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A guide to AWS storage cost

Amazon S3, FSx, Elastic File System and Elastic Block Store have different price structures, but data use remains the top factor in determining the cost of cloud storage.

It can be difficult to know how much it will cost to store data in AWS, so it's important to understand everything that goes into Amazon's pricing.

Amazon and other cloud providers bill their customers based on a per gigabyte per month rate. However, there are other factors that contribute to the overall AWS storage cost, such as the type of storage, access rates and potential data egress.

A rundown of AWS storage costs

S3

S3 is Amazon's object storage. The pricing for S3 is complex because it has many different tiers. In addition, Amazon determines S3 costs by region and by the volume of data. Amazon gives a discount for high-volume storage on some tiers. This chart lists the basic S3 storage costs in the U.S. East (Ohio) region, which is largely representative of AWS pricing across the board.

Chart of S3 storage costs

FSx

FSx is Amazon's Windows file server storage. Pricing is based on region, storage type (HDD or SSD), throughput capacity and backup use. In the U.S. East (Ohio) region, for example, HDD storage costs $0.013 per GB per month, while SSD storage costs $0.13 per GB per month. The throughput capacity costs $2.20 per MBps per month. Backup storage is $0.05 per GB per month.

The cost of FSx storage decreases with deduplication. Amazon's pricing assumes a savings of 50% and reduces the cost of HDD storage in the U.S. East (Ohio) region to $0.0065 per GB per month, while SSD storage cost reduces to $0.065 per month.

EFS

Amazon's Elastic File System (EFS) is a cloud-based, serverless file server for unstructured data. Amazon largely determines EFS pricing by region and data access frequency. Other factors can affect the price, such as whether the file system is in a single zone, the provisioned throughput and how the user backs up the data.

As a general guideline, standard storage in the U.S. East (Ohio) region costs $0.30 per GB per month, while infrequently accessed data costs $0.025 per GB per month. The price drops to $0.16 per GB per month for single-zone storage and to $0.0133 per month for single-zone storage that is infrequently accessed.

EBS

Elastic Block Store (EBS) is Amazon's high-performance block storage, primarily for the virtual hard disks used by Elastic Compute Cloud instances and instance snapshots. The price varies depending on storage use.

The main factor that influences the price is the volume type. Pricing ranges from $0.015 per GB per month for cold HDD (sc1) volumes to $0.08 per GB per month for general-purpose SSD (gp3) storage.

The AWS storage cost for snapshots also varies by type. Snapshots stored on standard storage incur a fee of $0.05 per GB per month, while snapshots on archive storage cost $0.0125 per GB per month. There is also a $0.03 per GB fee for restoring a snapshot from archive storage.

How to deal with AWS storage cost

First, use the appropriate type of storage based on each workload's needs. If, for example, the organization hardly ever accesses unstructured data but must keep it for compliance reasons, reduce the cost of storage by using one of the Glacier tiers, as opposed to the S3 Standard tier.

Understand how data use affects the overall AWS storage cost.

Regularly review S3 bucket use, and clean up buckets that are no longer needed. Remember, AWS bills for the data stored in S3 buckets, even if it's no longer in use.

Use AWS Cost Explorer and other billing tools to monitor how much the organization spends and avoid any surprise bills at the end of the month.

Understand how data use affects the overall AWS storage cost. For example, if the organization frequently copies files to an on-premises environment or to a competing cloud, data egress fees will soar. Avoid data egress fees as much as possible.

How AWS storage costs compare to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud

Google and Microsoft also offer several different types of cloud storage. Like with AWS, pricing varies widely based on the type of storage. Prices also tend to vary by region and possible volume discounts. As such, any one of the three cloud providers can claim to be the least expensive under the right circumstances.

The three cloud providers are all comparably priced -- usually within a few cents per gigabyte. However, many consider Google to be the least expensive of the three. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the storage use.

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