Create Your Own AWS Cloud Desktop in 20 Minutes - for FREE!

Work from home or just about anywhere with a cloud-based Windows desktop using most any device and an Internet connection. For a limited time, Amazon is making several of their AWS services free in light of the recent “work from home” initiative kicked off by the COVID19 pandemic. Workspaces is just one of many available services and it provides a virtual desktop with limitless mobility, stringent security and bidirectional month to month scalability at a very reasonable price (charges apply after AWS resumes billing for this and other services).

When the news of a pandemic broke many scrambled to shift gears looking at their best alternatives for staying connected to the office, their line-of-business applications and most importantly, their mission critical data while at home. For some, the shift was quick and painless. For others, the gears began to grind and business as usual came to a scratching halt. We know. We fielded many of those calls for help.

Whether you’re still holdup at home or you’ve made your way back to some sense of normalcy at the office, there’s no better time than the present to evaluate your mobile compute options. Because AWS Workspaces is relatively simple to setup and maintain I’ve decided to create this BLOG post with step by step instructions. They’re easy to follow, I’ve provided screenshots for each step and again, its free to get started. There’s absolutely nothing to lose here accept about 20 minutes of your day. 

Should you run into problems or have questions, feel free to reach out by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Step One - Sign up for a FREE AWS account

  • Find your way over to AWS at Https://aws.amazon.com and setup your free account by clicking on the orange button in the upper right corner.
  • The next page will require an active email address that you have access to, a new password and a name for your account. When done, click Continue.
  • Next up you’ll provide your contact information. Select “Professional” account type at the top and click Create Account and Continue button at the bottom or the page.
  • Even though the account is free and you will have access to many free services, you are still required to enter a credit card. This will cover any charges above and beyond the free tier and also for security purposes. When the form is complete click Verify and Add.
  • For added security you will receive a text or voice call with a code to enter. Fill in the appropriate information including your phone number and click Send.
  • Enter the 4-digit verification code you receive, submit and get instant approval.
  • You’ll be asked to select a support plan next. We suggest the Basic Plan as it's Free. If you plan to expand your Workspaces environment, you can always change this option at a later date.
  • Your AWS account is basically setup and you’re ready to login. You can disregard the two questions about personalizing your experience in the center and just click the Sign in to the Console button in the upper right corner.
  • First step to sign in, select Root User, enter your email address and click Next. Step two, enter the password you used to setup the account and click Sign In.

Step Two - Setup your first Workspace with Simple Active Directory

  • From the AWS landing page click on the orange Services link in the upper left and then on Workspaces link in the upper right. This will take you to the Regions selection page.
  • On the regions page you will see that only regions that support Workspaces are highlighted. You’ll want to select the region that is geographically closest to you or closest to where the end user is located. This will help with overall performance and speed.
  • Simply click Get Started Now on the next page.
  • For the no-brainer Directory and Workspace configuration click Launch next to Quick Setup.
  • This page is where you will pick the virtual desktop resources you want to use for your first instance. There are several Windows-based options, but I recommend either Standard or Performance. At the bottom you will enter information for each user. If you are creating more than one desktop there is a button to add additional users. Refer to the information above for number of users vs. instance size to remain in the free tier. Click Launch Workspaces to begin the build process.
  • You're presented with a screen telling you that your Workspaces are being launched. From there you can click the View Work Spaces Console to access the Workspaces service page, but will have to wait about 20 minutes while your Directory and first Workspace is created.
  • Somewhere between the initial AWS account signup and now you will have received three emails. Nothing overly important, but save them anyway.

Step Three - Log on for the first time

  • Once your Workspace is complete you will receive a fourth email with a link to activate and set credentials/password, a Workspace registration code, your user name and a link to download the Workspaces client for your operating system.
  • First click the link in item No. 1 from the email, provide a password and click Update User. You should be automatically redirected to a page with Workspace clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome, Fire, Web and Linux. Download and install the appropriate selection for you device. If not auto redirected to the client download page the link is in the fourth email.
  • You’re almost there. Launch the client, enter your workspace’s registration code and click Register. Lastly, enter your user name and password and in a few seconds you will be logged into your brand new AWS Workspaces virtual desktop.

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