Azure Trial: How to Sign Up and Start Building Websites for Free
Getting Your Microsoft Azure Trial Account
After reading the previous lesson you should understand web hosting and the part it plays in building websites. I tried to answer the question "What is Microsoft Azure?" - or at least as much as matters to you as someone interested in building websites. The Azure trial is your gateway to the Microsoft Azure portal. The Azure portal gives you access to everything you need to quickly and easily set up a website.
In this lesson, I'll show you how to sign up for a free Microsoft Azure trial. Actually, what you are signing up for is a full Azure account not just a trial. The Azure trial refers to the $200 in credits (to use in the first 30 days) you receive to test some of the paid services you'll find in the Azure portal. Whether you use them or not, you still end up with a full Azure account to use as you see fit.
Those credits aren't going to be all that useful for you. It's highly unlikely that you will build, deploy, and drive enough traffic to your website in the first 30 days to warrant spending any of it - but it's there if you need it.
Unbreakable Rule #1 - you don't pay for something unless you're getting more back.
You will start developing your sites using a free server option in the Microsoft Azure portal. You won't venture into paid territory until your website is capable of giving you enough income to pay for it (plus some). Ideally, you're never going to dip into any personal money to host your website on the internet. It's going to work for you.
The video at the top of the page takes you through the whole signup process in case you don't like the step-by-step below. It takes about 2 minutes if you already have a Microsoft Account. Probably about 4 minutes if you don't. So, if you're ready, let's get you going with your Azure trial.
Step 1: Make Sure You Have a Microsoft Account
If you're using a Windows computer, it's likely you already have a Microsoft account. You could use that account but I don't recommend it. As you set up your business and start collecting data, it is necessary to keep your business dealings separate from your personal affairs. Unless you already have a Microsoft account setup specifically for your business, I highly recommend you create a new one. To do that:
- Go the Microsoft Account creation page.
- Fill out the form which will look like the image here on the right. Note that you can use any existing email address you might have or you can create a new one. If you want to create a new one, click the "Get a new email address" link and the user name box will change to this:
The down arrow on the right lets you choose between an outlook.com or a hotmail.com email address. Either works fine.
Once you've picked an email address, just fill out the rest of the form. Enter the captcha letters at the bottom and click create account.
Remember your new email address and password - they are the Microsoft account credentials you will use to create your Azure trial in the next step.
Step 2: Signup for Your Azure Trial
Now that you have a Microsoft Account, you're almost ready to signup for your Azure account. I say almost because you're going to need a couple things to complete the signup process:
- A Microsoft Account that you are going to use for your business (Step 1 above).
- A valid phone number. Part of the signup process requires that you be able to receive a text message or an automated voice call. Microsoft will send you a code that you need to enter to verify your identity.
- A valid credit card. Nothing gets charged to the card unless you start signing up to services in the portal and run out of credits. Everything you're going to do is free. You won't start spending any money until you're making money. It is possible to sign up with someone else's credit card (i.e., a parent's/friend's card if they give you permission to do so). I highly recommend you use a credit card that will only be used for your business purchases (to keep personal/business expenses separate).
Once you've collected everything you need:
- Go to the free Azure Trial Account page to start the signup process. You'll see something like below picture.
- Click on Start free - and a popup asking for your email address shows up like one below. Enter the email address of your Microsoft account and click Submit.
- You'll be presented with the Microsoft Account sign in screen if you are not currently signed in to your Microsoft Account. It's important at this point to make sure you are signed in with the right account. If you aren't, be sure to sign out first, then sign in with the right account. The sign in screen looks like this:
- After signing into your Microsoft Account you finally get to the Azure Trial account signup page. Simply go through and fill out the form. All four sections are required. Note that the dollar value of the credit may change depending on where you are from. At time of writing this, US gets $200, Canada $250, etc... When you get to the telephone part - be sure you use a valid phone number and choose whether to receive a text message or automated phone call. You'll need the code Microsoft sends in order to proceed to the credit card part of the signup. Once you've filled everything in and agreed to the terms/conditions (check the boxes) - your account will be setup and ready to go.
With that, your Azure trial should be setup and ready to go. If you aren't automatically taken to the Azure portal, try logging in at http://portal.azure.com . The portal should look something like this:
In Summary - Microsoft Azure Trial Account Signup
Congratulations, you've just opened up a Microsoft Azure account and are an active member in the cloud. You now have a huge amount of computing power available to you. It is likely way more than you'll ever need or want. There's still a few things you'll need to learn about Microsoft Azure as your business grows, but we'll cover them when needed.
Next up, we're going to get your first WordPress website up and running on Azure (takes about 5 min). See you then.