AWS EBS: Amazon Cloud Storage Pricing Explained

5 Min Read

Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud storage pricing varies depending on which of the three storage services you use—object storage (S3), block storage (EBS), or file storage (EFS). 

In previous articles, we shared the seven factors that affect Amazon S3 pricing and how to choose the right S3 storage class for your performance and pricing needs. In this article, we explain what Amazon EBS is and how pricing is calculated to help you avoid paying for unnecessary cloud costs.

What is Amazon Elastic Block Store?

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is a high-performance, block storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for a broad range of workloads, including relational and non-relational databases, applications, and containers. Common use cases include: 

  • Enterprise and mission-critical applications
  • Relational databases
  • Business continuity/data recovery
  • NoSQL databases
  • Big data analytics engines
  • File systems and media workflows

How much does AWS EBS cost?

Understanding EBS pricing is less complicated than S3 storage pricing, but you still need to take care to avoid paying too much and to ensure you provision the right resource for the workload assigned to it. 

Your Cheat Sheet to Amazon Cloud Storage Pricing

With EBS, you pay for what you provision. This means if you provision a block storage volume with 10GB of capacity, you will pay for 10GB of capacity whether you use it or not—and whether or not it’s attached to a running instance.

Certain types of EBS volumes allow you to provision additional IOPS and throughput beyond the free baseline performance level. Again, you will be billed for this higher level of performance whether it is used or not. It’s also important to know you’ll be charged for EBS snapshots, storing the data in an S3 bucket, and cross-region data transfers if applicable.

In addition to the amount of data and the service level provisioned, there’s one further pricing variable for each EBS option: the region where the instance attached to the EBS volume is deployed. Regional prices can vary by nearly 90% within the U.S. and by 125% globally, so it’s very important to compare regions suitable for storing your data. For some applications, there may be no implications for where your data is stored and therefore the cheapest region should be selected.

How to Accelerate Your AWS Cloud Journey to Reach Cloud Maturity

What are the different types of EBS volumes?

There are four types of EBS volumes to choose from depending on your workload’s performance, latency, and accessibility needs. 

EBS provisioned IOPS SSD (Type io1/io2)

Type io2 EBS storage is the highest performance EBS storage option. Backed by solid-state drives, Type io2 EBS storage is designed for IOPS-intensive and throughput-intensive workloads that require extremely low latency. The previous generation, io1, is also still available at the same price point as io2, but with significantly less IOPS/GB performance. 

EBS general purpose SSD (Type gp2/gp3)

Type gp3 is the latest generation of general-purpose SSD-based EBS volumes. The upgrade from Type gp2 to gp3 allows users to provision IOPS and throughput independent of storage capacity and receive up to a 20% lower cost per gigabyte.

Previously, developers had to provision block storage volumes that met both the performance and storage needs of the workload, often resulting in overprovisioning for one of the two. Now, users can scale IOPS and throughput without needing to provision additional block storage capacity.

Throughput optimized HDD (Type st1)

Throughput optimized HDD block storage is designed for frequently-accessed, throughput-intensive workloads, and is suitable for development and testing environments. Note in the table below, the max throughput of Type st1 is twice that of Type gp2 at less than half the price.

Cold HDD (Type sc1)

Cold HDD EBS storage is ideal for less frequently-accessed workloads and the kind of data processing jobs you might save for spot instance availability. Despite being the lowest cost EBS storage type, Cold HDD EBS storage can burst up to 80MB/s per TB to a maximum throughput of 250MB/s per volume. The types of applications suitable for Cold HDD EBS storage may also be good candidates for lower cost geographical regions.

For a quick visual comparison of the different Amazon EBS volume types and their associated prices, see the table below:

Another point to note is that AWS offers a free tier that includes 30GB of storage, 2 million I/Os, and 1GB of snapshot storage for 12 months with any combination of General Purpose (SSD) or HDD AWS EBS volumes. More info here

For more information on how Amazon cloud storage pricing is calculated to avoid paying unnecessary cloud costs, see our complete guide: The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Cloud Storage Pricing

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Lauren van der Vaart, Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Lauren is a member of the Digital Marketing team at CloudHealth by VMware. She focuses on delivering valuable, relevant, and actionable content for customers on their cloud journey. Before joining CloudHealth, Lauren held various roles across digital and field marketing for global technology organizations.

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