Last Updated: 16 December 2018
By Maynard Paton

Why I Use AWS

You already know Sendy uses Amazon SES to send 10,000 emails for just $1.

But why is my Sendy software running on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server?

It boils down to three reasons:

  • It’s convenient;
  • It’s cheap, and;
  • It works really well.

Indeed, given Sendy was developed specifically to use AWS's SES service, I feel it makes sense to use an AWS server to host my Sendy installation as well.

I recommend you run your Sendy on AWS, too.

I know, AWS can be intimidating for non-techies such as you and me

I mean, just look at this opening menu screen:

I recall being totally overwhelmed by what was on offer. 

Beanstalk, Snowball, Polly, Artifact? No, I have no idea about what those mean either. 

But trust me. Once you have Sendy up and running, you do start to find your way around AWS and discover you mostly use only the following services:

  • Simple Email Service (SES): for sending 10,000 emails for just $1;
  • EC2: to manage your server and storage;
  • Simple Notification Service (SNS): for capturing email notifications, such as bounces unsubscribes and opens, and
  • Billing: for monitoring your costs. 

My advice

Before I continue, you can run Sendy on what are called ‘shared hosts’ — such as 1and1, Tsohost, 123-reg, Hostinger, namecheap and GoDaddy. 

Sendy is much easier to install on a shared host, but my advice here is simple: don’t bother.

The inherent drawback with shared hosts is that their servers are used by multiple customers.

As such, your share of the available processing power can be limited, and sadly that processing power is typically unable to transfer large numbers of emails efficiently to Amazon SES for sending. 

Shared hosts could work with mailing lists of a few hundred names, but you are likely to incur timeouts and other issues if your mailing list runs into the thousands.   

However, with AWS you have full control of your own powerful server. Everything works much faster, and you will not waste time worrying about slow rates of sending. 

I do not feel as if I am being ripped off

As I say, Sendy has been developed to use AWS's SES and SNS services, so I feel it makes sense to use an AWS server to host your Sendy installation, too.

That said, there are other server options available. In particular, DigitalOcean and Linode are two popular alternatives and they may even be cheaper than AWS.

Nonetheless, I use AWS, and I certainly do not feel as if I am being ripped off. What’s more, I have found AWS very convenient.

For one thing, the Sendy documentation assumes you use an AWS server. You may well be thankful for that if you ever need some assistance from Sendy support

Furthermore, AWS offers a FREE year of server and storage usage*. 

So if you get Sendy up and running on AWS, but then feel the whole thing is not for you, you can cancel your AWS account within twelve months and escape paying any server and storage charges*. 

You also receive a discount on your email sending costs by using an AWS server.

Plus, all of your server, storage and email billing is just in one place… which I have to admit has become very handy.

It’s cheap

I have documented the relevant AWS charges you are likely to incur in full on my What AWS Costs page, so you can get some idea of what costs are involved. 

I also publish my monthly AWS outgoings, so you can see what a real-life small-time blogger is actually paying! (Hint: not very much). 

When my FREE twelve months of server and storage costs* ends, I estimate my annualised AWS charge will run to approximately £87. But I have opted for a slightly more expensive set-up than is perhaps needed. I reckon your annualised charge could be around £69 .

It works

Everything on AWS has worked. I can honestly say there has not been any problems.

I was particularly impressed with this…

…while a Fiverr tech ace was installing Sendy for me, AWS rang out of the blue to double-check whether he had my permission to use my server. 

Clearly AWS are on top of security matters, even for small customers such as me.

Be aware that you have to abide by the AWS SES Best Practice Guide for your WordPress newsletters. 

Basically, do not send spam — emails that people did not ask for — and do not send anything likely to offend.

You also should keep your ‘bounce rate’ below 5% and your ‘complaint rate’ below 0.1% to keep AWS happy. 

AWS provides a dashboard to warn you if your ‘sender reputation’ is causing some concern. I am looking good right now: 

(The 0.01% bounce and complaint notifications were deliberate tests to check my Sendy installation was working!)

20-minute maintenance

Every few weeks I update the software on my AWS server and give it a reboot. Initially this was a somewhat scary task — what if I break my Sendy installation?! — but everything has so far worked out fine.

I have outlined how I update my server here. It is generally a 20-minute job, if that.

If you have any questions or comments about this page, please let me know so I can keep this website as helpful as possible.

Happy blogging!

Maynard Paton

(* Please read What AWS Costs for further details about the AWS’s FREE tier)

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