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S3 Pricing Explained: How To Understand Your S3 Storage Costs

This guide provides an in-depth look at Amazon’s pricing for S3 and how to calculate your S3 Storage costs — including a list of S3 pricing FAQs.

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Curious how Amazon calculates your S3 Storage Costs? Or maybe you’re wondering how you can track, manage, and minimize your AWS S3 Storage bills? 

This guide provides an in-depth look at Amazon’s pricing for S3 and how to calculate your S3 Storage costs. We’ll cover all the billable elements, and the specific factors that affect S3 Storage pricing. Then, we’ll provide cost optimization recommendations that you can use to minimize your costs.  

Table Of Contents 

How Amazon S3 Pricing Works - How To Calculate S3 Storage Costs

AWS S3 offers a separate pricing schedule for each of its six components:

  • Storage 
  • Requests and data retrievals 
  • Data transfer
  • Management and analytics
  • Replication
  • S3 Object Lambda 

All these elements have to be considered when calculating your total S3 Storage costs. You should expect the platform itself to ultimately work out your monthly rates based on:

  • The amount of data (in Gigabytes) that you store. 
  • The number of data retrieval operations that you execute. Amazon typically factors in requests like SELECT, GET LIST, POST, COPY, PUT, etc. 
  • The data transfer modes and regions. 
  • The types of storage management and analytics tools that you choose to adopt. 
  • The number of transitions between different classes. 
  • The amount of data processed by S3 Object Lambda. 
  • Where your Amazon S3 servers are positioned. 

It’s worth noting, Amazon S3 does have a free plan — when you sign up as a new user, you are qualified for its AWS Free Tier, which comes with 5GB worth of Amazon S3 Storage. 

You’ll also receive S3 Standard Storage buckets with the capacity to support up to 20,000 GET Requests per month  — along with 2,000 LIST, POST, COPY, or PUT Requests. Amazon further tops the package off with a Data Transfer Out allowance of up to 15 GB per month. 

It’s not much for the typical enterprise user — but it gives companies a base to start with. When you’re ready to move to paid pricing, here’s how each of the core AWS S3 Storage components will influence your overall S3 costs. 

A Simplified Breakdown Of S3 Storage Costs

Storage is the most important cost factor. Amazon fundamentally charges its S3 customers based on the amount of storage space they choose to use. 

While S3 Storage costs are evaluated in GBs per month, the unit rates are not uniform across the board. Rather, they vary according to region, total data volume, storage period, and, most importantly, storage class. 

Amazon groups its S3 Storage buckets into six primary classes — each with its own unique rates and purpose. They include: 

  • S3 Standard Storage
  • S3 Standard - Infrequent Access Storage
  • S3 One Zone - Infrequent Access Storage
  • S3 Glacier Storage
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive
  • S3 Intelligent Tiering Storage

Storage Class #1: S3 Standard Pricing

S3 Standard Storage is the default storage class for S3 users. It offers a high throughput and low latency, which make its buckets perfectly ideal for a vast array of use cases that require frequent data access. 

You can, for instance, leverage S3 Standard Storage for data-intensive applications that hold user-generated content — such as videos and photos. 

This, in fact, is the type of S3 Storage that Amazon has built into its AWS Free Tier. Then as you transition to the premium level, you can choose between three S3 Standard Storage tiers — whose rates vary based on your data volume and storage region. 

US-based buckets are the cheapest, as the First 50 TB of data per month will cost you $0.023 per GB. The Next 450 TB, on the other hand, is priced at $0.022 per GB, while each GB Above 500 TB per month will have you paying $0.021. 

Storage Class #2: S3 Standard - Infrequent Access Pricing

While this class shares a lot of similarities with the default S3 Standard Storage buckets, it’s contrastingly optimized for occasional data access. This is where you place applications that don’t have to be accessed that frequently — but may require quick retrieval when the need arises. 

As such, S3 Standard Infrequent Access is ideal for backups, long-term storage, and business continuity applications. 

Whichever way you choose to use it, expect to pay a universal rate of $0.0125 per month for every GB of data hosted on US-based servers. While S3 Storage costs here are much lower, you’ll be charged extra for every data access or retrieval instance. 

Storage Class #3: S3 One Zone - Infrequent Access Pricing

When you upload data to AWS S3 Storage, the standard practice is, Amazon distributes it all between at least three availability zones within your selected region. 

This is a great way to ensure durability, redundancy, and high availability across all the S3 Standard Storage classes — including Infrequent Access buckets. 

As for S3 One Zone Storage, however, the approach is very different. Instead of working with multiple availability zones, Amazon places all the data in just one zone. 

This makes it suitable for infrequently accessed data which, although it may require fast retrieval, happens to be capable of coping with low availability rates. 

For that limitation, Amazon in turn charges 20% less than what you’d have paid for S3 Standard Infrequent Access Storage. This translates to $0.01 per GB per month for every GB of data held within the US region. 

Storage Class #4: S3 Glacier Pricing

Unlike the other three classes that we’ve just explored, AWS S3 Glacier Storage is incapable of quick data retrieval. You should, instead, give yourself an allowance of up to five hours to complete the whole process. 

As such, this S3 Storage class is normally intended for long-term data archiving. You could, for instance, use it as an archive for non-essential compliance data. 

This whole setup makes it considerably cheap — with the monthly S3 Storage costs starting at $0.004 per GB. 

Storage Class #5: S3 Glacier Deep Archive Pricing

S3 Glacier Deep Archive stretches out the storage time even further to facilitate longer data archiving periods. And although the subsequent retrieval requests may take up to 12 hours to resolve, you’re at least guaranteed much better cloud savings than with normal S3 Glacier Storage. 

For instance, in the U.S. region, S3 Glacier Deep Archive users pay a monthly rate of only $0.00099 per GB of data. That’s a fair deal for organizations with large volumes of data archives that may only need to be retrieved once or twice a year. 

Storage Class #6: S3 Intelligent Tiering Storage Pricing

This class optimizes your AWS cloud costs through a dynamic blend of frequent and infrequent access zones. Amazon basically capitalizes on automation and monitoring to intelligently move data between the two types of tiers. 

In other words, you get to retain the convenience of frequent access while, at the same time, reaping the cost benefits of infrequent access. Essential applications are kept close to be retrieved consistently, and non-essential data is held on infrequently accessed zones. 

In the meantime, Amazon will charge you regular S3 Storage costs based on the resources that you happen to use. 

For instance, frequently accessed data that runs on US-based S3 Standard Storage should accrue a monthly bill of $0.023 per GB for the first 50 TB and so forth, while Deep Archive Access Tier instances would, on the other hand, be evaluated separately on their normal monthly usage rates of $0.00099 per GB. 

Amazon’s billing doesn’t stop there, though. You should, additionally, expect monthly charges for all the automation and monitoring that comes with S3 Intelligent Tiering — while, in the meantime, you’ll be exempted from all the data retrieval costs. 

Additional Costs Associated With S3 Storage

Storage is only one component that influences your S3 costs. There are also supplementary charges associated with each of these five components:

  • Data Requests and Retrievals
  • Data Transfer
  • Management and Analytics
  • Storage Replication 
  • S3 Object Lambda

Here are their respective cost details: 

1. Amazon S3 Requests and Data Retrieval Costs 

These two processes are usually grouped into one collective cost component because S3 Data Retrieval is considered to be a form of S3 Request. 

Other common S3 Requests include Lifecycle Transitions, SELECT, GET, LIST, POST, COPY, and PUT. Each of these operations has its own set of charges, which are ultimately added to your S3 Storage costs based on your tier class, request types, and volume of requests. 

If, for example, you get started on the AWS Free Tier, you can enjoy up to 2,000 LIST, POST, COPY, or PUT Requests for free — along with an allowance of 20,000 GET instances. 

These benefits are eventually dropped when you upscale to some of the premium packages. S3 Standard Storage in the US, for instance, has an additional charge of $0.005 for every 1,000 instances of PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST. 

S3 Standard Infrequent Access, on the other hand, has a charge of $0.01 for the same quota of S3 Requests, while S3 Glacier Deep Archive stretches up to $0.05. 

Otherwise, DELETE and CANCEL are free for all users, while Data Retrievals are only billed on Infrequent Access S3 Storage tiers. 

If you’re running US-based S3 Glacier Deep Archives, for example, every 1,000 instances of bulk Data Retrievals will add $0.025 to your S3 Storage Costs. But then again, that’s almost nothing compared to the $10 charge that Amazon applies if you choose to expedite the same volume of retrievals on the S3 Glacier tier. 

2. AWS S3 Data Transfer Costs

Amazon is only charges for outbound data transfers. While moving data from the web to S3 Storage buckets is completely free of charge, taking data out attracts fees at different rates. 

More specifically, the unit charges depend on the amount of data transferred, source and destination locations, as well as the data transfer speeds. 

The only exception here applies to small-scale users who send out up to 1 GB of data per month. Amazon generously allows them to get away with zero charges on the data transfers. 

If you happen to exceed that, however, expect to pay $0.09 for every GB of data transferred out — up to a limit of 9.999 TB per month. The next 40 TB is even cheaper, as the cost per GB drops to $0.085. Then the subsequent 100 TB pushes the unit rates down to $0.07, followed by $0.05 for every GB above the next 150 TB quota. 

Amazon doesn’t stop there, though. If you’re in a hurry, you could opt for accelerated transfers for an extra charge of at least $0.04 per GB. 

3. AWS S3 Management and Analytics Costs

Some of the functionalities that commonly bump up S3 Storage costs include S3 Object Tagging, S3 Storage Lens, S3 Storage Class Analytics, and Amazon S3 Inventory. Each of these enhancements attracts a unique unit rate for every one million items. 

If you go for S3 Storage Lens, for example, the advanced metrics will incur a monthly charge of $0.20 for every one million objects. S3 Analytics Storage Class Analysis, on the other hand, would have you paying $0.10 for every 1 million items monitored per month. Then S3 Inventory features would ultimately increase your S3 Storage costs at the rate of $0.0025 per million objects listed. 

4. AWS S3 Replication Costs

AWS S3 Replication is the process of reproducing exact copies of your S3 Storage data. The data is mirrored internally from its AWS S3 source to the destination S3 Storage. This, of course, consumes additional resources, which should automatically translate to extra cloud usage costs. 

It’s worth noting, however, that in most cases, you won’t find any special pricing rates for such replications. Instead, you'll notice that Amazon tends to bill S3 replications as regular S3 usage instances, with slight differences based on the data transfer modes used. 

Same Region Replication (SRR) is the cheapest, as the resultant charges are derived directly from the regular S3 Storage costs. 

The replication target itself attracts the standard S3 Storage costs, which are subsequently combined with the data transfer fees from the PUT requests performed during replication — and then for people dealing with Infrequent Access tiers, AWS throws in even their data retrieval charges. 

All these figures are consequently added to the primary copy S3 Storage Costs to establish the total cloud usage bill. 

Now, while that in itself may end up in a steep cost increment, it can get worse for Cross Region Replication (CRR) instances. Unlike what we’ve seen with SRR, CRR forces you to additionally pay for inter-region data transfer from S3 to each target region. 

5. AWS S3 Object Lambda Costs 

AWS S3 Object Lambda is a robust resource that works seamlessly with your existing applications to facilitate the processing of your S3 data. By leveraging AWS Lambda functions, it automatically reworks data retrieved from S3 Storage, and then transforms it to enhance adaptability. 

In other words, it systematically converts your S3 data into a form that can be easily viewed and processed by previously incompatible applications. You just need to add your own custom code, and Object Lambda will proceed to work its magic on the data retrieved from S3, before returning the processed version to your application. 

This entire process has a fee of $0.005 per GB of data returned, which is ultimately added to your Amazon S3 Storage costs. 

Amazon S3 Storage Costs FAQs

With the basics of Amazon S3 Storage costs out of the wat, here are clarifications and insights into issues that might arise as you start your S3 Storage Costs optimization journey: 

Are there any calculators that can help with calculating S3 costs?

The good news is, yes — Amazon S3 Storage cost calculators are available. 

Amazon itself provides a free one on the AWS cloud platform, which you can use to automatically work out your monthly billing estimates before proceeding with the service. 

The kicker, however, is Amazon’s Calculator isn’t that straightforward. Although it touts itself as a simple monthly calculator, it comes with deeply technical data fields that might seem confusing to beginners. 

What are the components of S3 storage?

Amazon’s S3 Storage costs are influenced by these six core components: 

  • Storage 
  • Requests and data retrievals.
  • Data transfer
  • Management and analytics
  • Replication
  • S3 Object Lambda

What are the best cost optimization practices for AWS S3? 

To strategically minimize your S3 Storage costs, you should consider these cost management techniques 

  • Choose the ideal Amazon S3 Storage Classes - As you get started with your cloud strategy, it’s important to familiarize yourself with all six S3 Storage classes. Learn the use cases that each of them is suitable for, and then select the appropriate tiers for your specific data types and applications. 
  • Establish application requirements - To determine the most cost-effective S3 Storage architectures for your enterprise operations, you need to understand the performance and data access requirements for each application. 

For instance, ecommerce applications require highly available repositories that support frequent access, while backup applications should be fine with infrequent access archives. 

  • Organize your data - Poorly structured data often leads to the haphazard acquisition of cloud resources. That’s how you find yourself accruing wasted spending on underutilized S3 Storage instances and provisions. 

The best way to mitigate such problems is to organize data accordingly. Identify the specific items that you intend to keep on Amazon S3, and then get rid of the rest. You should also try to streamline the whole cloud database by grouping data by their object tags, name prefixes, or S3 buckets. 

  • Use a cloud cost intelligence platform - There’s only one way that you can be certain about the most appropriate cost optimization measures you should take. To make any informed product or engineering decisions, you need to have complete insight into your costs. 

Amazon offers several built-in tools that can help (like AWS Cost Explorer) — but cost insight is limited.

Using a platform like CloudZero, you can see precisely how costs connect to business outcomes — versus simply seeing how much you spend each month on your AWS bill.

CloudZero also gives engineering teams the ability to drill into cost data from a high-level down to the individual components that drive cloud spend — so teams can see exactly what AWS services cost them the most and why.

Ultimately, CloudZero gives engineers the ability to see the cost impact of their work and enables teams to make cost-aware decisions that ensure profitability. Request a demo today to see how it works.

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