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Create an Amazon Lightsail Server in 5 Minutes

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If you follow my posts (even a little,) you know I’m a big fan of quick and easy virtual private servers, such as the virtual “droplets” over at Digital Ocean. I also use other virtual server hosts such as Vultr and Linode as well. All three services do a great job of allowing you to spin up virtual servers in a matter of minutes, and do so at very reasonable prices.

In the past, I have kind of steered away from Amazon AWS, as I found their EC2 platform convoluted, a mess to navigate, and (more importantly) expensive. Not to say that using EC2 is really hard, but it is certainly more difficult than using a hosting provider like Digital Ocean. Well, Amazon must have been paying attention because their Lightsail VPS service is putting their competition on notice. And, that message is that Amazon won’t we be left behind in the instant-spin-up-VPS market.

Lightsail is Really Easy to Use

While Amazon’s AWS EC2 compute service can be cumbersome and a bit tedious to use, Lightsail is the exact opposite. In fact, it’s about as easy to create a new VPS instance with Lightsail as it is to create a new droplet with Digital Ocean (and that is pretty darn easy.)

Amazon did a really good job with the Lightsail interface to make it easy to navigate and use. Therefore, just as is the case with Digital Ocean, you can now create a fully-functional web server or computer instance in Lightsail in about 5 minutes – and, that includes the time needed to create and upload your security key and credentials. After all, security is always important. So, let’s dive in and learn how to create an Amazon Lightsail server quick, fast and in a hurry.

Getting Started

In this tutorial, we’re going to cover 3 basic areas:

  • Downloading and Installing PuTTY and creating a key;
  • Using the new PuTTY key to create an Amazon Lightsail VPS instance;
  • Starting and updating our new Amazon Lightsail VPS

Now for the steps:

PuTTY

Step 1 – Go to the PuTTY website and download the latest version of PuTTY for your operating system. After downloading PuTTY, install it on your computer.

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Step 2 – Launch PuTTYgen on your machine (be sure to open “PuTTYgen” and not one of the other PuTTY applications.)

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Step 3 – Click the “Generate” button in the PuTTY Key Generator window. Move the mouse cursor around, randomly and quickly, in the blank area near the top of the screen. This will help generate additional randomness that will make your key more secure.

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Step 4 – After the generator creates and displays the key near the top of the window, click “Save public key.” Select the folder in which you want to save the key, give the file a new name, and then click “Save.”

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Step 5 – Click the “Save private key” button. If you don’t want to protect the key with a password, click “Yes” in the warning pop-up that appears. Since I always like to protect my SSH keys with a password, I am going to click “No.”

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Step 6 – Enter a password in the “Key passphrase” field. Enter the same password again in the “Confirm passphrase” field.

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Step 7 – Click “Save private key.” Browse to the same folder in which you saved the public key. Enter a filename for the private key, and then click “Save.”

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Next, we’ll create the Lightsail VPS Instance. To continue reading, go to the next page.

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