AWS S3 Cloud Cost Best Practices

AWS S3 cloud costs can get tricky as you need to understand different types of storage and operations that impact cloud storage costs. Determining what impacts these costs can provide users with insights into extra charges apart from the cost of storing digital objects and enhancing cloud efficiency.

What are AWS S3 Storage Classes? 

Enterprises need a large amount of data to function. Your enterprise will typically fall on to a continuum of how often that data is accessed. The range goes from one end where data is continually being accessed, altered, or deleted. At the other end, there is compliance, regulatory, or other archival data that will not be used for a large amount of time, months to years.

Amazon S3 provides six storage classes. They possess unique availability, performance requirements, and durability.

  • S3 Standard
  • S3 Intelligent-Tiering
  • S3 Standard Infrequent Access (IA)
  • S3 One Zone – Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone-IA)
  • S3 Glacier
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive

S3 Standard

S3 Standard is usually the go-to option. This is because it is created so users can access data often. S3 is adjustable and supportive due to its low latency and high throughput.

S3 Intelligent Tiering

Intelligent Tiering operates through monitoring and automation abilities to optimize the transfer of data between a frequent-access (FA) and an infrequent-access (IA) model. The purpose of S3 intelligent tiering monitors your application so you do not pay for FA data that is not being used. You will receive anticipated costs if your data access methods change. You can choose between monthly monitoring and auto-tiering fees, with no data retrieval fees. 

S3 Standard- Infrequent Access (IA)

S3 Standard-IA is great for data storage that is accessed less frequently compared to data in S3 Standard, although still needs fast access when required. It’s fitting for the long-term storage of backups. It typically can be used for data storage for emergency recovery. It is cheaper  than S3 Standard, but still has data retrieval expenses.

S3 One Zone- Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone- IA)

The S3 One Zone – Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone- IA) stores data in a single AWS Availability Zone (AZ). It is different from the other S3 classes because it was created to be adaptable to the tangible loss of an AZ, this can be caused by a hurricane, earthquake, etc. This would be perfect for you if you don’t require extra protection due to your geographical location.  This S3 class is 20% cheaper than S3 Standard-IA.

S3 Glacier

This S3 purpose is long-term, rarely accessed data. Typically needed for end-of-lifecycle data that are not able to be deleted due to compliance and regulatory requirements. You can reacquire your data at different speeds.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive

Glacier Deep Archive is the cheapest S3, it’s purpose is long-term retention and digital maintenance of data that is not regularly accessed. It is most popular for highly-monitored industries that have to preserve data sets for supervisory compliance. 

Amazon S3 Storage class characteristics

AWS S3 Basic Costs

Amazon S3 Data Storage Costs

S3 data storage costs are different depending on the region they are located in. The table below demonstrates the costs of the S3 classes in the US West (Northern California) region:

The main aspect of provisioning storage costs is to match the correct data with the correct storage class with how the data is utilized. The best way to do this is to examine your data and determine how frequently accessed to determine if you need S3 Standard. Then, if you don’t need S3 Standard, you choose between S3 Standard-IA or One Zone-IA and Glacier. If your data can easily be renewed or is repetitive, the best choice for you could be One Zone-IA. Glacier storage is a great option if you are looking for long-term storage. The best way to determine your decision is by looking at how you use your data currently. If you need help governing your data’s organization within IA storage or Standard, S3 Intelligent-Tiering could be for you.

Amazon S3 Data Relocation Expenses

AWS data relocation expenses are determined by how much data needs to be relocated from S3 to the Internet (Data Transfer Out), in addition to the data being relocated between AWS regions (Inter-Region Data Transfer Out). Moving data between S3 services in alike regions have no cost. The cost for internet data relocations look like this In the Us West (Northern California) region:

Relocating data to different regions comes with expenses, but they are much cheaper than the internet. If you need to relocate the data to CloudFront, there is no cost.

Amazon Transfer Acceleration 

Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration allows the quicker transfer of files over far ranges between your user and your Amazon S3 bucket. It’s simple to use and there is no customization. AWS intelligent routing enables quicker data transfers. Transfer Acceleration has a control that if AWS does not move the data packet quicker, you don’t have to pay for premium. You can preview the effects of data transfer acceleration on AWS’ Speed Comparison page.

Transfer Acceleration pricing is added to data transfer fees and does is not specific to a region

Transfer acceleration operates with Edge Locations that are a piece of CloudFront. Your cost depends on the Edge Location you chose. 

AWS Snowball 

This S3 is a petabyte-scale data storage tool that operates with devices created to transfer massive quantities of data in and out of the cloud. To do this, construct a job in the AWS Management Console, and a Snowball tool will then be sent to you. Using Snowball devices for every job has no cost for 10 days of onsite utilization. Transferring data into AWS has no cost, however, the price transferring data out is determined by region. Also, you need to take into consideration the job and shipping fees. 

AWS S3 Query in Place Pricing

Amazon S3 enables users to examine and handle massive quantities of data in the cloud. Query in Place disposes of the demand to transfer data out, examine, and handle data. You are also able to transfer it back to S3. To do this you can work with S3 Select, Amazon Athena, and Amazon Redshift Spectrum. 

Amazon S3 Select Request Expenses

Expenses for S3 Select is based on request. Requests are Put, Copy, Post, List, Get, and Select. Expenses will differ depending on which region you are in.

Amazon Redshift Spectrum S3 Expenses

This S3 is created to operate with SQL to perform queries opposite to exabytes of data. Similarly to Amazona Athena, your spending is based on the quantity of data scanned. It costs $5 per TB scanned. Besides, you can manage your costs by condensing your data and changing it to columnar formats like Athena.  

Since Redshift Spectrum and Athena are comparable as they share similar functions. You need to determine if you would use Redshift as a data warehouse. 

AWS S3 Storage Management 

AWS gives users multiple services to provision your storage. They consist of AWS Object Lifecycle Management, inventory, analytics, and object tagging.

Take Advantage of Lifecycle Management 

This tool enables users to set up data disposal or migration from types of S3 storage to reduce storage expenses in the long run. 

Object Lifecycle movements are arranged into Transaction Actions and Expiration Actions.   There are no expenses for Expiration Actions, but there are expenses for Transaction actions.

How to handle Glacier Requests with Lifecycle Managements

Life Cycle management can be used to inform Amazon S3 to transfer objects to a different S3 class. If you need to do this constantly you will need more storage to store metadata. You need to keep in mind the fees for data retrieval and the speed of retrieval. 


Amazon S3 inventory gives files of your metadata and objects. The cost depends on the number of objects listed. The cost is $0.0025 per million objects listed.

S3 Analytics Storage Class Examination

This S3 service allows you to provision how frequently you access objects in your S3 service to transport smaller frequently-access storage to a storage class that costs less. 

S3 Analytics costs $0.10 per million objects provisioned per month.

S3 Object Tagging

This S3 allows you to provide appropriate access to S3 objects. S3 object tags are applied to S3 objects and they can be designed, updated, or removed at any point in the lifetime of an object.

S3 Object Tagging costs are based on the number of tags at $0.01 per 10,000 tags per month.

AWS Services paired with S3

If you need more choices for transferring data Amazon has a few other services. These services have different costs that are intertwined with other Amazon services.

AWS Direct Connect 

This S3 tool incorporates a strong network to access direct ports in AWS data centers at impressive velocities. Direct Connect can be consumed by EC2, DynamoDB, VPC, and S3. The expense for direct connect is the cost per port per hour and how much data is moved.  

Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose

Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose supplies streaming data into data stores. The cost comes from the amount of data consumed. This is determined by the number of data records you ship to the service multiplied by the capacity of each record rounded up to the nearest 5KB. 

Managing your AWS S3 spend

Amazon S3 is a complex and intricate system. Understanding the use cases of the different storage types allow you to map your storage size and access needs to the correct S3 offering.  You need to be in control of your services to avoid incurring unnecessary expenses. Going through the process of cloud cost optimization is essential to determine what the best cloud storage management plan is for you.