In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know about pricing to navigate your way in the 2023 cloud storage market, from the top providers and their pricing models to considerations to keep in mind when choosing a cloud storage provider.
Estimating the average cost of a cloud storage solution can be incredibly complex due to the myriad factors involved. Comparing major providers one-by-one in order to determine the best price-to-value ratio can be complicated and time-consuming, as most of the cloud storage industry’s leading vendors offer a wide range of services. Here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents:
- How Does Cloud Storage Pricing Work?
- Consideration When Choosing a Cloud Storage Provider
- Top 6 Cloud Storage Provider Pricing Comparison
- BOTTOM LINE: Cloud Storage Pricing
How Does Cloud Storage Pricing Work?
Pricing is determined by such factors as the type of data center, resiliency and availability levels, volume of stored data, and eligibility for free tiers. Depending on the vendor and the type of data, there may be data migration fees, data access fees, and access to customer support and employee training.
While some vendors may have their own pricing model, cloud-based storage solutions tend to be straightforward. Providers typically charge one of two ways:
- On a per-gigabyte (GB) basis, with the per-unit cost declining as the total volume of stored data increases, similar to a pay-as-you-go model
- In a tiered model, where a fixed fee is ascribed to every bracket of data storage capacity, which usually encourages users to manage data storage more efficiently
Cloud-based storage tends to include multiple additional features that are necessary for it to function. Many vendors also charge different rates based on data transfer or bandwidth rates, whether it’s uploaded or downloaded to and from the cloud. Some providers may include a certain bandwidth of data transfer in their base offerings, while others may allow unlimited inbound transfers but impose fees on outbound transfers of data.
Another factor is data access frequency and overall availability. Generally speaking, the more you need to access and alter your data, the higher the costs of storage. This is why cloud storage for backup or archival purposes tends to be more affordable than storage of actively in-use data.
Such additional services as backup and recovery, data replication, or advanced security and user authentication features can be offered at a higher fee, but those tend to be optional and some companies choose to manage them internally to save on costs.
Top 6 Cloud Storage Provider Pricing Comparison
Cloud storage technology is still relatively new, having only gained mainstream attention from organizations and businesses in the past couple of decades. The market is still growing, but for now it is dominated by a handful of providers.
Here is the pricing from the top 6 cloud storage providers to help make informed decisions.
1. Amazon Simple Storage Service
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is Amazon Web Services’ leading cloud storage solution. It boasts scalability, a near-100 percent uptime, and advanced security functionality.
AWS storage pricing varies greatly by region and is determined by the vendor’s cost to host data centers and servers in specific geographical locations.
Free Period: The S3 is available for free for the first year of customer signup, including up to 5G of storage space, 20,000 GET requests, 2,000 PUT requests, and 15GB of outbound data transfer per month.
Pricing: AWS’s prices start at $0.023 per GB for 50TB of storage, $0.022 per GB for 450TB of storage, and $0.021 per GB for 500TB of storage.
Charges and Fees: AWS tacks on additional charges for data requests, but DELETE requests are free. Data transfer into S3 is free, but transferring more than 1GB of data out of the service per month will incur fees, which vary depending on the amount of data you are transferring and where you are transferring it to.
Learn More: For more accurate estimates, AWS provides a Simple S2 Calculator of monthly costs.
2. Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
Microsoft Azure’s Blob Storage is known for its scalability and archival storage that promises strong consistency and object mutability, in addition to multiple storage types.
Free Period: Microsoft offers a free account for new users that includes $200 of credit that must be spent within 30 days, plus 5 GB of LRS-Hot Blob Storage with 2 million read, 2 million write, and 2 million write/list operations per month for the first 12 months.
Pricing: The pricing model for Blob Storage depends on the level of redundancy and the location of the data center. Azure also offers different account types:
- Blob Storage and General Purpose v1 accounts offer more limited feature sets at a lower price
- General Purpose v2 offers the complete set of features at a higher price
Charges and Fees: Note that Read and write requests require an additional fee, but DELETE requests are free. Also, data retrieval, data writing, and data transfer to other Azure regions may or may not incur extra charges depending on the level of redundancy selected.
Learn More: The Microsoft Azure website offers a pricing calculator for cost estimation and a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculator for comparing cloud storage with on-premises storage.
3. Google Cloud Storage
Google Cloud Storage is Google’s unified object storage solution, offering multiple tiers of storage, such as high-frequency access, low-frequency access, and lowest-frequency access. Google is known for its customer-friendly pricing compared to other providers on both regional and access levels.
Free: The free tier includes $300 of credit for new users, plus 5GB of Regional Storage in U.S. Regions other than North Virginia with 5,000 Class A Operations, 50,000 Class B Operations, and 1GB of network egress. (The $300 credit must be used within the first 12 months, but the free tier storage continues forever.)
Pricing: Pricing starts at $0.02 per GB, per month for North America-based standard storage, and decreases to archival, coldline, and nearline storage solutions at around $0.01 per GB, per month.
Charges and Fees: Google charges network usage fees when customers transfer data. It also charges fees for operations but divides up the possible requests differently than other vendors—some GET requests and PUT requests cost more than others, while DELETE requests are free.
Learn More: The Google Cloud cost Pricing Calculator provides the ability to view pricing data via an API, web page, or JSON file.
4. IBM Cloud Object Storage
IBM’S Cloud Object Storage is highly scalable and designed for high durability, resiliency, and security. It boasts near 100 percent durability and integrated high-speed data transfer via the company’s Aspera service.
It offers a number of options that range in resiliency based on data center location, from Cross Region storage (where the data is stored in three different regions in the same geography) to Regional (where data is stored in multiple data centers in the same region) and Single Data Center, with minimal redundancy. It also offers storage ranging from frequently-accessed data options to archival and backup storage options.
Free: The Lite plan is essentially IBM’s free tier. With 25GB of storage for free, it’s more generous than most of the other free tiers.
Pricing: As for paid options, the price per GB ranges from $0.0094 per GB for cold storage to $0.0237 per GB for frequently-accessed storage.
Charges and Fees: IBM charges varying rates for requests, starting at $0.006 per 1,000 PUT requests and $0.005 PER 10,000 GET requests. For outward data transfer, IBM charges $0.09 per GB for the first 50TB, $0.07 per GB for the next 100TB, and $0.05 per GB for the next 350TB.
5. Oracle Cloud Object Storage
The Oracle Cloud website promises Object Storage with unlimited capacity, automatically replicating and healing data across multiple fault domains for high durability and data integrity. Other key features include high throughput to support streaming and big data workloads, integrated identity management, server-side encryption, and easy onboarding.
Oracle has the simplest-looking storage pricing page of any of the top public cloud vendors, as it doesn’t have tiers or different prices for different data centers or a lot of other add-ons.
Free: The Oracle Cloud free tier works a little bit differently than most of the other vendors’ programs. Instead of offering certain levels of cloud services for free, Oracle gives all its new cloud customers $300 to spend in the first 30 days after setting up an account. If you choose to spend that all on storage, it would be enough for 5TB.
Pricing: The company offers two different payment plans:
- Pay as You Go, with no upfront fees or commitments
- Monthly Flex, which requires users to prepay for a year of service based on the estimate they obtain from the cost calculator tool.
In cases where customers are purchasing computing instances as well as storage, the Monthly Flex option might be a good deal.
Charges and Fees: Oracle charges $0.0034 per 10,000 GET or PUT requests per month. However, it doesn’t charge for data transfers in or out of the cloud.
Learn More: For better decisions, Oracle offers a Cloud pricing calculator that’s tightly integrated with the purchasing process.
6. Alibaba Cloud Storage
As one of Asia’s biggest providers of cloud storage solutions and tech services, Alibaba has a wide range of storage offerings that primarily target international corporations and firms. Its portfolio boasts object, block, and file-based storage in addition to gateway storage for software applications.
Free: For object-based storage with servers in the US, Alibaba offers a free tier for the first 50 GB of storage.
Pricing: After the first 50 GB, the price is:
- $0.0760 per GB for storage capacity between 10GB and 10TB
- $0.0690 per GB for capacity between 10TB and 50 TB
- $0.0600 per GB for capacity between 50TB and 150TB
For cloud storage larger than 150TB in total, Alibaba charges $0.0430 per GB.
Charges and Fees: With Alibaba, the first 500 million PUT requests are free, then it costs $0.001 per 10,000 requests. For GET requests, the first 100 million requests are free, then it’s $0.016 per 10,000 requests. It also charges for transferring data in and out at $0.082 per GB.
Learn More: Alibaba also offers a price calculator for its cloud services.
Cloud Storage Pricing Comparison Chart
Many factors come into play when choosing the right cloud storage solution—we’ll go over some of them later in this article—but pricing and pricing models are a big selection driver. The chart below compares the pricing of six popular cloud storage providers.
|Alibaba Cloud Storage||Amazon S3||Microsoft Azure Blob Storage||Google Cloud Storage||IBM Cloud Object Storage||Oracle Cloud Object Storage|
|Free tier||50 GB forevr||5GB for 1 year||5GB for 1 year||5GB forever||25GB forever||5TB for 30 days|
|Price per GB||1st 10TB $0.0760/GBNext 40TB $0.0690/GBNext 100 TB $0.0600/GBMore than 150TB $0.0430/GB||$0.02/GB||$0.0255|
|Data in transfer||$0.082/GB||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
|Data transfer out||$0.082/GB||Free for hot data||Free|
|PUT requests||$0.005 per 1,000||$0.05 per 10,000||$0.004 or $0.05 per 10,000||$0.006 per 1,000||$0.0034 per 10,000|
|GET requests||$0.004 per 1,000||$0.004 per 10,000||$0.004 or $0.05 per 10,000||$0.005 per 10,000||$0.0034 per 10,000|
|Cost estimator for 1TB||$34.67/TB/month||$24.90/TB/month||$24.08/TB/month||$26.40/TB/month||$27/TB/Month|
6 Considerations When Choosing a Cloud Storage Provider
The pricing and affordability of a cloud product are only one factor of many to consider when choosing a cloud storage provider. In order to make a long-term decision that best suits your organization’s requirements, there are a number of considerations you should keep in mind during the decision-making process.
For organizations working within a limited budget, affordability remains a key consideration when choosing a cloud storage provider. Storage capacity and needed features and functionality must be affordable on a long-term basis. It’s important to check for hidden costs, like data retrieval fees, overuse charges, or late payment fees, as those can add up. Evaluate the pricing structure carefully, looking at the cost per gigabyte and scalability options as well as supported payment methods before committing to a provider.
Depending on the type of data you’re looking to store in a third-party cloud, the security and privacy measures in place may vary. Typically, providers are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their cloud’s security measurements for both data in transit and at rest.
More sensitive data, such as financial information, medical records, or personal information of customers residing in the EU, might require added protection. For that, consider providers that offer compliance with national and international security standards, such as ISO27001, GDPR, or HIPAA.
3. Storage capacity
The storage capacity required will depend on a business’s specific needs. Cloud storage providers typically offer a range of packages, from a few gigabytes to several petabytes. Analyze the current and future data storage needs and opt for a provider that offers scalability, allowing the option to increase or decrease storage capacity as needed.
4. Data transfer speeds
The speed at which you can upload and download data from the cloud is paramount, particularly for organizations that need real-time and round-the-clock access to their data. High data transfer speeds ensure operational efficiency and prevent downtime. More established storage providers oftentimes have a strong network and infrastructure, enabling them to guarantee fast data transfer rates across the country or state lines, depending on the locations of their data centers.
5. Availability and reliability
Cloud storage should always be accessible when needed. The availability and reliability of a cloud storage solution are often represented by its uptime, with top providers promising 99.9 percent uptime or higher. Unplanned downtime can disrupt operations and lead to significant losses, both monetarily and reputational, so it’s vital to choose a provider with a proven track record of reliability.
6. Customer support and Service Level Agreements
The level of customer support offered by the cloud provider is also a key factor to consider. That’s because if something goes wrong, you’re going to need assurance that the provider will be readily available to help. Look at their support channels, response times, and resolution rates.
Review potential providers’ Service Level Agreements (SLAs) carefully. These should clearly state their commitment to security, uptime, and data protection, and what compensation is available if they fail to meet these commitments.
Bottom Line: Cloud Storage Pricing
Understanding the various components of cloud storage pricing in 2023 is essential for businesses and organizations looking to leverage the cloud. Key factors such as affordability, security, storage capacity, availability, and customer service, play a vital role in determining the best cloud service provider for your needs. By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can make a well-informed decision and select a solution that not only meets your budget and data requirements but also ensures the safety and accessibility of your valuable data assets.