AWS is the most popular public cloud provider on the planet with dozens of services. EC2, a service of AWS, is one of the most popular. If you're just starting to kick the tires of EC2 and want to know how to create an EC2 instance, you've come to the right place.

AWS EC2 is Amazon's service for virtual machines. EC2's main component is EC2 instances. You can think of an EC2 instance as a virtual machine.

In this article, you're going to learn how to create an EC2 using the AWS Management Console. You'll learn how to walk through the standard EC2 instance wizard choosing the image, storage, networking and more.

Find the EC2 Service in the Management Console

The first task you'll need to do is find the EC2 service in the AWS management console. To do that, navigate to the AWS console. In the Find Services search bar, search bar type ec2 and the EC2 option should show up as shown below. Click on it.

On the main page, click on the orange Launch instance button as shown in the screenshot below.

Once clicking on Launch instance, you should then be sent to the EC2 instance wizard.

Choosing an Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

Once the wizard loads, you'll then be in the Choose AMI section. This is the section where you select the AMI to use for the instance.

The AMI to use is up to you. Here you can select Windows, Linux, and other images. Scroll through the available options and click on the Select button as shown below.

Notice the Free tier eligible instances. These images are always a good choices for kicking the tires of EC2.

This tutorial will use the RedHat based, Amazon Linux AMI.

Choosing a Size

The next page is where you'll choose the compute size or Instance Type. This is where you define both many vCPUs the instance will have and total memory. If you'd like to stay in the free tier, choose t2.micro.

After you've chosen an instance size, click on the Next: Configure Instance Details button.

Configuring Instance Details

In the next screen, you'll need to set up areas such as networking, user roles assigned to the instance, monitoring options and so on.

To keep things simple, keep all of the defaults. They are good enough for now.

If you have an existing network, feel free to assign it here. Otherwise, a network will be automatically created in your AWS account.

After the instance details have been chosen, click Next: Add Storage button like in the screenshot below to begin defining disk storage options.

Choosing Storage

When you choose a free tier instance, the default disk size for an EC2 instance is 8GB. This is fine for now but if you'd like a larger disk attached to this instance, the Add Storage page is where you can do it.

Once you have chosen the disk size, click the Next: Add Tags button to add any optional tags.

Adding Tags

Tags are a great way to organize and manage nearly all of your AWS resources. For this tutorial though, no tags are necessary. Leave the tags blank in the Add Tags screen and click Next: Configure Security Group to set some firewall rules.

Choosing a Security Group

In the Configure Security Group screen, you'll need to define a set of firewall rules to control what's allowed to come in and out of your EC2 instance. You're not going to be doing anything fancy in this tutorial so the default is good enough.

A default security group is always created for each AWS VPC (network). You can use an existing security group here, but all future examples will be using the default security group.

When you've selected a security group, click the Review and Launch button to complete the setup.

Putting It All Together

Now that the instance is ready, it's time to launch. Click the Launch button to create the EC2 instance as shown below.

If you selected a Linux image, when you click on Launch, you will be prompted to select an existing key pair or create a new one. A key pair is a public and private key that, when used, together authenticates a connection to this instance. The key pair is what you'll use to SSH into the instance.

This tutorial assumes you don't already have a key pair created so choose the Create a new key pair option. Once you do, provide a name, and click on the Download Key Pair button.

Once you've downloaded the key pair, click on the Launch Instances button. This will finally begin launching the EC2 instance using all of the configurations you've provided.


In this article, you learned how to get started with AWS EC2. You went through the EC2 Instance wizard on the AWS Management Console and now have a free, standard EC2 instance you can SSH into and use at your discretion.