DEV Community

Cover image for Understanding AWS Snapshot Pricing: A Comprehensive Guide
Danial Ranjha for Billgist

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Understanding AWS Snapshot Pricing: A Comprehensive Guide

AWS offers a variety of services for managing and storing data, including Amazon EBS snapshots. Understanding the pricing structure for AWS snapshots is essential for optimizing costs and effectively managing data archiving. This comprehensive guide explores the considerations, limitations, pricing, and best practices associated with archiving and creating Amazon EBS snapshots on AWS.

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon EBS Snapshots Archive offers up to 75% lower storage costs for snapshots stored for 90 days or longer.
  • Archived snapshots are billed at $0.0125 per GB-month, with restore costs at $0.03 per GB.
  • Archiving snapshots is useful for compliance, end-of-project snapshots, and incremental backups.
  • Snapshot billing includes costs for storage, retrieval, and minimum archive periods.
  • Creating application-consistent snapshots based on Windows VSS is recommended for data consistency.

Archiving Amazon EBS Snapshots

Archiving Amazon EBS Snapshots

Considerations and Limitations

When archiving Amazon EBS snapshots, it's crucial to understand the constraints you'll face. The minimum archive period is 90 days, and if you choose to delete or restore a snapshot before this period ends, you will incur charges for the remaining days, rounded to the nearest hour. This policy ensures that snapshots are retained for a reasonable duration to justify the lower cost of archiving.

Snapshots can only be archived if they are in a completed state and belong to your account. If you wish to archive a shared snapshot, you must first copy it to your account. Additionally, restoring an archived snapshot is not instantaneous; it can take up to 72 hours, depending on the snapshot's size.

It's important to plan your snapshot archiving strategy with these considerations in mind to avoid unexpected costs and ensure data availability when needed.

Pricing and Billing

Understanding the cost implications of AWS snapshot features is crucial for effective budget management. Archived snapshots are billed at a rate of $0.0125 per GB-month. For instance, archiving a 100 GiB snapshot would result in a monthly charge of $1.25.

Snapshot restores are billed at a rate of $0.03 per GB of data restored, which means restoring a 100 GiB snapshot from the archive tier incurs a one-time fee of $3.

Once a snapshot is restored to the standard tier, it is billed at the standard snapshot rate. Here's a quick reference for the pricing structure:

Snapshot State Billing Rate Example Cost (100 GiB)
Archived $0.0125/GB-month $1.25/month
Restored $0.03/GB $3 (one-time)
Standard $0.05/GB-month $5/month

It's important to note that these costs are in addition to any operating system charges when instances are running. For detailed information on specific OS pricing, such as Linux, Ubuntu Pro, or RHEL, refer to the respective AWS documentation.


After understanding the various fees associated with AWS Snapshot archiving, such as storage, retrieval, and early deletion, it's crucial to be aware of the default quotas that AWS imposes. These quotas are designed to maintain optimal performance and resource availability across the platform.

The default quota for archived snapshots per volume is set at 25, which means you can have up to 25 snapshots archived for each EBS volume. Similarly, AWS allows for 25 concurrent in-progress snapshot archives per account, ensuring that snapshot operations do not overwhelm the system. Additionally, there is a limit of 5 concurrent in-progress snapshot restores per account, which balances the restore operations with the system's capacity to handle them efficiently.

It's important to note that these are the default settings, and they may vary based on your specific AWS account and usage. To manage these quotas effectively, you should regularly monitor your snapshot activities and understand how they contribute to your overall AWS cost management.

For those who need to exceed these limits, AWS provides the option to request an increase. This can be done through the Amazon EBS endpoints and quotas documentation, which also offers guidance on how to navigate these requests.

Guidelines and Best Practices for Archiving Snapshots

When considering the archiving of Amazon EBS snapshots, it's essential to recognize the balance between cost savings and accessibility. Archiving is recommended for less frequently accessed snapshots, such as those taken monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Daily incremental snapshots might not be cost-effective to archive due to the potential for higher costs in the long run.

Amazon S3 Glacier offers low-cost long-term storage but has complex billing structures with charges for storage, retrieval, data transfer, and deletion. Understanding pricing details is crucial to avoid unexpected costs.

It is important to only archive snapshots that are in a completed state and that you own. Archiving shared snapshots requires copying them to your account first.

Here are some limitations and requirements to keep in mind:

  • Snapshots must be in the completed state before archiving.
  • Only snapshots owned by your account can be archived.
  • Restoring an archived snapshot to the standard tier is necessary before it can be used to create a volume or for other operations.
  • Snapshots associated with AMIs can only be archived if all related AMIs are disabled.

Required IAM Permissions

To effectively manage snapshot archiving within AWS, it is crucial to set up the correct IAM permissions. Proper configuration of IAM policies is essential to ensure users have the necessary access to perform snapshot archiving operations. These policies define the permissions for API actions and resource usage related to snapshot archiving.

The following list outlines the basic permissions required for snapshot archiving:

  • ec2:CreateSnapshot
  • ec2:DescribeSnapshots
  • ec2:DeleteSnapshot
  • ec2:ModifySnapshotAttribute
  • ec2:CopySnapshot

Remember, granting minimal permissions that align with the principle of least privilege reduces security risks and helps maintain a secure AWS environment.

It is also important to note that certain actions cannot be performed once a snapshot archiving process has begun. For instance, you cannot cancel the archive or restore process after it has started, and archived snapshots cannot be shared with other accounts.

Work with Snapshot Archiving

After understanding the basics of archiving Amazon EBS snapshots, it's crucial to know how to effectively work with the snapshot archiving feature. Archiving snapshots is a cost-effective solution for long-term storage of snapshots that are accessed infrequently. Typical use cases include archiving end-of-project snapshots, compliance-related snapshots, or periodic snapshots such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly increments.

To archive a snapshot, it must be in a completed state and owned by your account. If a snapshot is shared with you, you'll need to copy it to your account before archiving. Remember, archiving daily snapshots may not always be cost-effective compared to the standard storage tier, especially for snapshots of a single volume.

Before using an archived snapshot, it must be restored to the standard tier. This step is necessary for creating volumes, sharing, or copying the snapshot.

Here's a quick checklist for archiving snapshots:

  • Ensure the snapshot is in the completed state.
  • Verify ownership of the snapshot.
  • Consider the frequency of snapshot creation to avoid unnecessary costs.
  • Restore the snapshot to the standard tier when needed.

Monitor Snapshot Archiving

Effective monitoring of snapshot archiving is crucial to manage costs and ensure compliance with data retention policies. Regularly review your archiving strategy to optimize for both cost and recovery objectives. Utilize AWS tools such as Amazon CloudWatch and AWS Trusted Advisor to track snapshot usage and expenses.

Amazon CloudWatch can be particularly useful for setting alarms on snapshot storage metrics, allowing you to receive notifications for any unusual activity or thresholds being exceeded. Additionally, AWS Cost Explorer and Billgist offer insights into your spending patterns and can help identify opportunities for cost savings.

It is essential to understand the implications of archiving actions on both cost and data retrieval times. Archiving snapshots that are infrequently accessed can lead to significant cost savings, especially for snapshots stored for longer than 90 days.

Remember that while archiving can reduce costs, certain actions such as copying or enabling fast snapshot restore are not possible with archived snapshots. Plan accordingly to avoid disruptions in your workflow.

Create Amazon EBS Snapshots

Create Amazon EBS Snapshots

Application-Consistent Snapshots Based on Windows VSS

Creating application-consistent snapshots on Amazon EC2 Windows instances is a critical process for ensuring data integrity during backups. The snapshot process leverages the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to capture image-level backups of VSS-aware applications, including any pending transactions. This method is particularly beneficial as it eliminates the need to shut down instances or disconnect volumes during the backup process.

Systems Manager Run Command can be utilized to automate the creation of these snapshots across all attached EBS volumes. This ensures that snapshots are taken consistently and without manual intervention, providing a reliable point-in-time state of the data for recovery or replication purposes.

By using VSS with EBS snapshots, you ensure that the backups reflect an accurate and complete state of the applications at the time of the snapshot.

The following steps outline the process for creating application-consistent snapshots:

  1. Prepare your Amazon EC2 Windows instances by ensuring that they are VSS-aware.
  2. Use Systems Manager Run Command to initiate the snapshot process.
  3. Verify that the snapshots have been created successfully and capture the desired data state.

It is important to note that while snapshots are incremental, capturing only the blocks that have changed since the last snapshot, each snapshot acts as a full backup from the perspective of recovery.

Pricing and Billing

Pricing and Billing

Cost Tracking

Understanding the costs associated with AWS snapshots is crucial for effective budget management. Archived snapshots are listed in the AWS Cost and Usage Report, maintaining their original resource ID and Amazon Resource Name (ARN). This allows for precise tracking of storage expenses.

To identify snapshot-related costs, look for the following usage types in your billing report:

  • SnapshotArchiveStorage
  • SnapshotArchiveRetrieval

The former refers to the monthly data storage fee, while the latter is a one-time fee for restoring a snapshot. It's important to monitor these costs regularly to avoid unexpected charges.

Billgist provides AWS billing alerts for cost tracking, preventing surprises. Snapshot reports offer easy access and timely alerts for sudden bill increases.

By keeping a close eye on your AWS billing reports and setting up alerts, you can ensure that your snapshot costs remain predictable and within budget.

Billing for the Minimum Archive Period

When dealing with AWS Snapshot pricing, it's crucial to understand the minimum archive period of 90 days. You are charged for this period even if you delete or restore the snapshot before it ends. For instance, if you archive a snapshot and decide to delete it after 40 days, you will still be billed for the remaining 50 days.

The charges are calculated based on the amount of data that has been archived. Here's an example of how the billing works:

Days Archived Data Size (GiB) Charge
40 100 $1.50

Note that temporarily restoring a snapshot within the 90-day period does not result in additional charges.

It's important to plan your snapshot lifecycle accordingly to avoid unnecessary costs associated with the minimum archive period.


In conclusion, understanding AWS snapshot pricing is essential for optimizing costs and effectively managing data backups in the cloud. By utilizing features like Amazon EBS Snapshots Archive and considering factors such as snapshot storage costs, snapshot restores, and billing details, users can make informed decisions to meet their storage needs efficiently. It is important to track costs, follow best practices, and leverage tools like AWS CLI and Windows PowerShell for creating and managing snapshots. With a clear understanding of AWS snapshot pricing, users can ensure data protection and cost-effectiveness in their cloud environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Amazon EBS Snapshots Archive?

Amazon EBS Snapshots Archive is a new storage tier that offers up to 75 percent lower snapshot storage costs for snapshots stored for 90 days or longer and rarely accessed.

What are some typical use cases for archiving snapshots?

Some typical use cases include archiving end-of-project snapshots, full point-in-time incremental snapshots for compliance, and monthly, quarterly, or yearly incremental snapshots.

How are archived snapshots billed?

Archived snapshots are billed at a rate of $0.0125 per GB-month, and snapshot restores are billed at a rate of $0.03 per GB of data restored.

How can I track the cost of archived snapshots?

Archived snapshots appear in the AWS Cost and Usage Report with associated costs identified by usage types like SnapshotArchiveStorage and SnapshotArchiveRetrieval.

How are snapshots stored in the Amazon EBS Snapshot Standard tier?

Snapshots stored in the standard tier are incremental, meaning only the changed blocks on the volume after the most recent snapshot are saved.

What is the billing process for the minimum archive period?

Billing for the minimum archive period is detailed in the Amazon EBS pricing documentation.

Top comments (0)