Some of you might know but most of you probably don’t, Amazon offers everybody that wants to test their services a free VPS for a year. However, it may be a bit of a challenge to navigate through their signup pages so here’s a short walk through on how to do it swiftly and with ease.What you need to prepare:
- a credit card, it will not be billed as the VPS is free but they require you to provide one
- a telephone number – they will call to verify your identity (call is automated not human)
- 5-15 minutes of your time depending on how fast you are in filling up forms and following instructions.
What’s in it for you:
- 1Gb of RAM
- 30Gb Hdd (you’ll have around 11Gb free after the OS is installed)
- 1 virtual processor at 2.49Ghz
- OS: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard.
- 1GB monthly free traffic (if you go over they will charge you $0.12 per 1Gb which is almost free as well)
As you can see, it’s not much but it’s pretty decent and what’s important is that it’s free for a year and it will suffice for any day-to-day post scheduling.If you want to go ahead and get your own server like the one above, just go over to Amazon at:
You must reply to see links
. You will see this server being referred to as AWS account (it means Amazon Web Services account).There would be more information on their page about the free plan, you can go ahead and read that or if you opt to simply go on your way and continue, just click the yellow “Create a Free Account” button as seen below:Next, you will be taken to the signup page for the AWS service, you can proceed and create a new account by selecting “I am a new user” and entering your email like this:After filling out the required information, click the yellow “Sign in using our secure server” button and you will be taken to another form to complete the signup process.Go ahead and fill out these too with your name, email as before and select a new password. After you’re done click the “Create account” button and you will be redirected to a page that will ask for your details (the AWS console signup page; refer to image below). You will need to complete this form in order to proceed to the next step. You can choose between a Company or a Personal account, I went for a Personal one.Fill everything out accurately, be sure to provide your real name and address as you will also have to enter your credit card information later and if they don’t match, you might get denied and all your previous efforts would amount to nothing. Hence, use your Full Name, company (if any), select your country, enter address, city, state, postal code, phone number, the security code and finally tick the AWS customer agreement check box. When you are all set, click the Create Account and Continue button. You will then be redirected to the Payment Information page where you need to enter your credit card details:Type in your credit card number and select the expiration date. Enter your name as before, either leave the address that you already entered (as I did, just blurred it though) or select a new one, then press “Continue”. You will be redirected to the Identity verification step:
In this part of the signup process, they will verify that you are who you say you are, so you will get an automated call from Amazon and you will need to enter the provided PIN number in order to proceed. Make sure again that you entered your phone number correctly and have your telephone close by before you click the “Call me now” yellow button.You should immediately receive a call from Amazon, they will also display a PIN number on your computer screen you will need to enter that PIN number on your telephone keypad or just say it audibly one digit at a time. If it was successful, you will receive a message on your screen stating that your identity verification is complete:Now just click the “Continue to select your Support Plan” button. You will need to select the support plan for your VPS:
This one should be quite simple, if Basic (Free) is already selected leave it as it is. If something else is selected, then choose Basic (Free) then click the ‘Continue’ button and you finally have your Amazon Web Services account:Cheers! You now have an AWS account. And the next thing you need to do is set up your Windows VPS. To do that, just click on the yellow “Sign in to the Console”At this point, you might be prompted to re-enter your AWS password, the one you provided in the signup process. Just go on and enter the required information and re-login to the AWS management console. Don’t mind all the other services Amazon is providing here; there are a lot of them and someone that is new to this would easily get confused. The management console would look something like this:Again, pay no attention to the other items, just focus and click on “EC2 – Virtual Servers in the Cloud” (where the red arrow points to). You will then be taken to another screen that yet again presents overwhelming information; Amazon sure is having fun with all these ? Just click the blue “Launch Instance” button and you will be redirected to a page where you will need to choose what operating system to install on your VPS:Here, you will see several choices of operating systems and if you are doing this in order to use it with other software at this point you can choose either Linux or Windows. However, for the sole purpose of using the VPS for JARVEE, you need to select “Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Base”.Note: You need to scroll down, as there are numerous items in the list provided by Amazon, until you get to “Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Base”, it also has to say “Free tier eligible” in the left corner. In order to proceed, click the blue “Select” button that’s located to the right of the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Base item.Then, you will need to go through a couple more steps in order to select the specs of your new VPS. In order to keep it free, always select the one that has the green “Free tier eligible” text:It should be selected by default, if not, select ‘General purpose t2 micro’ which is the only one that is free. Now, you can either go through the rest of the steps to see what each item offers (not really necessary unless you know what you are doing) or jump to the end by clicking the blue “Review and Launch” button:If you’ve hit the Review and Launch button you should be at step 7, Review instance launch, which is basically just Amazon giving out additional information about the server, you can skip everything and click the blue “Launch” button at the bottom right corner, which I suggest you do.Going forward, you will be prompted to select a new key pair or create one. This is very important as you will use this file in order to get the password for your VPS, so make sure you save it somewhere safe. It will also be useful in case you lose your password and need to login to your VPS.Since you just created a new account, you won’t have one yet, so select “Create a new key pair” from the drop down box and assign a name for it.Once you have entered the name for your key pair, click on “Download Key Pair” and your browser should prompt you to download a new file to your computer; it will be named as the name you’ve given above, without spaces and with a .pem extension. We can’t stress this enough, save it somewhere on your computer and keep it safe for future use.As mentioned, this is a very important step, as without this file you won’t be able to connect to your VPS, so if your browser does not prompt you to download this file make sure you have disabled any plugin that might block it. Also, choose to save the file on your computer, not open it.After this, the blue “Launch instances” button would be activated, so click it and as soon as the setup time is done, you should receive a message that your new instance is launching:You may also notice a “Get notified of estimated charges” notification on this screen which you can later set-up so you get notified if your VPS gets over the free limits.Next, click on the blue button and you will be brought back to the AWS console where your newly created VPS instance will be listed, it should look something like this:You will see your VPS with the status of running. Take note of the Connect button above it, click that and another window should appear with instructions on how to connect to your VPS. It looks like this: Yes, I hear and feel you on this one, I know it’s been a long signup but hang in there and we’re almost done so breathe in and breathe out, look at the bright side, you only have to do this once for an entire year of free VPS, so that’s a tad of good news there ?Moving on, click on “Download Remote Desktop File” and save that file somewhere in your computer, it’s what you will use to connect to your VPS. Next, you will need a password so click the Get Password button. Now is the time that you will need to provide the Key Pair that you created and downloaded earlier in order to decrypt your password:You can either upload your .pem file or copy its content in the designated box and click the ‘Decrypt Password’ button. Shortly after that, you should see your VPS password, record it somewhere and keep it safe; you’ll use that every time you connect to your VPS.Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for…You’re done! Now, you have a free Windows VPS that will be up and running for the whole year.You have your .rdp file which you will be using to connect to your VPS and you have your password. In case you used a VPS before you should very well know how to proceed. For the new kids on the block, please keep on reading.Also I just want to re-iterate, this is just a one-time setup process, from here on, you have your VPS ready and running at all times, all you need to do is connect to it.
- How to connect to your VPS using remote desktop
Connecting to your newly created VPS through remote desktop is rather simple, if you don’t have the .rdp file that you previously downloaded, you would need to create your connection manually and enter the IP of your VPS. If this is not the case though, just double click the .rdp file, the name should be something like the-ip-of-the-vps.rdp (something like 192.168.1.1.rdp …just an example). When you access it for the first time (by double clicking), you would get a pop up similar to the image below:Be sure to check the “Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer” checkbox (to skip doing this each time you connect) and click the “Connect” button. You will then arrive to the login screen where you need to enter your password:Enter your password in the designated area. Also, check the “Remember my credentials” checkbox underneath so you don’t need to enter your password every time. Next, hit the ‘OK’ button. Again, since this is the first time you’ve done this, an extra window will appear:Simply tick the “Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer” checkbox then click ‘Yes’ to avoid this dialog box next time you connect.Right after you click ‘Yes’, a connection will be established which will bring you to your VPS, your new Windows VPS machine and can do anything you want with it. Just use it as you would use any other computer, you can do stuff such as downloading and installing programs and the likes. It will run 24/7 and even when you are not connected to it.
- How to connect to your VPS using remote desktop on Mac OS X
For MAC users, things would be a bit different. However, if you followed the above tutorial, you will have your .rdp file ready which you will use to connect to the windows VPS, so you’re half way done.To connect to your VPS through your machine, you first need to install a remote desktop connection client. On this guide, we installed Microsoft Remote Desktop which a free app (you can find it in the App Store) and rather user friendly, it will look like this:When you’re done with the installation, you need to create your connection. Be sure to have your .rdp file handy so you can just import the file, this will save you some time as opposed to manually setting up the connectionIf you don’t have the .rdp file ready, you can create your connection, by entering the IP of your VPS, the user name and password as shown below:
- PC Name – is where you enter the IP of your VPS
- User name – is the user name for your VPS; “Administrator” is the user name by default unless you changed it to something else
- Password – is the password you previously decrypted when setting up your VPS
Since we are on this screen, let’s make a few more tweaks too. If you imported the .rdp file, edit the imported connection and make sure you add the password (so you need not to type it whenever you connect) and select a resolution that works best on your screen. Don’t forget to save your settings once you’re done.When everything is set up, just double click on your newly created connection and this should connect you to your VPS.
- How to use your local drives in remote connections (or how to copy data from your PC to the VPS)
Depending on what you want to setup on your VPS you might find the need of using one of your local drives in remote desktop connections. This will help move data from your computer to the VPS like installers, folders with posts or the entire JARVEE folder if you previously had it running on your computer. It’s not a hard task but most are not aware of it since it’s a lesser known feature.Let’s begin:
- Right click on your Amazon VPS .rdp file and select edit
And it would launch the Remote Connection window, something like the image below:
- Next, click on Local Resources tab and at the bottom under ‘Local devices and resources’, click the More…
- Then, click on the “+” sign beside Drives and all your local drives will show up.
- You can either select a few to make them available when you connect to your VPS or just select them all. Note that, your drives are available on the VPS only when you are connected and only one person can connect at a time so your data is completely safe.
- After selecting one or more drives, click on OK and this will bring you back to the Local Resources tab. You can now proceed to the General tab where you can save the changes you made to the remote connection.
- Then, you can connect as you would normally do and you will notice in ‘My Computer’ (on your VPS) that you also have access to your local drives when you’re connected to your VPS.
TIP: Should you want to move JARVEE to your VPS, you will find the files in: c:\Users\yourname\AppData\Roaming\Jarvee\ – where ‘yourname’ is the user name you are using on your computer.
- How to use your local drives in remote connections (or how to copy data from your Mac OS X to the VPS)
If you are on Mac and you want to share files between your machine and your new VPS, you can follow these few simple steps:
- To start, open the Microsoft Remote Desktop application that you previously installed. You will see your previously created connection. Right-click on your connection and choose Edit.
- Or you can select your VPS connection and click on the Edit button in the menu. The Edit window will appear with the 3 tabs: General, Session and Redirection.
- Go to the Redirection tab and from there, click on the “+” button and you should be able to add a new local folder to your VPS. You just have to give it a name and select the target folder by entering the Path in the corresponding field (or simply choose Browse and navigate to the folder).
- If you did the steps correctly, you should be able to see your shared folder on your VPS.
- You may exit the Edit window and connect to your VPS. On your VPS, open the File Explorer and, in the Devices and Drivers section, you should see the selected folder form your Mac machine.
TIP: You just have to repeat these steps for all the folders you need for your work and you should be good to go.