 at 3:35
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In the past I've seen it start in a few minutes, but recently it seems to take forever.

One of the things to keep in mind with Amazon's cloud especially is that their whole concept got started because Amazon's core shopping business is so seasonal. They need way more server resources to handle their Christmas rush than they do the rest of the year, and their cloud offering came out of thinking about ways to monetize those resources the rest of the time.

Of course, it's grown way beyond that since then. However, Amazon isn't the only business doing peak load for the Christmas shopping season. I'm hardly surprised to see it run a little slower over the next month or so.

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