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Maximizing Cost Savings with AWS EBS: Essential Tips and Strategies for AWS EBS Cost Optimization

December 8, 2023
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Welcome to our blog post! If you're an engineer working with AWS, understanding AWS EBS cost can be quite a puzzle. Worry no more! This article is designed to serve as your comprehensive guide to EBS volume cost. We promise it's not as daunting as it may seem. We're here to break down Amazon EBS cost for you, provide useful tips, and help you strategize for AWS EBS cost optimization. So sit back, relax, and imbibe everything we've carefully curated to help reduce EBS cost.

What is Amazon EBS?

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is a high-functioning storage service specifically designed for Amazon EC2 instances. Its key feature lies in its reliable off-instance storage that remains steady, irrespective of the life span of a single instance. It's essentially like having a virtual hard drive in the cloud, with specific Amazon EBS cost considerations. EBS provides two types of volumes, each with its own distinct advantages and EBS volume cost implications. Understanding these can significantly contribute to AWS EBS cost optimization, as different types of volumes can impact the overall EBS storage cost.

Solid-State Drive (SSD)-backed volumes: If your tasks often involve regular reading and writing actions, especially with small sizes of Input/output (I/O), SSD-backed volumes could be the perfect solution for you. Its main performance quality is IOPS (Input/output Operations Per Second), which plays a big role in the EBS volume cost. Making the right choice could optimize both your work efficiency and budget.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)-backed volumes: When you have big, streaming workloads where speed in megabits per second matters the most, HDD-backed volumes are perfect for you. It's often more pocket-friendly, especially for tasks that don't need the high-speed performance of SSDs.

How Amazon Charges for EBS

Let's dive into the detailed pricing model of Amazon EBS, breaking down each factor for better understanding.

Volume Costs: Amazon EBS storage costs are determined by the gigabytes you allocate each month across all volume types until you free up the storage. 

Understanding this is crucial when estimating your EBS expenses.

Snapshot Charges: The cost of snapshot storage is determined by the amount of data occupying space in Amazon S3. Since Amazon EBS doesn't store empty sections, your snapshot size is likely to be significantly less than your volume size. In terms of copying EBS snapshots, charges are pinned on the volume of data moved between Regions. For your first snapshot, Amazon EBS creates a complete copy of your data in Amazon S3. As for incremental snapshots, only the transformed fraction of your EBS volume is preserved. Following the snapshot is copied, standard EBS charges will be applicable for storage in the destination Region.

Fast Snapshot Restore (FSR) by Amazon EBS: The FSR is priced in Date 

Services Unit-Hours (DSUs) for every Availability Zone in which it's activated. DSUs are billed on a minute-to-minute basis with a minimum of an hour. A single FSR DSU-hour costs $0.75 for each Availability Zone (pricing based on us-east-1 region)

Direct APIs for Snapshots by Amazon EBS: EBS direct APIs for snapshots allow you to read snapshot data directly and pinpoint differences between two snapshots. The charges are as follows:

The ListChangedBlocks and ListSnapshotBlocks APIs are charged on a per request basis.

Charges apply on a SnapshotAPIUnit (block size 512 KiB) for the GetSnapshotBlock and PutSnapshotBlock APIs.

Data Transfer: Understanding the amount of data your application sends out is key. 

While receiving data is free, sending data is charged on a tiered pricing system. Just remember, additional EC2 data transfer fees come into play if your application needs to transfer data externally or across regions. This can greatly impact your entire AWS EBS cost.

If you've just started with AWS, their Free Tier offer might be great for your EBS needs. With this deal, you get 30 GB of storage, 2 million I/Os, and 1 GB of snapshot storage for an entire year. This offer is precisely designed for new AWS users and is valid for one year from when you sign up for AWS.

Optimizing AWS EBS Volume Costs: Identifying Unused EBS Volumes

An EBS volume that isn't connected to any EC2 instance is referred to as an unattached 

EBS volume. Often, this happens when the instance gets terminated but the option 'Delete on termination' wasn't ticked, leaving the EBS volumes undeleted. These leftover volumes contribute to additional AWS EBS costs. Thus, keeping track and managing them effectively is crucial in EBS cost optimization.

Transitioning to the practical aspect of handling these volumes, identifying orphaned volumes through the AWS Console is a relatively straightforward process. To begin, you need to log into your AWS account, ensuring you select the correct region. Then, proceed to the EC2 service. Within the EC2 dashboard, navigate to the Elastic Block Store section and then to Volumes, where you can identify and manage these unattached volumes

Unattached volumes can exist in two states, either 'available' or within an 'error' condition.

You can quickly determine whether an EBS is attached to an instance when attempting to delete an EC2 Instance. As an illustrative example, let's take a look at a typical warning message you might encounter:

Understanding the Default Behavior of 'Delete on Termination' in EC2 Instances

In EC2 instances, the 'Delete on Termination' attribute dictates the fate of attached EBS volumes upon instance termination. It defaults to True for root volumes, ensuring their automatic deletion, but is set to False for other volumes.

Key Points:

'Delete on Termination' is active from the launch of an EC2 instance, leading to the deletion of associated EBS volumes when the instance is terminated.

This feature aids in managing volumes but poses a risk of data loss. Therefore, careful usage and effective data backup strategies are crucial to ensure data safety.

To preserve the root volume after instance termination, the DeleteOnTermination attribute for the root volume should be set to False.

Handling Different Instances

When setting up a new EC2 Instance, you have the option to set the Delete on termination attribute to False. You can find this option under the Storage field.


  • If you are using AWS CLI or AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell, refer to this documentation.
  • If the instance is currently active, you have the option to change the DeleteOnTermination setting to False via the command line

Transitioning From gp2 To gp3 For Optimal Savings

Many are making the switch from gp2 to gp3 volumes and you might be wondering why. 

Let's break it down.

Primarily, gp3 storage is kinder on your budget. It's about 20% cheaper than gp2. For example, in the US East (N. Virginia) region, using gp2 costs about $0.10 per GB month, while gp3 costs only $0.08 per GB-month. That's a substantial saving for you!

The second attraction of gp3 is its lower cost for managing throughput and IO performance. In contrast to gp2 where performance scale is linked to disk size, gp3 shakes things up. With gp3, performance isn't reliant on disk size, rendering it highly cost-effective. In fact, it's about six times cheaper to enhance performance with gp3. 

Now, who wouldn't love a good deal like this?

Upgrading your GP2 volumes to GP3 volumes is an effortless way to achieve up to 20% savings on your Amazon EBS cost. Besides the cost perks, GP3 volumes also allow you to allocate IOPS independently from the volume's storage. This provides you another chance to make the right Amazon EBS volume choice, as some GP2 volume workloads require large volume sizes to meet IOPS needs. So let's see how we can do that with AWS Console and CLI

It's a smart move to create a snapshot of any volume with important data before making changes. This way, if anything goes wrong, you can easily revert back to the original state.

AWS Console:

  1. Go to the EC2 console, open the left menu, and click on Volumes under Elastic Block Store.
  2. Select the volume ID you want to upgrade.
  3. Click on Modify.
  4. In the Modify volume dialog, choose General Purpose SSD (gp3) as the Volume type. Here, you can adjust settings like size, IOPS, and throughput.
  5. After adjusting the settings, click Modify, then click Modify again in the confirmation box to complete the change.


To alter a gp2 volume to gp3 with the AWS CLI, utilize the aws ec2 modify- command. 

Let's say your volume ID is vol-7522349123591234, your command would look like this:

You can monitor the modification process through the Console, CLI, or CloudWatch Events console. However, we will focus on monitoring changes using the Console option. If you are interested in alternative methods, please refer to the following documentation for more information.

  1. First, navigate to the Amazon EC2 console.
  2. Once there, in the navigational menu, select Volumes.
  3. Now, click on the desired volume.
  4. For volume information, look at the Volume state column or the Volume state field in the Details tab. Here, you'll find data organized as Volume state - Modification state ( Modification progress %). The accompanying image illustrates both the volume and volume modification states.

Image obtained from the official AWS Documentation page.

Reducing AWS EBS Costs with Smart Volume Choices

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) provides a variety of volume types, each tailored for specific needs and cost structures. Understanding these options is key to optimizing your AWS infrastructure for both performance and AWS EBS cost.

  1. General Purpose SSD (gp3)

Advantages: Balanced performance for a broad range of workloads.

Use Cases: Development environments, low-latency applications.

Pricing: $0.08/GB-month of provisioned storage.

Scenario: Startup's Development Environment

Let's consider a real-world scenario where a startup is developing a new web application. Their main need is cost-effective storage for development and testing. This is where the General Purpose SSD (gp3) shines. It delivers an ideal mix of price and performance that fits the fluctuating workload of development environments.

  1. Provisioned IOPS SSD (io2)

Advantages: High durability and I/O performance for mission-critical applications.

Use Cases: Large relational or NoSQL databases, enterprise applications.

Pricing: $0.125/GB-month of provisioned storage; $0.065 per provisioned IOPSmonth up to 32,000; $0.046 per provisioned IOPS-month from 32,001 to 64,000; $0.032/provisioned IOPS-month for greater than 64,000.

Scenario: High-Frequency Trading Database for a Financial Services Firm

Consider a financial firm needing a fast, efficient database for high-frequency trading. 

Their priority: high I/O operations per second and low latency. The perfect fit? Provisioned IOPS SSD (io2). It stands out for its consistent high performance, vital for the firm's intense trading activities. Plus, io2's tiered pricing means cost efficiency, allowing the firm to pay only for the IOPS they need, avoiding extra costs for unutilized capacity. This solution smartly balances high performance with cost-effectiveness.

  1. Throughput Optimized HDD (st1)

Advantages: Low-cost HDD volume for throughput-intensive workloads.

Use Cases: Big data, data warehouses, log processing.

Pricing: $0.045/GB-month of provisioned storage.

Scenario: Media Company's Video Archive Storage

Picture a media company with a massive volume of video archives. Their main requirement is economical storage for data that's rarely accessed. The ideal solution? Cold HDD (sc1). It's tailored for infrequently accessed data, offering the most cost-effective option for long-term storage. By opting for sc1 over general-purpose volumes, the company achieves substantial savings in storage costs, making it a smart choice for its extensive data archive. This approach adeptly combines affordability with the specific storage needs of a large media archive.

  1. Cold HDD (sc1)

Advantages: Lowest cost HDD volume for less frequently accessed workloads.

Use Cases: Cold data storage, infrequently accessed data.

Pricing: $0.015/GB-month of provisioned storage.

Scenario: Corporate Data Backup and Archiving

A large corporation seeks a budget-friendly solution for backing up and archiving extensive digital records. They need long-term storage for large, infrequently accessed data volumes, kept for compliance and historical purposes. The chosen solution is Cold HDD (sc1), ideal for less frequently accessed data that is read in large sequential batches. This choice is cost-effective, with sc1 offering the lowest cost per GB among EBS volumes, fitting perfectly for large-scale storage without fast access needs.

Each AWS EBS volume type serves specific use cases. By carefully assessing your storage needs and understanding the characteristics of each volume type, you can achieve optimized costs for your AWS EBS by making informed decisions. Whether it's a startup's development environment or a financial firm's critical database, there's an EBS volume type tailored for every scenario.

EC2 Instance Store: A Strategy for AWS EBS Cost Savings

Looking at Amazon's EC2 Instance Store, it provides volumes which are directly attached to the host EC2 instances. These instances offer low latency and high throughput, making them quite impressive. However, bear in mind, their lifespan is as long as the linked EC2 instance is operational. Meaning, any data stored on these volumes gets erased when the EC2 instance gets stopped or terminated. Therefore, Instance Store volumes are ideal for storing temporary data, things like buffers and caches, and can play a role in AWS EBS cost optimization.

Instance Store volumes are ideal for storing temporary, non-essential data and offer impressively low latency and high throughput.

Their lifespan is tied to that of their host EC2 instance—data on these volumes gets deleted if the linked EC2 instance gets stopped or terminated.

     Instance Store volumes may not be compatible with all types of EC2 instances.

Effectively using Instance Store volumes can help you greatly reduce your overall AWS EBS costs. A simple strategy is to use this storage for less important, temporary data while using persistent EBS volumes for vital information. This approach reduces your EBS resource needs making AWS EBS cost optimization more achievable.

S3 Data Upload: Streamlining Costs on AWS

Consider migrating large files from EBS volumes to S3, given the cost-effectiveness of this approach. Specifically, Standard S3 rates are significantly lower, with savings of up to 77% compared to General Purpose SSD (gp2) volume prices per GB, which is a key strategy in managing AWS EBS cost. Not only this, but you're billed only for the exact amount of data stored. In addition, there's no need to provision S3 capacity, and your data is securely replicated across a minimum of three Availability Zones (AZs).

Cloudchipr: Navigate and Tame Your AWS EBS Costs with Ease

For clear and reliable optimization of your AWS EBS costs, Cloudchipr is your go-to solution. Our platform offers an effortless approach to managing your EBS information. By providing an intuitive interface, Cloudchipr ensures quick access to crucial EBS and EBS Snapshot details. As seen in the screenshots below, necessary data concerning your EBS volumes, such as their monthly cost, creation time, size, and state, are readily available.

Finding unused or expensive instances is now a breeze with adjustable filters. See how in the screenshot below, we've set the filter to show EBS volumes that have been detached for more than 3 days. With such a focused search, managing your EBS volumes is easier and more efficient.

Cloudchipr gives you the power to select and manage a specific volume based on your desired access level. Take a look at the screenshot below. It illustrates the schedule workflow feature, a useful tool for automating tasks. You can use it to delete a volume, create a snapshot before deletion, or simply get a notification. And the best part? You can set these operations to happen at a time that suits you, giving you greater control over task management.

Cloudchipr is an essential cloud cost optimization tool for effectively managing your AWS EBS costs. The platform's intuitive interface provides easy access to crucial volume details, while its adjustable filters simplify the process of identifying costly or unused instances. Additionally, the scheduling feature offers a level of flexibility and automation unseen in other platforms, allowing you to manage tasks at your own comfort.


Understanding AWS EBS expenses isn't as challenging as it seems. By recommending strategies like swapping from gp2 to gp3 volumes, leveraging AWS Compute Optimizer for EBS volumes, and intelligently using Instance Store volumes for temporary data, you can significantly cut costs. Additionally, relocating large files from EBS volumes to Amazon S3 can further decrease expenses with its affordable storage solutions.

Helpful services like Cloudchipr can boost your cost-saving strategies. You may wonder how to lower the cost for AWS EBS? This tool offers an easy-to-use interface for keeping track of and managing EBS and EBS Snapshot costs. By staying informed on your AWS resources and making decisions based on utilization and performance data, you can successfully lower your AWS EBS expenses.

The crucial point to remember for AWS EBS cost optimization is understanding your specific requirements and usage patterns. Frequently updating your strategies in line with these patterns will ensure you're maximizing performance and cost efficiency in your AWS setup. Armed with these strategies and tools, you're all set for keeping AWS EBS cost down, ensuring top-notch performance and cost-effectiveness for your cloud infrastructure.

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