What are the differences between Amazon EC2 and Amazon Lightsail?

Last updated: 2021-10-27

I want to use virtual servers to run my applications. What are the differences between Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Lightsail?


AWS offers Amazon EC2 and Lightsail for hosting applications. Amazon EC2 is a mix of multiple services and has its own individual features used to create a single architecture. Amazon EC2 instances are meant for small to complex architecture. Lightsail, on other hand, is an integrated product of services offered by AWS. Lightsail is better for small to medium scale workloads.

Choosing the right architecture is always based on your application's requirements. There are few points that you can use to help you decide which service will work best for your needs. The following are the main differences between Amazon EC2 and Lightsail:

  Amazon Lightsail Amazon EC2
Usage Used for simple web applications and websites, including custom code, and common CMS. Used for small scale to Enterprise applications such as HPC, big data, and analytics workloads.
Performance Used for applications with workloads ranging from small to medium. Used for small scale to higher workloads with complex architecture.
Ease Deploying applications in Lightsail can be done with few clicks.

Provides an all-in-one experience.
Deploying application in Amazon EC2 varies due to multiple factors, such as the type of application, the type of components used, and so on.

Each component has its own characteristics and features that can be modified in their respective consoles.
Administrative support Less system admin and system architect efforts are needed in Lightsail. Based on the type of environment, the administrative effort varies. Most of the services in EC2 require a thorough understanding about the components.
Network Managed by AWS. Customers can add rules to Lightsail firewall. Managed by the customer using VPC and related components.
Subnets Lightsail has no concept of private subnets. Customers can create subnets as public or private based on their application needs.
Scalability Automatic instance scalability isn't supported in Lightsail.

Instances can't be modified after launch. You must launch a new instance to change your plan.
Instances can be scaled automatically using an Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling group.

EC2 instances can be modified to a new type or to a new virtualization.
Flexibility in managing resources Minimal flexibility in managing resources such as network, hard disk, load balancer, and so on. Customers can manage all the related components based on the application demands.
Elastic volumes Not supported Supported
Resource management All resources are managed from the same dashboard. Each resource has its own console and options.
Pricing Prices are low and there is a fixed pricing model. Pricing follows the pay as you go model.
Load balancing The Lightsail load balancer is available for use with Lightsail instances. There are multiple types of load balancers available.
Monitoring Monitoring is available, but is restricted to a few options. Detailed monitoring options are available using Amazon Cloudwatch.
Backup Backups are available by using Lightsail snapshots. Backups are available as snapshots and AMIs.
Encryption Encryption is enabled by default and is managed by AWS. Customers can choose to enable or disable encryption.
Free tier The free tier is available for 3 months from the day of signing up. The free tier is available for 12 months from the day of signing up.
Support Support is provided by the AWS Support team. The scope of troubleshooting application level issues is limited. Support is provided by the AWS Support team. The scope of troubleshooting application level issues is limited.

For more information, see Amazon Lightsail or Amazon EC2.

For more information about limitations in Lightsail, see What should I consider before choosing Lightsail over Amazon EC2?

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