Everything you need to know about AWS S3 Pricing to avoid unexpected bill surges

Amazon Web Services have been leading the market when it comes to the cloud business for a long time now. One of the major contributors to their success is the Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud storage that they offer. S3 is one of the most used and go-to cloud storage options for major organizations because of its ease of availability, scalability, and durability. Now, in order to make wise use of this storage service, you need to know every component of the S3 Storage Pricing and understand how you are charged before you get an unexpected spike in your cloud bill all of a sudden!

We talked to one of our customers, they are a digital media platform with more than 10 million users and are making big strides with each coming day with their byte-sized news portal. We got to know their first impression about AWS S3 costs saying as they looked at the pricing charts for AWS S3 first, it appeared to be very cheap, practically minimal from a financial standpoint: less than a cent for a million queries, a few cents per GB for stored data, and a few dollars for data transport. Well, soon they realized, showing prices scaled like that is obviously a mind trap. But AWS cannot be put to blame as well, because the possibilities for S3 are unlimited. Finally, it is up to the developers and architects to make optimum use of it.

They had to dive in straight to explore the whole bunch of options S3 has to offer-

  • S3 data storage costs vary according to their region. To manage their storage costs, they had to figure out to pair the right data with the right storage class based on how the data is used. Also, sort their data by how frequently it needs to be accessed.
  • After this, as the volume of data stored in S3 buckets is likely to be variable over the course of a month, they have to keep a regular check of how AWS calculates their monthly S3 storage costs keeping in mind a lot of other parameters. Factors like if half the data isn’t frequently accessed and they are switching to Intelligent Tiering, the cost per month would be reduced by good numbers but there will be the cost of monitoring and automation. Plus, there are additional costs of S3 requests, data retrieval, and data exchanges. 
  • In the case of options from amazon S3 Query in place like Athena, price is based on the amount of data scanned. To keep the costs down they have to manage their time and organize their data correctly. So that it works with their SQL expressions and scans as little data as possible with each query.
  • AWS also offers many other services for delivering and accessing S3 data like AWS Direct Connect and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose. It has become crucial for them to be aware that these options exist and a portion of their consumption might be deducted from their total S3 expenses. 
  • They have to take care when S3 costs have exceeded a certain amount for an account or region, so they can take action and move data to a lower, less expensive tier.

All of this has been a very tedious and painstaking exercise, keeping a regular track of granular S3 charges like transfer costs, and analyze where data is being transferred to. You are charged according to the amount of data you’re moving. AWS charges you for moving data from one region to another. So, it took them a good amount of time to figure that it’s not the GET request themselves that are expensive the transfer OUT of S3 to the internet adds a lot to the total bills!

While optimizing cloud spending on AWS, their DevOps engineers found it time-consuming and hard to understand and reduce data transfer costs. To help their organization cut down all the manual effort, scope of human error and ultimately mitigate data transfer costs, we have recently launched Data Transfer Cost Visibility. Data Transfer Cost Visibility enables you to identify the resources that incur unnecessary data transfer charges by giving complete visibility of the source & destination of every single resource and service exchanging data in the form of traffic within or outside the cloud environment.

Most importantly, it gives you total visibility into the S3 services your organization is utilizing so you can make informed decisions about the most cost-effective way to organize data. As our customers are using the S3 storage services at a large scale with a huge amount of data we enable them to manage this data optimally. If your organization depends on AWS and you need help navigating S3 storage costs, just schedule a demo with us, and we will give you a complete walkthrough of it and tell you more about how it can benefit your organization.

Since AWS offers S3 services all over the world, it has several plans according to the needs of people. Now over here, we will try to educate you about the different types of S3 storage options and guide you on which one will be the best for your workload. We will also take a look at the factors that affect your overall S3 costs and how can you save on your S3 storage expense.

What are the types of S3 storage?

Not everyone is using the AWS platform for professional work or at the enterprise level. For such people, AWS offers a free usage tier option with access to 5GB of S3 storage in the Standard Storage class. To work with this storage AWS gives you 20,000 GET requests and 2,000 PUT requests. In S3 you are required to make storage buckets so that you also get 15 GB of free data transfers each month for a year.
Certain parameters determine your decision while using any type of storage. This includes how much volume do you want to store, how do you plan to access it, what will you add to it, what will you retrieve from it, and the most important factor is how quickly can you access your data. All these factors also apply when you choose an S3 storage option. Since organizations have their feet in many countries, they have to also decide where their data is duplicated and how important it is in a particular region because AWS has some cheaper storage options if reliability is not a concern.
So let us have a look at the different kinds of S3 storage types:

S3 standard storage
As the name suggests this is the most standard storage option that is provided by AWS S3. This has a simplified version of payment i.e.; you have to only pay for the storage that you are using. The benefit of this storage type is that you get instant access to the data that you have stored on the cloud. This is the ideal storage option for people who have data-driven workflow and for organizations that store customer-generated data like photos and videos.

S3 Intelligent Tiering
There might be some data that initially you use a lot and there is frequent access to it. But after some time, you may not need it that often and it is just sitting there costing you money. This is where intelligent tiering comes in and moves that data into the infrequent access tier by frequently monitoring and automating the process of moving data. This helps you save money even though you have to pay a fee for this monitoring and automation.

S3 infrequent access storage
It is not necessary that you need to frequently access the data that you have stored on the cloud. However, it might be the case that you have to access that data instantly in case something goes wrong or you need some data urgently. To store this type of data, this type of storage option is the best. The main benefit of this storage is that it is cheaper than the S3 standard storage option when it comes to just storing data but to access or retrieve your data, you have to shell out some extra money.

S3 One-Zone Infrequent Access Storage
An organization may have some data that is stored in only one region and they don’t access it frequently. For this kind of storage need, AWS gives you the option of S3 One-Zone Infrequent Access Storage which is quite cheap. But there’s a catch behind its cheap cost, you need to be aware of. The reliability of this storage type is compromised because usually data in a region is assigned to three Availability points but to save cost, they assign this kind of data to only one Availability point.

S3 Glacier Storage
There is some data that you just have to keep with yourself and can’t get rid of. This may include compliance records and things like that. You don’t have to access that data but you just need to keep it with you. This is where the S3 glacier comes into place. It is an archive storage option that is very cheap but you don’t get to access that data instantly. You have to wait for a minimum of 5 hours to access the data you store in it.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive
This is an extension of Glacier Storage. This storage option is even cheaper than the standard Glacier storage because this storage option is just like dumping your data and forgetting about it unless there is a very dire need for it. The retrieval time for the data in this storage option is a minimum of 12 hours so this option is just for archival data.

What are the factors affecting S3 storage prices?

Costs associated with data transferring
When you move data from the internet to your S3 buckets, you don’t have to pay a penny for that. Also, moving data from an S3 bucket to any service is free. But moving data from your S3 storage to the internet is a different scenario. You will be charged for that according to the amount of data you’re moving. AWS also charges you for moving data from one region to another.

Costs associated with Transfer Acceleration
If you have to quickly move data between two points that are far from each other, AWS Transfer acceleration can come in handy for you. You don’t have to get in the hassle of using any custom app or protocol. You can get speeds that are six times faster than your current transfer speed. There’s also a caveat with this as you will be charged only when AWS was able to move your data with faster speeds.

AWS Snowball
It is a petabyte-scale information transport arrangement that utilizes devices intended to safely move a lot of data in and out of the AWS Cloud. Essentially make a job in the AWS Management Console and a Snowball device will be dispatched to you automatically. Each activity incorporates the utilization of a Snowball device and for the first 10 days of on-site usage, you don’t have to pay anything. From that point forward, there’s a little charge for extra on-location days. Information move into AWS is free, while move out is valued by region. Besides all this, you have to also pay job fees and shipping fees.

AWS S3 Query in Place Costing

The tools that allow you to examine and analyze large amounts of data in the cloud are one of Amazon S3’s best features. Query in Place eliminates the need to export data, analyze and process it, and then re-import it into S3. S3 Select, Amazon Athena, and Amazon Redshift Spectrum are the three services available.

Amazon Athena S3 Costs
You may use conventional SQL expressions to analyze S3 data with Amazon Athena. You only pay for the queries you run because Athena is a serverless service. The amount of data scanned in each query determines the pricing, which is $5 per TB scanned. Because Athena price is based on the amount of data scanned, the key to keeping costs down is to organize your data correctly so that it works with your SQL expressions and scans as little data as possible with each query.

Costs associated with S3 select requests
AWS only provides you with PUTS and GETS requests in the free usage tier and that too is a limited amount of these requests. For using other requests and exceeding the number of GETS and PUTS requests you have been provided with you have to pay a charge fixed by AWS. This charge depends on the requests and the data it is being applied to.

Amazon Redshift Spectrum S3 Costs
Amazon Redshift Spectrum is built to conduct queries against exabytes of data using SQL. It’s billed by the amount of data scanned, like Amazon Athena, for $5 per TB scanned. You can also control your costs by compressing your data and converting it to columnar formats like Apache Parquet, just like Athena. Redshift Spectrum is frequently used as part of a larger Redshift installation. As a result, the regular charges of using Redshift nodes will be included in any Redshift Spectrum S3 expenses.

Using Other AWS Services with S3

AWS also offers many other services for delivering and accessing S3 data. It’s crucial to be aware that they exist and that a portion of their consumption might be deducted from your total S3 expenses.

AWS Direct Connect
If you have to access direct ports into the AWS data centers that too at a very fast speed, AWS Direct Connect gives you the option to create a dedicated network for that purpose. You have to pay for using this service according to the data you have transferred and also, you’re charged hourly for every port. AWS Direct Connect is compatible with a lot of AWS services like S3, EC2, DynamoDB, etc.

Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose
It is a handy tool for those people who need to stream data as it helps them to store this streamed data into data stores including S3 buckets, Lambda, and more. As the pattern suggests, here also you have to pay for the data that you have used while streaming, and the cost is charged by rounding up the data to the nearest 5KB. For example, if you use 3232KB of data you will be charged for 3235KB.

How can you manage your S3 costs?

Amazon realizes that since its customers are using the S3 storage services at a large scale and ingesting a huge amount of data they will also need to manage this data. For this, they provide storage management solutions that can help you analyze, manage and tag your data. However, this service is not free and you have to pay for it. AWS CloudWatch and AWS CloudTrail are examples of such services that are initially free of cost but as your usage and management increase, they start charging you. For the better usage of your S3 environment, AWS has given its users tools like S3 Inventory, S3 Object Tagging, and S3 analytics which help them in managing their S3 storage.

S3 Analytics Storage Class Analysis:
Storage Class Analysis allows you to keep track of how often your S3 bucket’s objects are accessed to shiftless frequently-used storage to a lower-cost storage class. S3 Analytics costs $0.10 per million monitored items per month. For further information, see Amazon S3 Analytics – Storage Class Analysis in the AWS documentation.

Amazon S3 inventory is a planned alternative to the Amazon S3 synchronous List API action and produces a flat-file list of your items and metadata. S3 Inventory billing is dependent on the number of items listed and is billed at $0.0025 per million items listed.

S3 Object Tagging:
You can manage and control access to S3 objects with Amazon S3 Object Tagging. S3 object tags are key-value pairs that can be added to, changed, or removed from S3 objects at any moment during their lifespan. At $0.01 per 10,000 tags per month, S3 Object Tagging is priced by the number of tags. Take a look at the AWS documentation on Object Tagging for further information.

Need more help?

Your final S3 costs depend on a bunch of different pieces, which can make AWS S3 seem very complicated. This is where OpsLyft’s cloud cost management platform comes into role. We empower your developer to choose the right type of S3 storage and with that, we can even help you manage your S3 storage and make your workflow efficient and in these trying times help you cut down your AWS cloud bills. With the help of our AIOps framework, we optimize the infrastructure of organizations and help them cut costs.

Nonetheless, we are coming again next week with the exact strategies for you to cut down on your AWS S3 Costs, see ya!

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