Tips and Gotchas for managing your AWS Costs

You might be funding Jeff Bezo’s trip to the moon, and you don’t even know it.

Are you using AWS as your cloud provider? I have been stung by AWS bills more than once because the AWS Cost Explorer is not user friendly by design. I suspect that it was designed to confuse us, so we could fund Jeff Bezo’s trip to the moon. But, here are a few things I have learned while running TAGGUN, to help you and other SaaS founders reduce AWS costs.

Are you funding Jeff Bezo’s trip to the moon?

🚨 Gotchas: By default, AWS Cost Explorer hides all your credits, Savings Plans and Reservations Plans usage.

If you can’t see where you are spending your money, you are likely to waste your AWS Start up Credits, Savings Plans and Reservations usage away…

Default view of AWS Cost Explore shows you nothing if you are using AWS credits.

💡 TIPS: Select Charge Type filter to show your true AWS usage

On the right panel, filter Charge Type to these three usages:

  • Reservation applied usage
  • Savings Plan Covered Usage
  • Usage
Apply Charge Type Filter
Use Charge Type to show the true AWS usage for the month!! 

Now, you can use the report to analyse how you are using AWS and reduce waste.

True AWS Usage grouped by the type of service

🚨 Gotchas: EC2 snapshots cost more when the server is patched

The EC2 snapshot charges are cheap… until you start patching your servers. EC2 snapshot is charged based on the delta of EC2 volume and snapshots. So, your snapshot costs will jump up after you patch the servers for updates.

Snapshot costs will jump up after you patch the servers for updates.

💡Tips: Monitor EC2 Snapshots regularly

In EC2, check the number of EC2 Snapshots in your account. Remove the old ones that are not in use anymore. Otherwise, you will start burning some serious cash, if the delta between your snapshots and your EC2 volume gets bigger.

EC2 Snapshots

💡 Tips: Use Lifecycle Manager and limit the retention days for your snapshots

AWS snapshot can cost up to 15% of your total AWS Bill. Of course, AWS wants to make it easy to create snapshots, but difficult to remove them.. Only recently, I discovered AWS has quietly released AWS Lifecycle Manager, which allows you to create a snapshot with a retention policy…

AWS EC2 Lifecycle Manager

💡 Tips: Use a USD based credit card to pay for your cloud bills

If your company is not based in the US, you will be paying an additional 3% for all your cloud bills like AWS and TAGGUN, that are priced in US dollars. I’d suggest applying for something like Transferwise Business Debit Card to avoid getting charged foreign exchange fees and expensive FX rate by your bank.

There are many 🚨 gotchas in AWS and AWS Billing

For example: EC2 M4 is more expensive (and slower) than the new generation M5 series. An upgrade will save you some money. If you know any other tips and gotchas, please email me and share your stories. I’d love to learn more.