QandA: How do you avoid being charged unnecessarily for Windows Azure compute hours?

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


[Check out my other QandAs]

You would reasonably expect to be charged for the use of the Windows Azure Platform for any application you have built which is live on Azure.

But you will a) want to minimise that cost and b) you would probably like to avoid it all together while doing development or learning about Azure.

These “tips” should help you minimise the cost:

Make the most of January 2010

You can use the Windows Azure Platform at no charge throughout January and get an insight into the billing. Remember

January is FREE!

Understand how we charge

Billing of compute hours is done in hourly chunks. You get billed for a full hour for every deployed application, even if you only have it running for just 1 minute. Remember that the instance type affects how much we bill e.g. Medium is using 2 physical cores and is twice as expensive as Small which is using one core.

From the Introductory Special:

  • Small instance (default): £0.0728 per hour
  • Medium instance: £0.1455 per hour
  • Large instance: £0.291 per hour
  • Extra large instance: £0.5819 per hour

Take advantage of the introductory offers


Develop and test locally

Where possible stick with the Development Fabric which comes as part of the SDK. Only deploy an application to Windows Azure when you are absolutely ready to do so.

Delete applications you no longer need from the cloud

When an application isn’t used – DELETE IT – don’t just suspend it.  More Detail

Use the right number of instances of an application

Use the minimal number of virtual machines instances.  If you don’t have an explicit reason to use multiple instances, don’t. Remember you need two instances to get the SLA from Microsoft.



Avoid Surprises

Track your usage diligently on the Microsoft Online Service portal but remember that the portal is lagging behind your actual usage. I believe it is 12 hours behind. 

Comments (3)
  1. DanTup says:

    I wrote on my blog comparing pricing of Azure to Google App Engine:

    App Engine wins hands down, though the difference is more significant for small sites, because Google only charges for CPU time consumed, not for the entire time you’re live.

    It works out very expensive to have a very low traffic application live on Azure. Is it likely that there will ever by pay-for-what-you-use CPU billing?

  2. Interesting comparison.

    You are spot on that Azure "v1" isnt the cheapest way of delivering a site that is used "a little" and doesn’t require a full RDBMS in the cloud.

    Price isn’t everything though. I think Azure wins hands down on choice (.net. ruby, java, php) and features (full rdbms etc) vs Google App Engine.

    P.S. This post was cross posted from my main site

  3. DanTup says:

    > Price isn’t everything though. I think Azure wins hands down on choice (.net. ruby, java, php) and features (full rdbms etc) vs Google App Engine.

    I agree price isn’t everything, but the prices are so far apart, that I’ve picked App Engine as my current "hoby", despite zero experience of Google products and Python, and 8 years commercial experience writing C#/SQL Server.

    I know I’m not the only developer that’ll happily learn a new language/framework when it’s free vs quite expensive.

    I really hope Microsoft will reconsider their pricing.

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