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I want to know if EC2 is truly "pay only what you use". Basically: If I have 0 visits in a month will I pay anything?

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closed as off topic by Mark Henderson Jan 13 '12 at 4:39

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Pricing on EC2 is fairly complex and goes far beyond "visits".

You should study the EC2 pricing documentation carefully and post questions if you don't understand any particular aspect of it:

EC2 Pricing

Some of the charges can be esoteric, like Elastic IP Address, which is free if you are using it (assigned to an instance) but about $7/month if you are not using it.

Other AWS services (e.g., S3, CloudFront, SQS, SES, Route53, ELB, SimpleDB, RDS, ElastiCache, EMR, SNS, Direct Connect, ) have their own pricing pages, so make sure you understand the prices of each service you are using.

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There are services which bill per time used, some per requests and some per size, and/or mix of them. i.e. load balancer service can bill per requests: per 10000 GET's for example but EC2 is per time running.

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EC2 is not billed on a "per visit" basis. It's billed based on how much time your EC2 instance is running. If you run it for a minute, you get billed for a minute (however, they round billing to the nearest hour, so if you actually launch an instance for a "minute" and then shut it down, you will be billed for one full hour). If you run it for a month, you get billed for a month.

Needless to say, it'll be hard for you to serve any visitors if your server isn't running, so you'll likely want to look into per-month costs for running whatever instance type you'll need.

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You get billed for data usage even if your instance is off dont you? – Silverfire Sep 15 '11 at 7:16
How are your customers going to transfer any data if your server is off? Unless you're talking about transfers direct out of S3, in which case yes, they'd theoretically be able to retrieve static content out of S3. – EEAA Sep 15 '11 at 7:17
@Silverfire depends on the type; EBS and S3 are both billed per gig used as well as transfer, while you won't be billed for ephemeral volumes attached to a stopped EC2 instance. In fact, there are no storage costs attached to ephemeral storage at all. – Michael Lowman Sep 15 '11 at 7:23

This should tell you everything you need to know about EC2's fixed and variable costs for your situation:

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