Storage pricing at AWS

How does AWS storage pricing work?

If you're here, then you're FINALLY interested in understanding how AWS storage pricing works? You've come to the right place. AWS is not in the habit of creating clear and necessarily very transparent billing systems. But when it came to storage, they went all out. You don't understand anything about your Amazon S3 bill? Don't worry, it's normal. We warn you right away, this article will take you into the meanders of AWS storage. But we promise you, you'll come out of this all better.

This article is not intended to detail every possible and imaginable rate for AWS storage services. Such a feat is simply inhuman. Above all, we would like to clarify to you as much as possible the elements that are taken into account in the invoicing of each of the products offered by the American giant, to answer the following question: what exactly am I going to pay?

To that end, this article will be structured around the following
outline. Feel free to navigate to the services that are relevant to you
so that you don't get lost in the maze of AWS storage.

1 - The three types of AWS storage

2 - Amazon S3 Pricing

3 - Amazon EBS Pricing

4 - Amazon EFS Pricing

5 - Amazon FSx for Lustre Pricing

6 - Amazon FSx for Windows File Server Pricing

7 - AWS Backup pricing

8 - AWS Storage Gateway Pricing

9 - Summary table

Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

1 - The three types of AWS storage

First of all, it is important to understand the basic system of storage on AWS. Amazon offers 3 different types of storage:

  • File-based storage
  • Block storage
  • Storage by objects

The file storage, no need to
explain it in detail. It is the traditional system that everyone knows,
based on an easily identifiable hierarchy:

Block storage is an automated system that
organizes data into blocks with similar characteristics. This intelligent model
optimizes data storage and spreads the blocks across
different environments, without affecting performance and
responsiveness of queries. Recovery is generally fast, especially since
there is no path to follow. This storage system is best suited to
large volumes of data and large transfers.

Object-based storage is similar to
storing raw data in a dedicated space. No clearly hierarchical
files, no intelligently generated blocks: objects are like
pure data stored without any particular configuration in a
storage space hosted in the Cloud.

2 - Amazon S3 Pricing

Amazon S3 is THE flagship service of the AWS range. If you
know anything about the AWS universe, you're probably familiar with this
storage system. What is less certain is that you have already understood how
its pricing works. We explain it all to you.

The special feature of Amazon S3 is that it only offers storage in object mode. The objects themselves are stored in the famous "S3 Buckets", a kind of gigantic bucket of raw data. Note that each object can be up to 5TB.

A - Amazon S3 storage classes

The Amazon S3 offering itself is based on 6 different storage classes, allowing you to further customize your storage type based on your data processing habits. The idea here is not to detail precisely these 6 classes, but only to introduce them to allow a better understanding of S3 pricing.

  • S3 Standard: suitable for any type of data. The generic storage of Amazon S3.
  • S3 Intelligent - Tiering: an intelligent class suitable for data with unknown or irregular access patterns.
  • S3 Standard - Infrequent Access: Suitable for data with a long lifetime and requiring infrequent access and an access time in the millisecond range.
  • S3 unizone - Infrequent access: suitable for data that can be recreated, requiring infrequent access and access time in the millisecond range.
  • S3 Glacier: suitable for the backup and archiving of so-called "cold" data. Extraction time from 1 minute to 12 hours.
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive: the "coldest" class in the Amazon S3 offer. Suitable for long-term archiving with rare access (once or twice a year) and an access time of less than 12 hours.

B - Understanding Amazon S3 Pricing

Amazon S3 pricing is based on 4 main axes, which allow a better understanding of the sources of expenses related to the storage of objects in S3 Buckets. Concretely, when you host raw data in an S3 bucket, you pay :

  • Storage
  • Queries and data extraction
  • Data transfers
  • Management functions

We now enter into the details of each of these
elements. This is where it gets tricky.

a - Pricing of S3 storage

S3 storage pricing itself depends on several

  • The size of the stored objects
  • Storage duration over the month
  • The chosen storage class S3

Pricing for these items is available directly
in the AWS console. Depending on your needs, you will be able to find the
configuration that suits you best and optimize your expenses to the maximum
depending on how you will use your data.

But that's not all. In addition to these first variables, you will also pay monitoring fees AND automation fees for objects stored on S3 Intelligent - Tiering. Finally, import fees arise from LUP and COPY requests. It is therefore important to pay attention to the import costs for each object movement, in any storage class.

Also keep in mind that some classes have
minimum storage times. Any object deleted, overwritten or moved in
below this limit, charges are applied pro rata to the remaining
Here is the list:

  • S3 Intelligent Tiering, S3 Standard - infrequent
    access and S3 Unizone - infrequent access = 30 days
  • S3 Glacier = 90 days
  • S3 is Deep Glacier = 180 days

Finally, the little extra that may surprise you: a metadata management fee finally applies (8KB for standard S3 rates and 32KB for S3 Glacier/Deep Glacier rates). I promise, it's over. We're not adding anything else. Let's move on to the pricing of requests.

b - Pricing of queries and data extraction

The cost of queries depends only on the type and number of queries, based on a system of 1000 query increments. Obviously, the rate applied varies according to the storage class selected, and therefore according to the heat of your data.

Please note: Extraction of items stored in S3 Standard - infrequent access, S3 Unizone - infrequent access, S3 Glacier and S3 Glacier Deep Archive will incur additional costs.

The little gift of the house: DELETE and CANCEL requests are free of charge. It's for us, it's a gift. But don't get too excited, because you will be charged for the queries to browse your data.

Let's move on to data transfers.

c - Pricing of data transfers

Globally, no surprise here:
the whole bandwidth is charged to you. Only 4 particular cases

  • Incoming data from the Internet
  • Outbound data to an EC2 instance in
    the same region as your S3 Bucket
  • Outgoing data to Amazon Cloudfront
  • Data transfers between Bucket S3

Everything else is charged. Simple in the idea, but always
very variable so not so easy to anticipate.

d - Pricing of data management functions

Like any good data storage tool,
management services are provided by AWS to help manage your datas. Take
for example S3 Storage Management, Amazon CloudWatch or AWS CloudTrail.

These tools are based on the execution of functions that enable you to manage your data easily. Of course, these functions are charged to you by Amazon. These are called data management functions.

Finally, to complete this rather delicate demonstration, let's specify that the rates for each of these billing lines vary according to the region in which you decide to store your data, otherwise it's no fun.

However, new AWS S3 users can take advantage of an attractive free offer: every month, for one year, they get 5 GB of free S3 Standard storage, 20,000 GET 2,000 PUT, COPY or LIST queries and 15 GB of outbound data transfers.

C - Practical application

As an example, let's compare an Amazon S3 Standard storage and an Amazon S3 Glacier storage. Let's take a rather simple case, such as an e-commerce site architecture: you want to store 1 TB of data on which you want to make regular queries. Your configuration :

  • Storage of 1TB
  • 1,000,000 LUP, COPY, POST and LIST queries
  • 100,000 GET and SELECT requests
  • 150 GB of inbound and outbound transfers per month

For this type of use, Amazon S3 Standard will cost you $30.38 USD per month. At the same time, Amazon S3 Glacier will cost you 112.18 USD per month. In this case, Amazon S3 Standard is more advantageous.

Now let's take a very different use, such as archiving invoices: you want to store the same amount of data, but without consulting it frequently: "cold" data. Your configuration :

  • Storage of 1TB
  • 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST and LIST queries
  • 100 GET and SELECT requests
  • 150 GB of inbound and outbound transfers per month

For this type of use, Amazon S3 Standard will cost you $25.04 USD per month. At the same time, Amazon S3 Glacier will cost you 6.24 USD per month. In this case, Amazon S3 Glacier is more advantageous.

Our conclusion: depending on your uses, it is essential to identify what best suits your needs. Here we can see that S3 Standard is much more suitable for hot data than S3 Glacier. Conversely for cold data. It is up to you to determine how you will use the data you store on Amazon S3.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

3 - Amazon EBS Pricing

Next! Here he is, next: Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS). As the name implies, no surprise: EBS is a block storage service. It is designed for use with EC2 instances. In this regard, if you wish to understand how EC2 AWS instances are billed, we recommend our latest article on the pricing of the Compute AWS range.

Amazon EBS allows users to benefit from a high-performance and largely flexible
storage that can support the most intense and demanding
workloads. To understand the pricing
of Amazon EBS, we need to look at the different volume types offered.
There are 4 distinct types:

  • The Provisioned IOPS (io1) SSD volume is
    a high-performance volume designed for latency-sensitive transactional
    workloads. In short, the ideal profile
    to ensure optimal responsiveness.
  • The General Purpose EBS (gp2) SSD volume,
    offering general purpose and good price/performance ratio, while
    supporting a wide range of transactional workloads.
  • The HDD Throughput Optimized (st1) volume,
    a rather economical volume, suitable for high throughput workloads and
    frequently accessed.
  • The volume cold HDD (sc1), which, as
    its name suggests, is more for so-called "cold" data. With
    a more affordable price, it is designed for the least accessed workloads

Amazon EBS pricing is much simpler to understand than Amazon S3 pricing: you pay a flat fee based on the type of volume you decide to use. This price varies depending on the regions in which you store your data. But that's something I don't really need to mention anymore.

In addition to high-performance storage features, Amazon EBS also offers snapshot features. In a nutshell: snapshots are backups of your data to ensure the security and continuity of your storage. You can compare snapshots to a photograph of your data at a "point in time". The good news is that you ONLY pay for the elements that are added to your snapshots between two shots. So you don't pay for each of your snapshots in addition to your history.

Snapshots are also charged on a
"GB/month" model,
which varies by region.

To restore your data in the event of a problem, Amazon EBS
offers the Fast Snapshot Restore(FSR) service, which is also
charged extra per hour of service units. Billed by the minute,
with a minimum of 1 hour of use.

The little extra: you pay for each
LIST and GET request made on the Amazon EBS direct API
In concrete terms: you rent a garage and every time you want
to open the door or take your car out, you have to pay a few cents to
. The difference is that AWS charges you per thousand

Updated 03/03/2020 : Amazon recently announced the ability to use AWS Multi-Attach to allow multiple EC2 instances to access a standard file system simultaneously. However, beware of simultaneous accesses that may lead to corruption or loss of a block of data. This new functionality must therefore be integrated into your strategy carefully and after a thorough analysis of the model requirements. To learn more about these specificities, find the AWS presentation article here.

Practical application

Let's take a look at data similar to the concrete application for Amazon S3. You decide to provision a standard EBS instance (gp2) of 1TB for a full month (730 hours), with a daily snapshot and movements of about 5GB per day.

For this type of usage, you therefore include the cost of the storage package and the cost of the snapshots. We will not go as far as to calculate the GET or LIST requests on the ES direct API, nor the restoration of the snapshots. For this type of configuration and to give you an idea, you will pay 282.03USD per month (EU region - Paris).

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

4 - Amazon EFS Pricing

You're okay, we didn't lose you? We warned you, it's a little shaky. Now we move on to the pricing of Amazon Elastic File System, aka Amazon EFS. For the more pragmatic, we are on a traditional use of the NFS file-based storage system, as we all use it on most of our computer tools (or even in our physical archives).

The advantage that EFS offers over a traditional
storage system is that, as is often the case in the cloud, capacity scales
according to demand. No need to monitor your
storage capacity as growth varies. The Amazon EFS model is based on
two classes of storage: the Standard class and the Infrequent Access
class (IA EFS).

What's interesting for Amazon EFS users,
is that the service intelligently identifies files that are rarely or not at all accessed
and redirects them to the Infrequent Access class
if possible. You
therefore save money without having to be very careful about
accessing your data. The figures on the subject are
striking: 80% of files are little accessed and only 20% are
actively used

Pricing level, you know what?" With Amazon EFS, you only pay for the resources you use. What a surprise! Pricing is actually quite simple compared to previous services: you pay based on your consumption of GB per month and the price varies by storage region. Nothing more, nothing less.

Practical application

If we consider the 80/20 statement to be correct, then let's take an example in this sense: you want to store about 500 GB per month via EFS. So you'll have 400 GB for infrequent access and 100 GB as standard each month. If you store in the EU - Paris region, this configuration will cost you around 40.42 USD.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

5 - Amazon FSx for Lustre Pricing

I promise, this one will be easy enough to understand. Amazon FSx for Lustre is a high-performance file system optimized and suitable for fast processing of workloads such as Machine Learning, high-performance computing, video processing or financial modeling for example. Pretty powerful service, then. It works natively with Amazon S3 to facilitate the processing of your S3 data.

It couldn't be simpler than Amazon FSx for Lustre pricing: depending on the region in which you store your data (obviously), you pay a flat rate per GB/month.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

6 - Amazon FSx for Windows File Server Pricing

The Amazon FSx for Windows File Server service is a file system for easily transferring Windows applications requiring shared file storage to AWS.

Pricing here depends on several factors:

  • storage capacity, you pay for the average amount of storage allocated by me for your file systems.
  • throughput capacity, you pay for the average throughput capacity you allocate to your file systems per month, calculated in Mbit/s/month.
  • Storage of the system backups you make. As for snapshots on EBS, you only pay for the modifications that have just been added to your old backups.

As always, prices vary depending on the region of
storage. No surprise there.

Note that Amazon FSx supports data deduplication, which will allow you to reduce the costs associated with redundant data by storing duplicate portions of your files only once.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

7 - AWS Backup pricing

As its name suggests, AWS Backup is an automatic backup service that allows the centralization and automation of data backups across all AWS services. In concrete terms, this tool gives you a global view of all your backups in the Cloud or on site, whether they are on EBS volumes, RDS databases or DynamoDB tables for example, and allows you to automate the management of your backups for maximum time savings.

In terms of the pricing of this service, three elements come into play :

  • The storage of saved data
  • The restoration of this data
  • Data transfers

The rates vary depending on whether you choose to store your data "hot" or "cold", so understand: available quickly or available with variable latency. We remind you again, but prices also vary according to the region chosen. Small subtlety, the regions are less numerous: USA East, USA West, South America, Canada, Europe, Asia-Pacific.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

8 - AWS Storage Gateway Pricing

Finally, here is the last service we will talk about in this article: AWS Storage Gateway. It's a storage service that gives you on-site access to virtually unlimited cloud storage. AWS Storage Gateway is well suited for the following use cases: moving tape backups to the Cloud, reducing onsite storage with shares of files backed up in the Cloud, providing low latency access to data in AWS for onsite applications, as well as various use cases for migration, archiving and disaster recovery.

The service is based on three types of gateways: Band Gateway, File Gateway and Volume Gateway. The pricing of this service is based on these three types of gateways. For each of these gateways, you are billed for: storage, requests and queries (for the tape gateway only).

The little extra that doesn't always please: as often (always?), you are charged for outgoing data transfers. Incoming data is free of charge.

Find the summary table of all the products by clicking here.

9 - Summary table

You've come to the end of this long journey in the pricing of the AWS storage offer. Congratulations to those who read the article from beginning to end, you are among the best of us. For those of you who have only read the parts that are relevant to you, you are already quite brave to embark on understanding the AWS billing model.

To help you quickly take stock of the various services offered and their specificities, here is a summary table that gives you a complete overview at a glance.

If you are interested in the pricing of all other AWS services, we have written several articles on the major Cloud product families:

1 - How does AWS pricing work?

2 - Pricing of the "Compute" range at Aws

3 - Database pricing at AWS

4 - Networking pricing at AWS

And if controlling your Cloud expenses is a major issue for your company, we are developing a Cloud Cost Management solution to help IT professionals migrate to a FinOps model. If you would like to know more, do not hesitate: contact us!

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