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Amazon S3 Storage Classes Explained

For different usage scenarios, Amazon Web Services offers different storage classes. This allows reducing the storage costs for data which is rarely used, and doesn’t require instant access. All the classes have a high level of reliability and support SSL data encryption during transmission, but differ by their cost

This article will outline where and which class is recommended for use, and what the difference between Amazon S3 storage classes is.

Table of Contents

    Amazon S3 Standard

    Amazon S3 Standard is designed for high-usage, “hot” data storage and has the following features:

    • High capacity and low latency.
    • Reliability at 99,999999999% level (of 100 billion objects per year, you are at risk of losing only one of them).
    • Availability at 99,99% level (of 10 thousand hours, within one hour the data will be unavailable).
    • Use of the storage is covered by Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement, which considers compensation if the level of uninterrupted operation is lower than it was declared.

    Standard storage is suitable for the following usage scenarios:

    • Website hosting.
    • Cloud applications and web-services.
    • Mobile games and apps.
    • Big data.
    • Content distribution.

    Amazon S3 Standard Infrequent Access

    Amazon S3 IA is designed for the data which require less frequent access, but with longer storage time than in case of Standard.

    Low delays combined with high capacity and reliability 99,999999999% insure the safety of object for a long period of time. Amazon S3 IA differs from Standard in the following way:

    • Availability at 99.9% level within a year (e.g., the probability of request error is a little higher than in standard storage).
    • You are charged for data retrieval.

    Minimum storage period is 30 days, and the minimum size of the object is 128 KB. The storage is recommended for long storage of files, disaster recovery data, backup, outdated sync data. As a rule, they require access relatively rarely, but, if necessary must be accessed quickly. In CloudBerry Backup, you can use S3 Standard IA class as a standard destination for your backups.

    Amazon S3 One Zone - Infrequent Access

    In April 2018, Amazon Web Services has introduced yet another Amazon S3 storage class - Amazon S3 One-Zone Infrequent Access. It is 20% less expensive than Amazon S3 Standard IA due to lesser availability - 99.5% level within a year. It's naming is really all there is to say about that class - instead of three availability zones, Amazon S3 Z-IA stores data in only one.

    Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering

    Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering is and is not a storage class. If you put objects in the S3 Intelligent-Tiering storage class, AWS will monitor and move your data on a per-object level to the proper storage tier. If your object hasn’t been accessed in 30 days, AWS will move it to the infrequent access storage tier. If the object is then accessed after being moved to infrequent access, AWS will move it back to the frequent access storage class for cheaper subsequent accesses.

    Thus, Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering is a storage class that uses other storage classes and moves data automatically between them.

    Amazon Glacier

    Amazon Glacier is a perfect solution for long storage and archiving of data which don’t require instant access. The service allows storing large or small volumes of data at low cost. At the same time, the retrieval process may take several hours. Amazon Glacier differs from S3 Standard in the following way:

    • Extremely low cost.
    • Uninterrupted operation is not guaranteed by the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement.
    • The minimum period of storage is 90 days.

    There is a charge for data retrieval of more than 10 GB free tier per month. Access to data is limited depending on the chosen retrieval options (expedite retrieval - 1-5 minutes, standard - 3-5 hours, bulk - 5-12 hours) The service is optimized for the data, for which the access is rarely required, with admissible retrieval time of several hours.

    The typical example of use is the storage of data archives:

    • Media resources archives (news bulletins).
    • Archives of organizations working in the health area (patients information).
    • Data obtained during scientific researches.
    • Backup copies of databases with long storage.
    • Replacement of analog media.

    You can save objects directly in Glacier or set a Lifecycle Policy on your S3 bucket to automatically archive data.

    Amazon Glacier Deep Archive

    AWS has introduced Amazon Glacier Deep Archive, a further development of Amazon Glacier storage. With price for storing 1GB/month starting at $0.00099, it will be the cheapest storage solution on the market, once released in 2019.

    In Amazon Glacier Deep Archive you won't have an option for an expedited data retrieval - the fastest retrieval time is up to 12 hours. The longest option - bulk retrieval - will take up to 48 hours.

    Amazon S3 RRS

    Amazon S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS) allows reducing the storage costs for uncritical data. This can be achieved through reduction of redundancy and decreasing a replicas number. The main difference between RRS and S3 Standard is reliability at 99,99%. It means that, on average, if you store 10,000 objects, within a year, you are at risk of losing only one of them.

    This solution is perfect for uncritical or easily replicable data of different apps: dynamic websites, business-applications, etc. For example, you can use Amazon S3 Standard for keeping images, and S3 RRS — for their previews.

    Lifecycle Policy


    All Amazon S3 classes are supported by lifecycle policy. It means that you can optimize the storage costs for the objects by setting the rules of their automatic transference to cheaper storage. It is also possible to set up the life cycle termination policy so that the files were automatically removed after a certain period.

    For example, you can save your data in Amazon S3 Standard, in a certain time transfer it to Standard IA storage, and then - to Glacier. Sometime later it can be removed or placed to archive storage.

    Amazon S3 Storage Classes Comparison Table

    S3 StandardS3 RRSS3 Standard IAS3 Z-IAGlacierGlacier Deep Archive
    Redundancy99,999999999 %99,99 %99,999999999 %99,999999999 %99,999999999 %99,999999999 %
    Availability99,99 %99,99 %99,9 %99,5N/AN/A
    The minimum period of storageUnlimitedUnlimited30 days30 days90 daysTBA days
    The minimum size of the objectUnlimitedUnlimited128KB (for less you are charged as for 128KB)128KB (for less you are charged as for 128KB)UnlimitedUnlimited
    Access to the objectMillisecondsMillisecondsMillisecondsMilliseconds1 minute - 12 hours, depending on the retrieval options12 hours-48 hours, depending on the retrieval options
    Charge for data retrievalNoneNonePer GB of the data retrievedPer GB of the data retrieved10 GB per month free, then per GB of the data retrievedTBA

    Backup to Amazon S3 with CloudBerry

    In CloudBerry lab, we have developed an endpoint backup solution for managed service providers and standalone users. Both, CloudBerry Managed Backup and CloudBerry Backup Standalone supports backup to Amazon S3 and all of its classes.

    Backup to any Amazon S3 Class

    Cut costs by backup to the lower-cost Amazon S3 IA and Amazon Glacier storage with CloudBerry



    Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering Support

    CloudBerry Backup 6.0 provides the ability to back up data directly to the Intelligent-Tiering storage class.

    Lifecycle and Retention Management

    CloudBerry Backup fully supports data versioning in Amazon S3. You can create a flexible and automated retention policy while creating a backup plan.

    AWS IAM Support

    CloudBerry Backup securely works with your access and secret keys. Our SaaS solution - CloudBerry Managed Backup - works directly with IAM users to ease management and deployment for multiple users and organizations.