Amazon S3 Pricing Explained

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon S3 is a service that allows you to host files of all kinds very cheaply. You can host images and podcast files to take the strain off the server that runs your website; you can hook into the API and use S3 to store data uploaded by users in a web app. You could even backup your personal files from your computer to S3. With a maximum individual file size of 5GB, it’s perfect for distributing an independent film or software.

One major point of confusion with S3 is pricing. How much does it cost, really?

  • You pay $0.15 per gigabyte stored, on a monthly basis. If you store truly massive amounts of data (upwards of 50 terabytes), you get a small per-gigabyte discount. If you have 1GB sitting on S3 for a year, you will pay $1.80 for the entire year.
  • You then pay for the amount of data transfer each month. Pricing starts at $0.17 per gigabyte transferred. (If you are able to have more than 10TB worth of data transfer each month, you will pay the first discount tier’s rates, $0.13/GB.)
  • There are very minimal charges for file management requests such as COPY, POST, and LIST. They end up being “$0.01 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests” and “$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests,” with fees waived for DELETE requests.
  • Prices vary slightly depending on the geographic locations of the datacenters. According to the FAQ page, it doesn’t matter where you live: Anybody can use S3. It’s the location of specific data that determines price.

No setup fees, no long-term contracts. Just pay-as-you-go. (Sadly, PayPal is not an option for payment.)

Amazon S3 seems to be a stable and cheap way to store various types of data. It’s trusted by large sites like Twitter, Envato, and SmugMug, among others. I would definitely consider it if I really got into something like podcasting, and didn’t want to cripple my server from large file downloads.

  • Andy

    I always enjoy learning how other people employ Amazon S3 online storage. I am wondering if you can check out my very own tool CloudBerry Explorer that helps to manage S3 on Windows . It is a freeware.

    • redwall_hp

      I'm not using S3 personally at this time, though it's something I have been considering trying sometime in the coming months. I may try your software then, if I do end up signing up for S3. It certainly looks full-featured.

  • Blaine Moore

    I've been using S3 for about a year now and it's great. Way better performance than my servers can handle for my media files, and so cheap that I barely notice the cost.

    • redwall_hp

      I'd jump right on it and sign up if they took PayPal, but I don't believe they do… I will consider it in the future though, for this or that. :)

  • Steven Snell

    I have been using S3 since last summer for images. I rarely use it now for images on new posts because the price each month was getting out of control. It's a good service and is nice to take a load off the server, but in my situation it was costing more than it was worth. I still have a lot of images on S3 and they'll probably stay there forever, but I only use it now when I have something of a large file size, like a zip file.

    • redwall_hp

      That's what I would end up using it for. Large files like zips or podcasts. Or if I was starting a project that would require storing vast amounts of user-submitted images (e.g. avatars, if we didn't already have the marvelous Gravatar.).