Table Of Contents
How Azure Storage Pricing Works A Simplified Breakdown Of Azure Storage Costs Azure Storage Pricing By Types Of Storage Account Pricing For Types Of Azure Storage Services 9 Azure Storage Best Practices For Understanding, Optimizing, And Reducing Costs Azure Storage Cost FAQs

If you have trouble understanding Microsoft Azure Storage pricing, you’re not alone. Azure Storage options can feel like a multi-layered maze of storage account types, tiers, pricing pages, specs — and then some.

Yet, understanding your cloud cost drivers begins with looking at where your money goes. Only then can you tell if you are getting value for your money.

That’s how you can discover exactly what steps you need to take to reduce your Azure storage costs, optimize usage, and maximize the return on your cloud investment.

In this Microsoft Azure Storage pricing guide, we’ll break down the different Azure Storage cost factors. And, yes, without the jargon. We’ll also share how Azure Storage billing works, Azure Storage cost optimization tips, and more.

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How Azure Storage Pricing Works

Pricing for storage on the Microsoft Azure public cloud is based on a pay-as-you-go model. You only pay for the resources you use. No upfront payments or long-term contracts are required.

You can access and use Azure storage resources on demand. No need to provision storage resources in advance here. This reduces the chances of over-provisioning (waste) or under-provisioning (compromising system performance).

You can, however, commit to a 1- or 3-year contract for a discount off on-demand rates if you maintain consistent storage usage.

So, how does Azure Storage billing work?

Azure Storage charges vary by the storage capacity, storage transaction numbers (read/write operations), and your data transfer volume. Here are more details about the Azure Storage billing factors:

  • Bandwidth – This refers to the data transfer rate happening where the storage account is located. A managed service and its corresponding storage can be located at the same location, enabling free bandwidth between compute and storage. You pay for bandwidth incurred from accessing storage outside of your current location.
  • Transactions – This is the number of requests that are executed on your storage account. Azure Storage considers every REST request generated for each storage service (blob, table, and queue) as billable.
  • Total capacity – This refers to the total amount of data you are keeping in persistent storage. That total includes storage for blobs, messages, entities, applications, and metadata.

But that’s only scratching the surface of Azure Storage pricing. To help you understand exactly what you pay for on Azure, here’s the full story in plain English.

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A Simplified Breakdown Of Azure Storage Costs

The exact price you’ll pay for Azure storage depends on several factors. These Azure pricing variables include:

  • Azure storage account types (General purpose, File storage, or Blob storage)
  • Types of Azure storage services (Block blob, page blob, file, table, queue, disk storage, managed disks, Data Lake Storage Gen2, NET files, Elastic SAN, etc)
  • Azure storage tiers (Premium or Standard)
  • Storage access tiers (hot, cool, or archive)
  • Storage capacity (e.g. Cost per terabyte/Month)
  • Payment option (on-demand or reserved capacity (1-year vs 3-year commitment))
  • Microsoft Azure Regions (48 regions/locations globally)
  • Data transfer charges
  • Data read, write, and retrieval fees
  • The level of redundancy you configure (6 levels – Locally Redundant (LRS), Zone Redundant (ZRS), Geo-Redundant (GRS), Read Access Geo-Redundant (RA-GRS), Geo-Zone-Redundant (GZRS), and Read Access Geo-Zone-Redundant (RA-GZRS) storages)
  • Whether you use a managed or unmanaged storage service

Several of these factors work together; others, not so much. Here’s a breakdown of each Azure Storage pricing component, so you can understand how to optimize yours.

Azure Storage Pricing By Types Of Storage Account

An Azure Storage account type determines the type of data you can store in it, how you can store it, and which features and storage options you can configure to support that. An Azure storage account creates a unique namespace for your Azure Storage data which you can access from anywhere over HTTP or HTTPS using a REST API.

The data you store in an Azure Storage Account is highly persistent, highly available, secure, and highly scalable.

There are three types of Azure storage accounts: General purpose, Blob storage, and File storage. Here’s more:

  • General-purpose v1 account: A type of legacy account supporting blobs, queues, files, and tables (more on these storage types in the next section).
  • General-purpose v2 account: The default (and Azure-recommended) storage account type, supporting blobs, queues, files, and tables.
  • Block Blob Storage account: A high-performance storage account for block blobs and appends blobs. Azure recommends it for use cases with high transaction rates, many small objects, or workloads requiring consistently low storage latency.
  • Blob Storage account: A blob-only storage option for legacy use cases. Whenever possible, use a general-purpose v2 account instead.
  • File Storage accounts: For files only, but with optimized performance for enterprise-scale usage.

Each Azure Storage Account type supports different features, as shown in the following table. Quick note: Even though you choose an Azure Storage account first, its features may not make much sense to you until you read through the rest of this guide to compare what each offers.

Azure storage account type

Azure storage services it supports

Deployment with

Redundancy options available for the account

Pricing feature

General purpose v1

Block blobs, page blobs, files, queues, tables, and disks

Classic, Resource Manager

LRS, GRS, RA-GRS

Low transaction fees; high storage costs

General purpose v2

Block blobs, page blobs, files, queues, tables, Data Lake Gen2, disks, and more

Resource Manager

LRS, GRS, RA-GRS, ZRS, GZRS, RA-GZRS

The lowest per GB storage charges.

Optimized for most workloads

Block blob storage

Block blobs, append blobs

Resource Manager

LRS, ZRS

Optimized for high transaction rates

Blob storage

Block blobs, append blobs

Resource Manager

LRS, GRS, RA-GRS

Optimized for append and block blobs

File storage

Files only

Resource Manager

LRS, ZRS

Enterprise-scale optimized

Table: A comparison of Azure Storage account type features

Again, we advise you to skip this table and read about the features in each account from the sections below first.

Pricing For Types Of Azure Storage Services

These are the core storage options on the Microsoft Azure public cloud. There used to be five main ones until recently, when Azure added a few more storage families (like Data Lake Storage Gen2):

  • Azure Blobs
  • Azure Files
  • Azure Queues
  • Azure Disks
  • Azure Tables
  • Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2

Each Azure storage family is ideal for a specific use case. Check this out:

Table

Here’s a breakdown of costs for each Azure storage service.

Pricing For Azure Blobs Storage

Blobs is short for Binary Large Objects, so it’s an object-based storage class. It is the type of Azure storage to use for massive amounts of unstructured data for cloud-native workloads (like binary data and text).

Blobs storage is also ideal for high-performance computing, archiving, and data lakes/machine learning applications.

You configure this storage type through the Azure REST API, Azure client library, Azure CLI, or Azure PowerShell. From there, you choose one of three storage options:

Block blobs storage

Azure designed this option for streaming and storing unstructured data in blocks, from binary data to text, videos, documents, backups, and pictures. Here are some features of the block blob storage option:

Features Table

Azure block blob features by storage tier

Page blobs storage

A page blob contains random access files with a maximum size of 8 TB. They store virtual hard drive files (VHDs) and serve as Azure virtual machine disks.

Append storage

Great for storing data associated with append operations. Logging virtual machine data typically use append blobs, as one example.

Overall, factors that affect Azure blob storage pricing include; the volume of data you store monthly, its file structure, Azure region, redundancy type, types and quantity of operations you perform, and data transfer fees.

Let’s look into some of these Azure blob storage cost variables.

  • Your blob storage access tier; Hot for frequently accessed data, Cool for storing less frequently accessed data for at least 30 days, or Archive for storing rarely accessed data for at least 180 days. Here are examples.
Pricing Table

Image: Azure Block blob storage on-demand pricing West US 2 Region and Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)

Azure Blob Storage Redundancy Type

Redundancy Features

Supported storage account

Supported storage type

Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)

  • 99.99% (eleven 9s) durability throughout a given year
  • Stores multiple copies of your data in one location
  • Data written synchronously to all three replicas
  • Lowest cost redundancy
  • Protects against drive and server rack failures
  • Failure at that data center leads to data loss

Standard general purpose v2 (recommended and legacy accounts)

Premium block blobs

Premium file shares

Premium page blobs

Legacy blob (legacy account type)

  • Blob
  • Page blobs
  • Table
  • Queue
  • File (Standard file shares)
  • Data Lake Storage
  • Managed disks

Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS)

  • 99.99% (twelve 9s) durability across a given year
  • Replicates your data in three separate physical locations (zones) but within the same region synchronously
  • Each zone has independent facilities to ensure high availability in case one zone fails
  • Data loss is only possible if multiple zones in the region suffer failure

Standard general purpose v2 (recommended account only)

Premium block blobs

Premium file shares

  • Blob
  • Table
  • Queue
  • File (Standard and Premium file shares)
  • Data Lake Storage
  • Managed disks

Geo-Redundant Storage (GRS)

  • 99.99% (sixteen 9s) durability over a given year
  • Uses LRS to synchronously replicate your data three times within a single physical location in your primary region
  • Then replicates it asynchronously to a single physical location in a secondary region hundreds of miles away using LRS

Standard general purpose v2 (both recommended and legacy account types)

Legacy blob (legacy account type only)

  • Blob
  • Table
  • Queue
  • File (Standard file shares)
  • Data Lake Storage

Read Access Geo-Redundant Storage (RA-GRS)

  • 99.99% (at least sixteen 9s) durability
  • Replicates data to an additional physical location within the secondary region to prevent data losses due to regional outages (six copies total)
  • Users or applications cannot directly access data in the secondary region unless a failover occurs
  • The new primary region can be read and written to after failover.

Standard general purpose v2 (both recommended and legacy account types)

Legacy blob (legacy account type only)

  • Blob
  • Table
  • Queue
  • Data Lake Storage

Geo-Zone Redundant Storage (GZRS)

  • 99.99% (sixteen 9s) durability throughout a given year for Cool or Archive access
  • Replicates data across three separate physical locations (zones) in one region, then in a secondary geographic region

Standard general purpose v2 (recommended account type only)

  • Blob
  • Table
  • Queue
  • Files (Standard file shares)
  • Data Lake Storage

Read Access Geo-Zone Redundant Storage (RA-GZRS)

  • 99.99% (at least sixteen 9s) durability
  • Supports reading your data from a secondary region when a primary region is unavailable for any reason (six copies total)
  • Read access to the secondary region becomes available after enabling RA-GRS or RA-GZRS
  • Enabling read access to the secondary will allow reading from both the primary and secondary endpoints

Standard general purpose v2 (recommended account type only)

  • Blob
  • Table
  • Queue
  • Data Lake Storage
  • Your payment option matters too (pay-as-you-go/on-demand pricing vs reserved capacity pricing)
Pricing Table

Azure block blob storage pricing with reserved capacity discounts in West US 2 Region and Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)

  • And, your operations and data transfer charges
Pricing Table

Azure Block blob storage pricing for data transfer and operations in West US 2 Region for Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)

There is also this:

Pricing Table

And, while we are still here, consider the following.

Besides the per-GB, per-month fee, any blob that moves to the Archive tier will be subject to a 180-day Archive early deletion window.

For general-purpose v2 storage accounts, moving a blob to the Cool tier offers a 30-day early deletion period. Charges are calculated pro rata here. For example, moving a blob to Archive and then deleting or moving it to Hot 45 days after subjects it to an early deletion fee for 135 (180 less 45) days of Archive tier storage.

One more thing.

Pricing for other block blob features includes $0.01/10,000 blob changes when enabled, $1 per encryption scope/month, and $0.03 per tag for blob indexing. See more about the costs of Azure Block Blob storage here.

Pricing For Azure Files Storage

This is a fully managed file-sharing option in the cloud. You can access your files via SMB and NFS protocols.

You can mount Azure Files shares concurrently in cloud or on-premises deployments of Linux, Windows, and macOS. In addition, you can cache Azure Files shares on Windows Servers using Azure File Sync, providing fast data access near the point of use.

Currently, Azure Files storage does not offer read-access geo-redundant storage (RA-GRS) or read-access geo-zone-redundant storage (RA-GZRS).

Pricing for Azure Files storage on-demand (pay-as-you-go) in the US West region with LRS redundancy is as follows:

Pricing Table

Azure Files shares pay-as-you-go pricing

Here are prices for the same Azure Files storage but with reserved capacity pricing.

Pricing Table

Azure Files shares reserved capacity pricing

Finally, here are the costs of data transfers and various operations for Azure Files storage.

Cost Table

Azure Files transactions and data transfer costs

You can find the most up-to-date cost information for Azure Files shares (and all other costs) here.

Pricing For Azure Tables

Azure designed this storage type to support NoSQL storage for semi-structured and unstructured data, such as from address books and web apps. It behaves as a NoSQL key/value store with semi-structured datasets.

Expect two pricing methods here:

1. For tables encrypted with a key that’s scoped to the service

Cost Table

Azure tables storage pricing in West US 2 Region

2. And, for tables encrypted with a key that’s scoped to the storage account

Pricing Table

Azure tables storage pricing (key scoped to storage account) in West US 2 Region

For the latest Azure tables pricing, check out this page.

Pricing For Azure Queues

Queues delivers a robust, cloud-based queues storage service. A queue comprises a group of messages, and generally stores messages that are processed asynchronously. Messages can be as large as 64 KB with a default 7-day time to live.

Sender components, such as a web or mobile app, add messages to the queue. Receiver components process messages after retrieving them from the front of the queue.

Azure Queues for a recommend account type (general purpose v1) are:

Pricing Table

Azure Queues pricing – recommended storage account type in West US 2 Region

Or, you can use the general-purpose v1 account type:

Pricing Table

Azure Queues pricing – general purpose v2 storage account type in West US 2 Region

You can find the latest updates to pricing for Azure Tables storage here.

Pricing For Azure Disks

These fully managed virtual disks deliver block-level storage and are used with Azure Virtual Machines. Many companies use managed disks to virtualize non-cloud-native workloads through a lift-and-shift migration since they are similar to physical disks on on-premises servers.

You only need to specify the disk size, type, and provision them and Azure will handle the rest. Each disk plays one of three functions in a VM:

  • Operating System Disk – In each VM, there is a disk that contains OS files. It has a maximum capacity of 2,048 GB.
  • Data Disk – Each VM can have one or more data virtual disks, for example, for database files, custom application code, or website static content. The size of a virtual machine determines how many data disks you can add to it. One data disk can store up to 32,767 GB.
  • Temporary Disk – Each VM has a single temporary disk for short-term storage, such as storing page and swap files. Do not store critical data on temporary disks. They’ll get erased during maintenance. The disks aren’t stored in a storage account; they’re local to the server.

Azure offers four types of disk storage — Standard HDD, Standard SSD, Premium SSD, and Ultra Azure Disk Storage. Azure prices managed disks to the nearest tier that fits the specific disk size, and they’re billed hourly.

Each Azure-managed disk option has unique pricing, which you can find on this page.

Pricing For Azure Page Blobs

Page blobs are sort of the opposite of managed disks — unmanaged disks. Azure designed them for random reads and writes. Page Blobs are great for scenarios where you need to overwrite random segments at a known address, like index-based data structures.

Page Blobs are accessible via the REST protocol or connected to VMs as unmanaged disks. They are billed hourly.

For precise Page Blobs pricing, see this page.

Pricing For Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2

With Azure Data Lake storage, you can scale storage and compute independently for your analytics needs, which is tough to do with on-premises data lakes. You can also tier up or down based on your usage and use Azure’s automated lifecycle management policies to save money.

With this storage option, you can ingest data at scale using a variety of tools. You can then process data with Azure Databricks, HDInsight, or Synapse Analytics. Microsoft’s Power BI helps visualize the data to ease analysis.

Check out this page for the most up-to-date Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 prices.

9 Azure Storage Best Practices For Understanding, Optimizing, And Reducing Costs

The following Azure storage cost optimization tips can help you lower your costs without compromising your system’s performance. We’ll keep them short and sweet.

  1. Understand your Azure storage requirements. These top Azure cloud monitoring tools and best practices can help you track and optimize your usage patterns.
  2. Rightsize your storage and compute to minimize waste.
  3. Once you know roughly how much storage you need, use Azure Storage reserved capacity to take advantage of commitment discounts.
  4. Terminate compute resources that you no longer need. Be sure to detach all services before terminating the resources.
  5. Delete unattached volumes (Azure managed disks) once you delete the associated compute resources. You can do this via PowerShell or Azure’s dashboard.
  6. Within your Azure Storage Account, look for “Virtual Hard Disk”. You’ll see disk properties on the overview tab. If a disk’s status is “unlocked” and its lease state is “available”, that resource is unattached to any volume. You can delete it.
  7. Automate storing less frequently accessed data in Cool storage and rarely accessed data in Archive storage for the cheapest prices.
  8. Keep less I/O intensive workloads in Standard disks instead or Premium or Ultra Disk storage.
  9. See exactly where your Azure Storage budget is going with CloudZero.
CloudZero AnyCost

CloudZero automatically aggregates, analyzes, and shares precise unit cost insights in the context you care about.

For example, CloudZero breaks down your Azure costs per individual customer, per Azure service, per product, per software feature, per team, per project, and more. This applies whether you have perfect or messy cost allocation tags.

Organize Spend By CloudZero Dimensions

You can even view your costs by environment or a specific tenant in a multi-tenant environment. CloudZero’s real-time cost anomaly detection alerts you via Slack about trending costs so you don’t go over budget or get a surprise Azure storage bill.

It’s one thing to read about CloudZero; it’s another to see it in action. to see for yourself how CloudZero can help you better understand, manage, and optimize your cloud spend.

Azure Storage Cost FAQs

What pricing model does Azure Storage use?

Azure Storage pricing is based on a pay-as-you-go model. You pay for the storage resources you use. There are no upfront payments or contracts required.

What are the factors that affect Azure Storage pricing?

There are multiple Azure Storage cost variables. The main ones are storage capacity, Azure region, storage account type, storage service type, storage access tier, data transfer fees, selected payment option, data redundancy level, and data operations (I/O) charges.

What are the six Azure Storage types?

The main Azure Storage services are Blob storage, file storage, table storage, queue storage, Managed Disks, and Data Lake Storage Gen2. Each storage service has unique pricing and use cases.

What are the differences between the three Azure storage tiers?

Hot storage keeps frequently accessed data within 30 days. Cool storage keeps less frequently accessed data for at least 30 days (cheaper than Hot storage). Archive storage hosts rarely accessed data for at least 180 days and is the cheapest.