How to stop and start your instance

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Fortunately, you don't have to repeat all the previous steps to complete the Launch Instance wizard every time you want to use Amazon EC2. Once you have an instance created, it's fairly easy to log in, start, and and stop it. Before we talk about logging in, let's cover the basics of how to stop and start the instance. You'll need to begin using these techniques immediately, every time you use your instance, in order to keep costs down.

When people begin using Amazon EC2, they often ask about the difference between logging out, stopping, or terminating an instance.

  • You can close your Windows Remote Desktop Connection session or click the Windows Log Out button when you are finished using your instance. However, this does not stop the instance and you continue to accrue charges for it.
  • You can stop the instance, which is akin to pressing the power button to turn off your physical machine on your desktop: the machine is still there, and you can start it later, but it's not using any resources like electricity, spinning its CPU, etc., and it's not getting charged by Amazon. (Amazon does continue to charge you for the disk space your instance is using, but this is a relatively small charge.)  When you are working through this course, you should stop the instance when you are finished working on the lessons for the day. When you are ready to go back to the lessons, you can start the instance and continue working with your programs and data.
  • You can terminate an instance, which makes the instance go away forever. The only thing left behind is any disk drive that was attached to the instance. Terminating your instance will hopefully not be necessary in this course; however, you can keep it as an option if your instance gets corrupted. If you terminate your instance, then you will have to create a new one using the steps in the previous section of the lesson for the Launch Instance wizard.

If you fail to stop your instances after you have finished working, you will quickly use up the Amazon education credits that you have been allotted for this course. You are responsible for covering the cost overrun with your own money.

Below are some reference instructions that you can use to stop and start your instance (Do not stop your instance for at least 20 minutes after you first launch it. It needs time to configure Windows and OpenGeo Server for the first time.)

You can return to this page throughout the course if you need help remembering how to stop and start your instance. Be aware that a few of the instructions apply only to instances running ArcGIS Server, which you will use in Lesson 2. These steps are clearly marked as being ArcGIS Server-specific.

Stopping your GeoServer instance

  1. Log in to the AWS Management Console and click the Amazon EC2 tab.
  2. Click Instances.
  3. Right-click your instance and click Stop.

This stops the clock on the charges for running your instance. When an instance is stopped, no one can use your server and you cannot log in.

Starting a GeoServer instance and re-associating the Elastic IP

When you start your instance, it takes a few minutes to boot up, but you shouldn't have to wait the full 20 minutes that you waited when you first launched the instance. Whenever you start an instance, you also have to remember to re-associate the Elastic IP. Always follow the instructions below when you start your instance:

  1. Log in to the AWS Management Console and click the Amazon EC2 tab.
  2. Click Instances.
  3. Right-click your instance and click Start.
  4. Wait at least 10 minutes so that the machine can start up and configure itself correctly. 

    All instances require a few minutes to start up. ArcGIS Server instances especially require this time in order to run scripts that sync up the new machine name with ArcGIS Server. If these get out of sync, it can be difficult to fix and may require you to create a new instance.
  5. Click Elastic IPs and check the box next to your Elastic IP.
  6. Click Associate Address, choose your instance from the drop-down list, and click Yes, Associate.

After a few minutes your instance will be ready to use with its Elastic IP. After enough times of repeating this action you should have these instructions memorized.

Stopping and starting ArcGIS Server instances

When you start using ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2, you'll launch, stop, and start your site using an application called Cloud Builder. You should not use the above instructions to stop and start an ArcGIS Server instance that you have launched with Cloud Builder. Instead, use the Start and Stop buttons that are included in Cloud Builder. These start and stop your instances behind the scenes, but they also perform other actions that are essential to stop and start your ArcGIS Server site smoothly.

Viewing your bill

To view your accrued charges at any time, go to and click Account Activity. Log in and you'll be able to see a detailed breakdown of all the charges you've incurred on Amazon EC2.

I recommend that you view your bill after every lesson so that you can understand whether you are in danger of using up all your education credits. If you consistently stop your instances after you are finished working, it is unlikely that you will reach the limit. However, if you are close to reaching the limit or have already surpassed it, please inform an instructor to discuss your options.

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