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How AWS S3 Works

AWS (Amazon Web Services) S3 (Simple Storage Service) is a highly scalable, flexible, accessible storage service that stores data as objects within buckets. It provides object-level storage for user data, unlike traditional file storage.

Common S3 use cases include data backups and restoration, archival data, mobile and web apps, enterprise apps, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and more. You can transfer data stored in S3 over the internet, which makes it easier for developers to upload and automate backups.

S3 Buckets and Objects Explained

AWS S3 stores data files in the form of objects that stay within buckets. These objects can be documents, videos, photos, etc.

When creating buckets, you can choose to store them in an AWS region closest to you geographically, reducing latency and minimizing costs. Objects stored in a bucket remain there unless deleted or transferred.

S3 objects have numerous metadata, i.e., object name, size, and data. Each bucket can contain up to 100 objects at a time. However, there can be as many buckets in the AWS account as possible.

How Much Does AWS S3 Cost?

AWS S3 costs depending on your usage and a variety of factors such as volume of data, rate of access, retrieval speed, storage class, storage period, and more. There is no minimum charges, you only pay for what you use.

AWS S3 costs vary across regions. Data transfer between Amazon S3 and EC2 within the same region does not incur any costs. However, data transfer from one region to the other incurs costs.

Features of AWS S3 Storage

Amazon S3 allows AWS users to exercise control when it comes to accessibility, scaling, and flexibility. Some of the top S3 features include:

  • Amazon S3 Standard– default storage class for frequently used data
  • Amazon S3 Standard Infrequent Access– for less frequently accessed data
  • Amazon Glacier– for long term archival data
  • AWS Glacier Deep Archive– for storing data backup and archival data for compliance purposes
  • One Zone-IA Storage Class– for storing data in only one availability zone
  • Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering– Special storage class that selects other storage classes automatically

Each of these storage classes has unique pricing, depending on the volumes of data stored.


Versioning is the approach of keeping multiple object variants in a bucket. You can keep multiple copies of an object to recover, preserve, or restore, even after you’ve deleted or overwritten an object through the versioning process. It acts as a backup layer for S3 buckets. You can set buckets for versioning such that any objects stored in a file are automatically versioned.

Storage Monitoring

You can monitor S3 data seamlessly through various AWS services. You can either use AWS CloudTrail to track object-level activities through logs or Amazon CloudWatch to set billing alerts. You can also apply tags to S3 buckets to allocate costs or manage access.

How Does AWS S3 Protect Data?

Each object has an access control list. You can configure the access control list to permit access to the object. S3 versioning further allows you to recover objects from unintended user actions.

The Bottom Line

nOps provides AWS users with maximum visibility into their S3 storage. With nOps, you can quickly discover and optimize your S3 storage for minimal costs.

Start your nOps free trial today, or schedule a demo to get started!


Related Topics

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How Much Do AWS S3 Storage Classes Cost?