AWS Data Transfer Costs: What You Should Know

With the cloud, it’s easy to move data where you need it. But moving data often costs money, and those AWS data transfer costs can add up quickly.

Your data is one of the most valuable assets your company has. Utilizing the cloud improves your data’s mobility and flexibility to enhance its value, but AWS data transfer costs can add up quickly. You need to understand data transfer charges and what you can do to minimize them.

What Are AWS Data Transfer Costs?

AWS data transfer costs are what AWS charges to transfer data either:

  • Between AWS and the internet
  • Within AWS between services, such as EC2 or S3

For some AWS services, the cost for moving data in or out is accounted for in the cost of the service itself, rather than billed as a separate data transfer fee. Sometimes this means that there won’t be a distinct data transfer cost in either direction, such as with Amazon Kinesis. Sometimes there will be a specific cost to move data one way (out) but not the other way (in), such as when transferring to and from AWS S3 across different regions. Other times, there will be a cost to transfer data in and transfer data out, such as when transferring data between EC2 instances in different availability zones (AZs) of the same region.

All those variables mean that controlling data transfer costs means knowing exactly how your data is moving around.

Data transfer between AWS and the Internet

Data transfer rates from AWS out to the internet are highly dependent on the region. For example, for resources located in the US West (Oregon) region, the first 100 GB per month is free, and the next 9.999 TB per month costs $0.09 per GB. However, if a resource is located in the South America (São Paolo) region, the first 100 GB per month is still free, but the next 9.999 TB per month costs $0.15 per GB.

Data transfer within AWS

Within AWS, you can transfer data across regions or within a region.

Data transfer across regions

Transferring data between AWS services across regions has the same cost structure (although the rates are a lot lower) as transferring data between AWS and the internet. These costs also depend on the region, but data transfer into an AWS region from any other AWS region is free. In other words, you only pay for the outbound transfer of the originating region, not the inbound transfer in the target region.

Data transfer within regions

Data transfer charges between AWS services within a region depend on whether you’re transferring data within or across AZs.

Data transfers are free if you remain within a region and the same availability zone, and you use a private IP address. Data transfers within the same region but crossing availability zones have associated costs.

To help you visualize how this all fits together, here’s a diagram that shows the various types of data transfer for EC2 instances. Rates are for US West (Oregon). NOTE: the $0.09 per GB charge for moving data out of AWS is up to the first 10TB per month.

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Cost-saving tips for data transfer

#1: Plan Your Route

Here are a few things to remember about data transfer costs:

  • The most expensive rates are for data transfer from AWS out to the internet.
  • There will nearly always be charges for data transfers between AWS regions.
  • There will be the same effective rates for data transfers between AZs within a region (when considering you are charged for both in and out).
  • The lowest costs are within a single AZ (zero when resources have a private IP).

Here are three ways to cut data transfer costs:

  • Design an infrastructure that flows along the least expensive routes.
  • Minimize traffic out to the internet and across regions and AZs.
  • Maximize traffic within an AZ, or at least within a region.

As we mentioned earlier, different regions have different data transfer costs. If you aren’t required to use a specific region, look at a few of them to see which offers the lowest rates.

#2: Use private IP addresses

Across the board, data transfer costs are higher with public IP or Elastic IP addresses than with a private address. Consistently using private IP addresses can drastically reduce costs.

#3: Consider Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a global content delivery network (CDN) service. Data transfers from EC2 to Amazon CloudFront cost nothing. If you move high volumes of data to your users, such as videos, images, and audio, then Amazon CloudFront can help you keep your data transfer costs down as well as reduce latency. Pricing for transfers from CloudFront to the internet depends on the region and the amount of data you transfer. Here are some of the options.

Regional Data Transfer Out to Internet (per GB)

Per Month United States & Canada Europe South Africa & Middle East Japan Australia Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, & Philippines India South America
 First 10TB $0.085 $0.085 $0.110 $0.114 $0.114 $0.120 $0.109 $0.110
 Next 40TB $0.080 $0.080 $0.105 $0.089 $0.098 $0.100 $0.085 $0.105
 Next 100TB $0.060 $0.060 $0.090 $0.086 $0.094 $0.095 $0.082 $0.090

You can see the full CloudFront pricing guide here.

#4: Experiment with the AWS simple monthly calculator

The AWS Pricing Calculator lets you try out different configurations to see how you can save the most money. It’s also an excellent way to see what variables can impact your costs immediately. For example, click on the S3 storage you want, set your region, and look at the Data Transfer section of the calculator to see what you need to consider. Try plugging in some values to get a sense of your costs.

AWS Data Transfer Costs at a Glance

This table summarizes the data transfer costs you can incur for various AWS services. If there’s a black dot, you can get charged for that transfer. Remember that data transfer OUT is data transferred from the service to the internet. Data transfer IN is data transferred to the service from the internet.

Service Data transfer in Data transfer to different AZ in region Data transfer out to other regions Data transfer out to internet Data transfer out to CloudFront
Amazon EC2 (Includes EBS)

Amazon EKS (Based off EC2 clusters)

Amazon S3

Amazon CloudFront

Amazon RDS

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Glacier

AWS Snowball

Amazon CloudSearch

Amazon SNS

Amazon SQS


AWS EC2 and S3 deep dive

EC2 and S3 are probably the two most widely used AWS services, so let’s dig into them a little deeper.

EC2: What’s free?

Within the same region, there’s no data transfer cost when you transfer data out of EC2 to:

  • Amazon S3
  • Amazon Glacier
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Amazon SES
  • Amazon SQS
  • Amazon SimpleDB

Within the same AZ, there’s no data transfer cost when you transfer data to:

  • Amazon RDS
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Amazon ElastiCache instances
  • Amazon Elastic Load Balancing
  • Elastic Network Interfaces

Regardless of the region or AZ, there’s no data transfer cost to transfer data to CloudFront or when using a private IP address. All data transfer IN to Amazon EC2 from the internet is free.

You can see the complete EC2 pricing guide here.

S3: What’s free? What’s not?

Data transfer IN to S3 from the internet is free. Data transfer OUT to CloudFront is also free. Transfer out to the internet and other AWS regions will have cost associated with it.

S3 also has various data transfer acceleration options, which cost extra. Depending on the AWS Edge location used to accelerate the data transfer, pricing varies.

S3 Transfer Acceleration pricing:

Data Transfer IN to Amazon S3 from the Internet:
Accelerated by AWS Edge Locations in the United States, Europe, and Japan $0.04/GB
Accelerated by all other AWS Edge Locations $0.08/GB
Data Transfer OUT from Amazon S3 to the Internet:
Accelerated by any AWS Edge Location $0.04/GB

You can see the complete S3 pricing guide here.

Take Control of Your Data Transfer Costs

The more insight you have into your AWS data transfer costs, the better able you’ll be to take control of them. You want to know not just what you’re spending, but how you can save money without losing any of the power the cloud gives you.

That’s where a cloud cost management or FinOps platform, like Cloudability,comes in. Using our wide variety of capabilities, everyone involved, whether they’re in finance, delivery, or IT, can work together to cut costs and increase efficiency.

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Using our True Cost Explorer, you can tie data transfer costs to a variety parameters, including services, regions and even specific team members.

Control your data transfer charges by looking for visibility into your costs with data analysis. Apptio Cloudability ingests, normalizes, and structures billing data across the major cloud providers so that you can actively manage spend and consumption to continuously improve the unit economics of the running cloud. Cloudability enables technology, finance, and business teams to optimize cloud costs and maximize the value of their public cloud strategy.

Sign up for a free trial find out how Cloudability can give your team the visibility it needs to get more from their cloud.

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