How to save $20,000 per year using the S3 Infrequent Access storage class

Let’s say you have many unloved files that are rarely accessed, for example some old media files or backups that your users read once in a while. You still want to keep the files online, therefore a service like AWS Glacier is not a viable option yet. But you want to save money.

This is a common scenario and thanks to the Standard Infrequent storage class in S3, you can save significant money. Let’s say you have 100TB of infrequently-accessed files and that each month you retrieve 1TB of data and serve 1 million GET requests on those files.

Standard Infrequent Access
Storage $2,926.11 $1250.0
Data Transfer Out $89.91 $89.91
Retrieval Fee $0 $10.0
API requests (GET) $0.40 $1.00
Total (month) $3,016.42 $1,350.91
Total (year) $36,197 $16,210

In other words, you could save around $20,000 per year by simply moving your S3 objects to the Infrequent Access storage class.

But wait…. what if my users retrieve more than 1TB of data each month?

AWS charges $0.01 per GB of data retrieved from the Infrequent Access storage class. This is on top of the usual Data Transfer charges you would expect in S3.

With this in mind, this is what your expenses would look like as your data retrieval increases (these numbers assume 100TB of stored data):

Data out per month (TB) Standard (per year) Infrequent Access (per year) Savings (per year)
1 $36,197 $16,210 $19,987
10 $45,917 $27,010 $18,907
25 $61,231 $44,125 $17,106
50 $86,731 $72,625 $14,106
100 $128,947 $120,841 $8,106
250 $231,811 $241,705 -$9,894

As you can see, if you retrieved 100TB of data per month there would still be $8,106 in yearly savings, but there is a point where you would pay more if you stored your files in the Infrequent Access storage class. At 250TB of monthly data retrieval, you would pay $9,894 more compared to the Standard storage class.

Savings based on data transfer out

Other considerations regarding the Infrequent Access storage class

  • There is is a charge of $0.01 per 1,000 conversions from Standard storage into Infrequent Access.
  • There is a minimum billable object size of 128KB, meaning objects smaller than this value will be charged for 128KB of storage. If the majority of your files are smaller than 128KB, you will want to crunch some numbers and make sure you don’t pay more due to this limitation.
  • There is a 99.9% Availability SLA, compared to 99.99% in the Standard storage class.

These numbers are based on pricing information as of March 23rd, 2016. AWS updates pricing frequently.

Ernesto Marquez


I am the Project Director at Concurrency Labs Ltd, ex-Amazon (AWS), Certified AWS Solutions Architect and I want to help you run AWS optimally, so your applications reliably generate revenue for your business.

Running an optimal AWS infrastructure is complicated - that's why I follow a methodology that makes it simpler to run applications that will grow on AWS.

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