Launching Your First EC2 Instance

Launching Your First EC2 Instance


7 min read

Today we will cover one of the most fundamental and essential tasks in AWS :- launching and configuring an Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) instance. Amazon EC2 provides scalable computing capacity in the AWS cloud enabling you to run virtual servers on-demand. In this blog we will provide a step-by-step guide to launching your first EC2 instance including setting up a key pair and configuring SSH access.

What is Amazon EC2?

Amazon EC2 is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It allows you to launch virtual servers (instances) on which you can run applications. With EC2 you can scale your computing capacity up or down according to your needs paying only for what you use.

Key Features of Amazon EC2

  1. Scalability :- Easily scale instances up or down based on demand.

  2. Flexibility :- Choose from a variety of instance types optimized for different use cases.

  3. Security :- Control access using security groups and key pairs.

  4. Cost-Effective :- Pay only for the resources you use with various pricing models, including On-Demand, Reserved and Spot Instances.

  5. Integration :- Seamlessly integrate with other AWS services like S3, RDS and Lambda.

Step-by-Step Guide to Launching an EC2 Instance


Before launching an EC2 instance ensure you have the following :-

  • An AWS account.

  • Basic knowledge of using the AWS Management Console.

  • An SSH client (e.g. PuTTY for Windows, Terminal for macOS/Linux).

Step 1 :- Log in to the AWS Management Console

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to the AWS Management Console.

  2. Log in using your AWS credentials.

Step 2 :- Navigate to the EC2 Dashboard

  1. In the AWS Management Console search for "EC2" in the services search bar.

  2. Click on "EC2" to open the EC2 Dashboard.

Step 3 :- Launch an Instance

  1. In the EC2 Dashboard click on the "Launch Instance" button.

  2. Choose an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) :-

    • Select an AMI that suits your needs. For this example :- we'll use the "Amazon Linux 2 AMI (HVM), SSD Volume Type" which is free-tier eligible.
  3. Choose an Instance Type :-

    • Select the instance type. For this example :- we'll use the t2.micro instance type which is free-tier eligible and sufficient for basic tasks.
  4. Configure Instance Details :-

    • Click "Next : Configure Instance Details".

    • Leave most settings at their defaults for simplicity but ensure the following :-

      • Number of instances :- 1

      • Network :- Default VPC

      • Subnet :- No preference

      • Auto-assign Public IP :- Enable

    • Click "Next : Add Storage".

  5. Add Storage :-

    • The default storage configuration is usually sufficient. For the Amazon Linux 2 AMI, it will be an 8 GiB EBS volume.

    • Click "Next : Add Tags".

  6. Add Tags :-

    • (Optional) Add tags to organize your instance. For example :- add a tag with Key :- Name and Value :- MyFirstEC2Instance .

    • Click "Next : Configure Security Group".

  7. Configure Security Group :-

    • Create a new security group with the following settings :-

      • Security group name :- MyFirstEC2SecurityGroup

      • Description :- Security group for my first EC2 instance

    • Add the following inbound rules :-

      • Type :- SSH, Protocol :- TCP, Port Range :- 22, Source :- Custom,

      • Value :- (allows SSH access from any IP address, use cautiously)

    • Click "Review and Launch".

Step 4 :- Create a Key Pair

  1. In the "Review Instance Launch" screen click "Launch".

  2. Create a new key pair :-

    • Choose "Create a new key pair".

    • Key pair name :- MyFirstEC2KeyPair

    • Click "Download Key Pair" to download the .pem file. Save this file securely as it is used to access your instance via SSH.

  3. Click "Launch Instances".

Step 5 :- Accessing Your EC2 Instance via SSH

For macOS/Linux Users :-

  1. Open Terminal.

  2. Navigate to the directory where you saved the .pem file.

  3. Change the permissions of the key file to be read-only by the owner :-

     chmod 400 MyFirstEC2KeyPair.pem
  4. Connect to the instance using the public DNS name or IP address (found in the EC2 Dashboard under "Instances") :-

     ssh -i "MyFirstEC2KeyPair.pem" ec2-user@your-instance-public-dns

For Windows Users (using PuTTY) :-

  1. Download and install PuTTY and PuTTYgen if you haven't already.

  2. Convert the .pem file to a .ppk file using PuTTYgen :-

    • Open PuTTYgen.

    • Click "Load" and select your .pem file.

    • Click "Save private key" and save the .ppk file.

  3. Open PuTTY and configure the session :-

    • In the "Host Name" field enter ec2-user@your-instance-public-dns.

    • Under "Connection" > "SSH" > "Auth" browse and select your .ppk file.

    • Click "Open" to start the session.

Step 6 :- Post-Launch Configuration

Once you have accessed your EC2 instance you can perform various configuration tasks such as updating the instance, installing software or configuring services.

Example :- Updating and Installing Apache Web Server

  1. Update the instance :-

     sudo yum update -y
  2. Install Apache web server :-

     sudo yum install -y httpd
  3. Start the Apache service :-

     sudo systemctl start httpd
  4. Enable Apache to start on boot :-

     sudo systemctl enable httpd

Now you can access your web server by entering your instance's public IP address in a web browser. You should see the Apache test page.

Best Practices for EC2 Instances

  1. Use Key Pairs Securely :- Ensure that your private key file is stored securely and not shared.

  2. Configure Security Groups Carefully :- Restrict inbound traffic to only necessary IP addresses and ports.

  3. Regularly Update Your Instances :- Keep your instances updated with the latest security patches and updates.

  4. Monitor Your Instances :- Use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor instance performance and health.

  5. Back Up Your Data :- Regularly back up your data using Amazon EBS snapshots or other backup solutions.

  6. Use IAM Roles :- Assign IAM roles to your instances to manage permissions securely without using hardcoded credentials.

Real-World Example :- Hosting a Simple Web Application

Suppose you want to host a simple web application on an EC2 instance. Here's a quick example of how you can set up a basic web server :-

Step 1 :- Launch an EC2 Instance

Follow the steps outlined above to launch an EC2 instance.

Step 2 :- Configure the Web Server

  1. SSH into your EC2 instance using the key pair.

  2. Update the instance :-

     sudo yum update -y
  3. Install Apache web server :-

     sudo yum install -y httpd
  4. Start the Apache service :-

     sudo systemctl start httpd
  5. Enable Apache to start on boot :-

     sudo systemctl enable httpd

Step 3 :- Deploy Your Web Application

  1. Create a sample HTML file :-

     echo "<html><h1>Welcome to My First EC2 Instance!</h1></html>" | sudo tee /var/www/html/index.html
  2. Verify that Apache is serving the content :-

    • Open your web browser and enter your instance's public IP address.

    • You should see the message "Welcome to My First EC2 Instance!".

Step 4 :- Secure Your Instance

  1. Configure the security group to restrict access :-

    • Allow HTTP (port 80) from anywhere to serve web traffic.

    • Restrict SSH access (port 22) to only your IP address.

  2. Enable SSL/TLS for secure connections :-

    • Install mod_ssl :-

        sudo yum install -y mod_ssl
    • Obtain and install an SSL certificate.


Launching and configuring an EC2 instance is a fundamental skill for working with AWS. In this blog post we provided a step-by-step guide to launching your first EC2 instance including setting up a key pair and configuring SSH access. We also demonstrated how to set up a basic web server on your EC2 instance.

By following these steps and best practices you can securely and efficiently manage your EC2 instances whether for development, testing or production environments. Continue exploring the various features and capabilities of EC2 to make the most of your AWS experience.

Stay tuned for more insights and best practices in our upcoming blog posts.

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Happy Cloud Computing!!!

Happy Reading!!!

Sudha Yadav