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I'm exploring options for running a small cloud Windows Server (either AWS EC2 Micro or Azure Extra Small).

The server won't be hit very hard, but I need to run a simple relational database, which I'm expecting to be moderately sized - probably a few tables with a few hundred thousand records, and running a few thousand queries a day to aggregate the data. I'm most familiar with SQL Server, so I'm looking into using SQL Express. However, the system specs are well below the recommended values for SQL 2012 Express. 2008 is a little better, but still not great.

Anyone have experience (good or bad) with running SQL Server Express on one of these servers? I'll definitely do some testing before making a decision, but with the inconsistency that comes with these shared computing solutions, I can't be confident after just one or two testing sessions, so anecdotal evidence would be great.

If SQL Server doesn't work well, I'll be looking into other solutions - it seems Postgres works well in a wimpy server, or maybe MySQL or one of its forks, or possibly cloud database hosting like Azure SQL Databases.

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In my experience, Amazon doesn't seem to expect Micro instances to be used for much of anything other than trying out AWS or hosting an app while still in development. For a database you'll actually be using, you should at least get a Small instance, in my opinion.

That said, if I were you I'd use RDS. It's Amazon's relational database, and it frees you from having to maintain the hardware at all. You just set it up and connect to it like you would any other database. There are several database types, including SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle. It really will make life easier for you. Amazon has some introductory information about this service that you might find helpful.

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Thanks, I'll consider that - small is significantly more expensive than the Micro/XS, but still within reason. I didn't realize RDS used SQL/MySQL/Oracle - I always thought that it was a generic AWS-specific solution - so I'll look into that as well, and compare that against Azure SQL. I still need a server though for running a few simple Windows services or scheduled jobs - without SQL Server running, a Micro/XS should easily be able to handle that. –  Joe Enos Aug 8 '13 at 15:44
Yeah that's what I'd probably do. I'm not sure what the cost tradeoff is between running a Micro and and RDS vs. running a Small for both. You may have seen this already, but check out calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html for a calculator that you can use to determine which would be cheaper. –  dsw88 Aug 8 '13 at 16:39
The cost for running a Small instance is very low if you use reserved instances. –  Ken Liu Dec 16 '13 at 17:37

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