A guide to AWS storage cost

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 GB per month rate. Other factors contribute to the overall AWS storage cost, however, such as the type of storage, region, 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 (Virginia) region, which is largely representative of AWS pricing across the board.

S3 storage falls into three basic categories although there are variations within them. The first category, S3 Standard, consists of storage that organizations can use for just about any purpose.
The second category, Intelligent Tiering, is for situations in which the data usage patterns are unknown. Amazon will automatically place data in an optimal storage tier based on how organizations use it.
The third category, Glacier storage, is for archived data. Glacier storage offers the lowest cost per GB, but depending on the tier, data retrieval can take up to 12 hours.
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 (Virginia) region, for example, HDD storage costs $0.013 per GB per month, while SSD storage costs $0.13 per GB per month (without data deduplication). 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 (Virginia) region to $0.0065 per GB per month, while SSD storage cost is reduced to $0.065 per GB 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 (Virginia) region costs $0.30 per GB per month, while infrequently accessed data costs $0.016 per GB per month. Users can store archived data for $0.008 per GB per month. Amazon charges throughput and data access fees in addition to the basic storage costs.
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.

Understand how data use affects overall AWS storage costs.

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. Restoring a snapshot from archive storage costs $0.03 per GB. Amazon does not charge a fee for standard snapshot restorations.

How to deal with AWS storage costs
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.
Regularly review S3 bucket use, and clean up buckets 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 overall AWS storage costs. For example, if the organization frequently copies files to an on-premises environment or a competing cloud, data egress fees will soar. Avoid data egress fees as much as possible.

Compare AWS storage costs 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 due to 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, although many consider Google the least expensive of the three. Ultimately, though, it comes down to storage use.
Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP and a commercial astronaut candidate. In his more than 30 years in IT, he has served as a lead network engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense and as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in America.