Leveraging RDS to improve performance in the AWS Free Tier

Amazon-RDS[1]Six months ago, I created a Free tier account and got access to a t2.micro instance at no cost (for a year). My plan was to port my old blog over from Blogger (check), freshen up on my Linux skills (check), and to dip my toe into Lambda and DynamoDB waters (check and check).

errorestablishingadatabaseconnection-180x180[1]As the name implies – a micro instance is SMALL (1 vCPU, 1 GiB RAM). Naturally, a micro instance isn’t the most robust1. I was constantly having Apache crash, or getting the dreaded WordPress database connection error.

Fortunately, the Free tier also comes with 750 hours of RDS. So, following the instructions Pascal Alma’s website, I proceeded to move my WordPress DB instance from EC2 to RDS.

The move was straight forward…. with a few hiccups:

  1. I originally planned to use the AWS Database Migration Service, but had a heck of a time getting the endpoints to connect. After 20 minutes of fooling around, I gave up on DMS and instead used the export/import instructions in Mr Alma’s website.
  2. Security, Security, Security – make sure that you allow communication between your EC2 and RDS servers. I have my EC2 instances in one security group and my RDS instance in another, so I needed to alter the security group inbound rules to allow communication between the server (you’ll need this to both move the data and for ongoing operations).2

A few hours later (and honestly what should have taken 30 mins), I was running my blog against the MySQL database instance in RDS.

My only concern is cost; this blog is a hobby and I not looking forward to paying $100 a year for two t2.micro instances (webserver and DB). Maybe I’ll move the web server to a nano instance… food for thought.


  1. But perfect for a “servers as cows” approach for web and app servers.
  2. Use this command to check that your EC2 instance can talk to your RDS instance: “nc -zv your_RDS-public_adrdress 3306″.

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