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Vishal Raj
Vishal Raj

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Using AWS to host a static website

This might be just one of the articles in already existing plethora of similar articles, teaching how to host a static website using any cloud provider services. However, I will try to make it different, by using simpler language, and simple examples. If this make sense, please continue reading…

Why host a static website?

Even before we begin, the first question that rings is, in the modern era of Web 3.0, why would somebody want a static site? Its just plain useless, isn’t it? Well may be or maybe not. Not everyone in the world is super techie, but having a website might be pretty cool for some one who just wants to share their wonderful trip photographs with friends, family, neighbors, colleagues. How about having a simple blog? What about small retailers who just wants to showcase their products in order to attract the customer to the brick-and-mortar shop? And there can be numerous other use cases where a simple static site can make sense. If you still agree with me, please continue reading.

So, why use so much of technicalities to host just a simple static site? Well I would say the initial setup is only a one time job and further will require little to no maintenance. Since we are focussing on AWS, here is the list of service that we will be utilizing to fulfil our purpose

The diagram below coarsely represent the components above and how the relate to each other.

AWS components


Before we proceed ahead, we have two pre-requisites.

  1. A registered domain name. If you just want to experiment, provides free domain name for upto 12 months, but only with certain TLD.
  2. An AWS account. A fresh account is eligible forsome free resources. See more here.

Registering domain with Route53

AWS Route53 is highly available and scalable cloud based DNS system with 100% uptime guarantee. It provides an array of services for DNS management. We shall begin by adding our domain in Route53 by creating a new public hosted zone.

AWS Route53 name server details<br>

Once we register our domain with Route53, it will provide us with the list of name servers to be used for our domain.

AWS Route53 Add new public hosted zone<br>

These name servers are managed by AWS and we need to update this with our domain name registrar.

Updating nameserver with domain provider<br>

Generating SSL certificate for domain

The AWS Certificate Manager provides public SSL certificates for free of cost. We shall use it to generate the certificates for our domain, so that our domain can be access using the HTTPS protocol. This ensures that all communication between the user and the server is encrypted, and safe.

AWS Certiciate Manager request public SSL certificate<br>

We will use the fully qualified domain name (FQDN), the www sub-domain and a * for all future sub-domains, that we may need.

AWS Certificate Manager domain details<br>
After we request the SSL certificate, AWS ensures that we are the actual ownners of the domain before issuing the certificates. AWS recommends that we add certain CNAME records against our domain, which it can verify. Once the records are added, it takes some time for them to be propagated to AWS.

AWS Certiciate Manager CNAME entries required<br>

Once AWS verifies the domain with the CNAME entries, the certificate is issued and ready to be used.

AWS Certiciate Manager DNS records added, certiciate ready<br>

Adding the static website assets to S3

AWS Simple Storage Service seems to be the ideal choice when it comes to storing data. S3 supports practically unlimited storage. Each object in S3 can span upto 5 TB in size. AWS charges us for using S3 on the following two parameters

  • Space consumed
  • Size of data moving in and out of S3 Once we have our static site assets such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, Images, Videos, PDFs etc (whatever is required), we need to move it toS3. But before that we must create a bucket in S3, with a globally unique name. Because the bucket name is a part of URL which must globally unique.

AWS S3 bucket<br>

AWS Simple Storage Service bucket contents uploaded<br>

Configuring CloudFront for S3

AWS CloudFront is a globally distributes CDN service. Using CloudFront we can ensure that users from across the globe are able to access our contents with low latency. CloundFront can be integrated with a number of ther AWS services include S3. Lets go ahead and create a CloudFront distribution for our S3 bucket.

AWS CloudFront distribution configuration<br>

Although we could have enabled public access for S3 bucket, but rather we kept it private (by default). With OAI, we are permitting the CloudFront distribution to be able to access contents via the bucket policy.

AWS CloudFront distribution configuration<br>
Although AWS CloudFront has edge locations across the world, we can segregate the content disbution based on where are customer are located. Additionally, we are also informing the CloudFront distibution about the domain via which it will be accessed and providing the corresponding SSL certificates. Once the distribution is created, it will take some time before it is ready to be consumed.

AWS CloudFront distribution ready<br>

The last action

Once our CloudFront distribution is ready to be used, we must make another A record entry agains the domain which would be a proxy to the cloudfront distribution.

AWS Route53 add A record for CloudFront distibution<br>

Target achieved

After all this, we need to be patient for all the DNS information to be propagated. Once it is done, we can access our domain and see the static site in action.

Static site hosted using AWS components

That will be all folks...

Top comments (3)

mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller

Nice post but usind IaC like AWS CDK would make it so much easier :)

vishalraj82 profile image
Vishal Raj

Agreed. There are more than one way to achieve this. I would encourage you to write the article about AWS CDK. Do share it with me. Thanks.

mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller • Edited

Thanks for the recommendation but there are already a bunch out there ;). Though not from me personally but from other amazing CDK folks.