Cloud Updates Optimization Tips

How To Avoid Nasty Surprises From AWS Data Transfer Pricing

If you don’t take AWS data transfer pricing into account when calculating Total Cost of Ownership, you could be in for some nasty surprises when your monthly bill arrives. Avoid potential surprises by using CloudHealth’s cloud management platform to gain total visibility of your environment and control cloud costs.

Although it isn’t accurate to regard AWS data transfer pricing as a “hidden cost”, it is a cost of cloud computing sometimes overlooked by businesses looking to migrate to the cloud, or by businesses looking at ways to reduce AWS spend. Fortunately, AWS data transfer pricing isn’t difficult to understand, and AWS also provides online tools to help estimate the cost of data transfers.


AWS data transfer pricing explained

Data transfers from the Internet into most popular cloud services are free (EC2 instances, RDS instances, S3 storage) – the exceptions being when you use a public or Elastic IPv4 address – or peered VPC using an IPv6 address – to transfer data into an EC2 instance, in which case AWS data transfer pricing is $0.01 per GB. Data transfers out from these services to the Internet are charged on a sliding scale depending on the volume of data transferred (prices quoted are for U.S. East region):

Up to 1 GB per month

$0.00 per GB

Next 9.999 TB per month

$0.09 per GB

Next 40 TB per month

$0.085 per GB

Next 100 TB per month

$0.07 per GB

Greater than 150 TB per month

$0.05 per GB


AWS data transfer pricing can become complicated when data is transferred between services. Whether or not a charge is applied depends on whether data is transferred within the same Availability Zone or AWS Region. For example:

  • Data transferred between Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, Amazon ElastiCache instances and Elastic Network Interfaces in the same Availability Zone is free.
  • Data transferred between Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SES, Amazon SQS, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon EC2 instances in the same AWS Region is free.
  • There is no charge for data transferred between Amazon Redshift and Amazon S3 within the same AWS Region for backup, restore, load, and unload operations. For all other data transfers into and out of Amazon Redshift, AWS data transfer pricing applies.

If AWS data transfer pricing applies, it can vary considerably depending on the AWS Region from which data is being transferred. For example, data transfers from the U.S. East AWS Region to the Canadian AWS Region cost $0.02 per GB. However the same transfers from the Southern America AWS Region in Sao Paulo cost $0.16 per GB.

How data transfer costs on AWS can escalate quickly

One common culprit of escalated transfer costs that we see often in our customer base is an application or service that retrieves a significant amount of data from S3.  Each request may only incur a relatively small cost; but at scale this can quickly turn into large sums of money.

Other examples include applications that have a constant two-way dialogue with the Internet, and disaster recovery services that are regularly replicating business-critical data to secondary AWS Regions. Escalating data transfer costs on AWS can be mitigated by using private IP addresses and the CloudFront CDN service, but these options have their own costs.

The best way to reduce data transfer costs on AWS is to design an infrastructure in which data transfers occur within the same Availability Zone or AWS Region wherever possible, and in which the number of cross-regional data transfers is minimalized. In cases similar to the video download example provided above, maintain data in the cheapest possible AWS Region.

Tools to help control AWS data transfer pricing

Amazon provides two tools that help businesses control AWS data transfer pricing – the Total Cost of Ownership Calculator and the Simply Monthly Cost Calculator that can detail data transfer costs on AWS, provided you are aware of how much data is being transferred between assets in the same AWS region. What these tools can’t help you identify is the cost of transferring data between AWS regions.

If you need to understand what is driving increased data transfer costs, and find ways to reduce them, CloudHealth can help you get a better insight into how assets interact with each other. Your can answer questions like “What is the AWS usage for data transfer? What is the AWS usage by data transfer type (regional, inter-zone, etc.)? And Which cost reduction opportunities are available based on inter-region traffic and its sources?We provide total visibility of your infrastructure and have powerful reporting capabilities that enable you to quantify and understand everything that’s going on within your cloud environment.

Additionally, establishing a Cloud Financial Management practice can also help control cloud costs. Cloud Financial Management (CFM), also known as FinOps or Cloud Cost Management, is a function that helps align and develop financial goals, drive a cost-conscious culture, establish guardrails to meet financial targets, and gain greater business efficiencies. Learn more about establishing a Cloud Financial Management practice here