AWS snapshots

Understanding AWS Snapshot Pricing: Data Transfer and Storage Costs

[Cloud Volumes ONTAP, Data Protection, AWS, Backup and Archive, Elementary, 5 minute read, AWS snapshots]

AWS snapshots, also known as EBS snapshots, are a commonly used tools to backup and restore data on Amazon EC2. AWS snapshot pricing can become a significant part of your cloud services bill, so it is important to understand and watch costs. Snapshot pricing comprises two parts: data transfer fees, and storage costs on Amazon S3, which are different from standard S3 pricing.

In this post, we’ll explain snapshot considerations that affect price, list AWS snapshot pricing for both data transfer and storage, and provide practical examples to help you understand the pricing model. We’ll also show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you reduce storage and data transfer costs.

In this article, you will learn:

What Are AWS EBS Snapshots?

Amazon EC2 instances have a local hard disk, but all data stored on that disk is lost when an instance shuts down. Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Storage) provides persistent storage volumes that can be attached to an EC2 instance. EBS volumes let you store data beyond the lifetime of a specific instance.

An EBS snapshot, sometimes called an AWS snapshot, is a way to backup and recover the data on an EBS volume. You can generate a snapshot of an EBS volume to create a point-in-time backup of the data stored on the volume.

There are a few key points to know about EBS snapshots that will affect your costs:

  1. Data transfer to S3—snapshots are stored on Amazon S3. When you create a snapshot, you may incur charges for transferring the data to S3, and thereafter, pay for ongoing storage of the snapshot.
  2. Incremental backups—the first time you save an EBS snapshot, a full copy of the data is transferred to S3. The next time you save a snapshot of the same volume, an incremental backup is taken—only the data that has changed since the last snapshot is saved on S3. This can act to reduce your storage costs.
  3. Snapshots are region specific—you specify which region to save your EBS snapshot to, and it cannot be accessed from another region. To make an EBS snapshot available in additional regions, you must copy it to those regions. This incurs data transfer costs and requires you to pay for ongoing storage of the snapshot again, for each region you copy it.
  4. Encrypted volumes don’t offer incremental backups—if you encrypt your EBS data, you have to create a full backup of the EBS volume each time you create a snapshot. This increases snapshot sizes, data transfer and storage costs.

AWS EBS snapshots have two price components: data transfer and storage costs. Below we list and explain the current costs, but keep in mind we cannot cover all price combinations, and prices on AWS frequently change. Consult the EBS official pricing page for up-to-date pricing and additional details.

AWS Snapshots: Data Transfer Costs

When you create a snapshot of an EBS Volume, Amazon transfers the data intended to be saved in the snapshot from Amazon EC2 to an S3 bucket in an Amazon region of your choice.

Data transfer costs are $0.01 per GB for the US East (N. Virginia) region and $0.02 per GB for all other supported Amazon regions.

AWS Snapshots: Storage Costs

EBS snapshots have a flat storage cost of $0.05 per GB-month in the US-East region. In other regions prices vary slightly, for example in the EU (London) region the price is $0.053.

This is substantially more expensive than the S3 Standard storage tier, which costs between $0.021-0.023 per GB-month (in the US-East region). S3 Glacier (cold storage tier) is currently not supported for EBS snapshots.

Are EBS Snapshot Costs Related to EBS Volume Types?

EBS Volumes are provided in several types, with variable pricing:

  • General Purpose SSD (gp2)
  • EBS Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1)
  • Throughput Optimized HDD (st1)
  • Cold HDD (sc1)

There is no correlation between the type of EBS volume you choose, and your snapshot costs. Snapshot pricing will be identical for all EBS volume types.

An important takeaway is that you cannot currently save on EBS snapshot costs by using cold storage. AWS only lets you use cold storage for the EBS volume itself, not for its snapshots.

How Long are Snapshots Retained?

It’s important to realize that snapshots are retained until you erase them, and you continue paying for them even if they are no longer needed. Review your EBS snapshots frequently and delete snapshots that are no longer needed. You can use Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager to setup policies to remove EBS snapshots automatically after a certain period of time.

AWS Snapshot Pricing Examples

Here are a few examples of AWS EBS snapshots and their total cost.


Total GB of Snapshots

Months Retained

Data Transfer Cost

Data Storage Cost

Total Cost

US East

(N. Virginia)
500 2 $5 $50 $55

US East

(N. Virginia)
1,000 6 $10 $300 $310

EU (London)

500 2 $10 $53 $63

EU (London)

1,000 6 $20 $319 $339

Reducing AWS Snapshot Costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP data tiering, automatically and seamlessly move snapshots and backup data from block storage to lower-cost Amazon S3 and back when needed.Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides NetApp Snapshot™ technology, which requires no additional storage for snapshots and does not impact application performance. This can dramatically reduce the cost of saving snapshots on AWS.

In addition, Cloud Volumes ONTAP storage efficiency features, including data compression and deduplication, will reduce storage footprint and costs, as well as transfer costs, by up to 70%.

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