Amazon EBS Snapshots: Archive to S3 + Optimize Storage Cost

Steven Duff, Product Marketing

If we have learned anything over the last 12 months of working from home, it’s that the cloud is now part of our everyday life. Many organizations have now accelerated their plans to move workloads to the cloud, or increase their total number of workloads.

Gartner forecasts that “the proportion of IT spending shifting to cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020¹.” 

One of the main reasons for the growing adoption of AWS and other public clouds is the scale and flexibility that the cloud provides. 

However, with an accelerated move to the cloud, many organizations are struggling to get a handle on growing cloud spend. In fact, according to the latest Flexera report, 73% of organizations plan to optimize their existing use of cloud for cost savings²

So, how can you ensure your organization’s overall cloud costs, including those for backing up AWS workloads, don’t get out of control? At Druva, one of the key areas where we help an organization protect their AWS resources and optimize existing AWS storage spend for long term storage requirements tied to internal, regulatory, or compliance SLAs.

This blog takes a look at how customers can achieve storage efficiency, and lower AWS monthly bills by archiving data from the more expensive Amazon elastic block storage (EBS), to various, less expensive Amazon simple storage service (S3) tiers.

Low-cost, long-term snapshot storage

As we have highlighted in a previous blog, AWS users are responsible under the AWS shared ownership responsibility model to protect all of their most critical data across AWS workloads.

When it comes to taking backups of your Amazon EC2 instances, the most common way to do this is through Amazon EBS volume snapshots. These Amazon EBS snapshots are ‘point-in time’ copies of your block data, which are stored incrementally. This means you are billed for the data change rate since the last backup. However, the challenge here is that these snapshot costs can soon become a significant line item in your AWS monthly bills, especially if they have long-term retention requirements. So what can be done to lower these costs?

For many organizations, there is often a need to retain backup copies for long-term reasons such as business continuity, compliance, or customer contracts. So when it comes to cost optimization options, it’s beneficial to look for the most cost-effective and appropriate AWS storage option to meet your needs. For example, the standard cost for EBS snapshots is $0.05 per GB-month of data stored. Currently, AWS does not offer a low-cost storage tier for EBS snapshots. As a result, customers are looking to third-party solutions like Druva to allow them to utilize the appropriate storage tiers and reduce the total cost of long-term storage.

When to move Amazon EBS snapshots to Amazon S3

There are two key use cases when it makes sense for an organization to archive their EBS snapshots to Amazon S3 storage tiers. The first is if the snapshots have a high change rate. For example, the new EBS snapshot compared to the previous one is significantly different. The second use case, as previously mentioned, is related to long-term retention. You may work in a regulated industry that has the requirement to retain backups for up to seven years. You also have to consider how likely it is that you will need to restore this data, and if you do, how long this data will take to restore, as well as the cost to do so. This is why it is important to choose the right Amazon S3 storage tier to meet your business needs. Details of Amazon’s S3 storage tier pricing and benefits can be found below:

Amazon S3 storage tier pricing

  • S3 standard – General purpose storage for any type of data, typically used for frequently accessed data.
    • First 50 TB/month – $0.023 per GB
  • S3 standard - infrequent access * – For long-lived but infrequently accessed data that needs millisecond access.
    • All storage/month – $0.0125 per GB
  • S3 one zone - infrequent access * – For re-createable infrequently accessed data that needs millisecond access.
    • All storage/month – $0.01 per GB
  • S3 Glacier ** – For long-term backups and archives with a retrieval option from one minute to 12 hours.
    • All storage/month – $0.004 per GB
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive ** – For long-term data archiving that is accessed once or twice in a year and can be restored within 12 hours.
    • All storage/month – $0.00099 per GB

Automatically archive Amazon EBS snapshots to Amazon S3 storage tiers

Druva’s automated, long-term retention tiering allows customers the ability to manage the full lifecycle of their Amazon EBS snapshots on a policy driven basis. You can transition your Amazon EBS snapshots to any of the Amazon S3 storage classes, including Amazon S3 Glacier and Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive, as part of a standard backup policy, significantly reducing costs, while retaining availability for business continuity and compliance.

S3 interface

Why choose Druva to archive Amazon EBS snapshots? 

There are many reasons why customers are choosing Druva to automatically archive their Amazon EBS snapshots, but here are some of the key reasons we regularly hear:

  • Ease of use: A policy-based approach to automatically transition Amazon EBS snapshots to Amazon S3 (and related storage classes) which isn’t available natively.
  • Cost-benefits: Customers can make significant long-term retention cost savings with snapshots being transitioned to lower-cost storage.
  • File search on snapshots stored in S3: Customers can use our metadata-based file search to find files from snapshots without having to recover snapshots in Amazon S3 for investigations, etc.
  • Recovery: Seamless recovery of individual files or snapshots completely from snapshots stored in Amazon S3. 
  • Data never leaves their AWS account: When configuring S3 archival, the customer can choose which account to store it; data never leaves their account(s).
S3 interface

Next steps

Druva’s enterprise-ready solution for AWS workloads reduces the cost and complexity of data protection across AWS regions, and accounts for simplified mobility.

As a 100% SaaS-based solution designed for infinite scale, security, and flexibility, there is no software or hardware to install or maintain. This means you can better manage and simplify your data as it increases in volume and importance.

If you are looking to reduce your AWS storage costs by archiving snapshots from Amazon EBS to S3 storage tiers, we invite you to set up a free trial of our Druva solution for AWS workloads today.


¹ Gartner, “Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Grow 18% in 2021,” Katie Costello and Meghan Rimol, 17 November 2020.

² Flexera, “Cloud Computing Trends: 2020 State of the Cloud Report,” Kim Weins, 21 May 2020.