How to Reduce Data Transfer Costs on AWS: Seven Things to Do Today

Are you wondering how to reduce data transfer costs on Amazon Web Services (AWS)? If your organization depends on AWS, then you might have experienced hidden, unexpected charges appearing on your monthly invoice. Often, AWS costs are opaque, making it difficult for organizations to determine the costs of hosting applications in advance.

One of the biggest culprits of unexpected AWS charges is the cost of data transfer. Unfortunately, understanding data transfer costs for AWS is a time-consuming and laborious task. As a result, many companies unwittingly incur hefty data transfer bills on AWS, running into millions of dollars every year.

To help your organization navigate the AWS data transfer pricing minefield, you need to do the following:

  • Understand the structure of the transfer fees.
  • Learn how to mitigate transfer costs.

Here are the seven things you can do today to reduce data transfer costs on AWS.

Cost Saving Tips to Make the Most of AWS Data Transfer Pricing

AWS data transfers can add up fast. The guideline below will give you control over your AWS data transfer costs. 

1. Limit Outbound Data Transfer 

The easiest way to tame transfer costs on AWS is to cut down on the need for sending outbound data. Data transfer costs on AWS are higher when sending out data. For instance, there’s no tax on inbound data, but, depending on the region, outbound data incur some tax.

Even then, it's not possible to restrict outbound data for some applications. If you're serving media content over the Internet, you're bound to rack up high outbound data transfer fees. If this is the case, you want to take advantage of discounts offered by AWS. The cost per gigabyte reduces as you transfer more data. 

2. Use Amazon CloudFront

Use tools, such as AWS Cost Explorer, to identify the main pain points in your quest to control data transfer costs. After that, use CloudFront to help reduce EC2 to public Internet transfer costs. This includes the charges you might incur from hosting a website that serves content to the public. 

Caching your content in CloudFront allows you to reduce the data transfer costs incurred by your organization. CloudFront has a free tier with up to 50 GB of outbound data transfer and 2 million HTTP requests per month. This offer is only available for the first year.

3. Add “Cost Allocation Tags” to Instances and Load Balancers

Start by obtaining insights into where your applications are incurring the steepest usage fees. To do this, you can use a handy AWS feature referred to as a cost location tag. Used in conjunction with AWS Cost Explorer, this tag analyzes the instances and services that transfer fees stem from.

Cost Explorer identifies EC2 costs and other transfer costs that are driving your AWS bill higher. Applying these tags to your instances and load balances lets you narrow in on those incurring the highest data transfer charges.

4. Keep Data Transfer within a Single Region

Do you have to transfer data between different AWS services, such as Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2? You need to architect your applications in a way that ensures transfers are happening within a single AWS region.

Also, make sure you're transferring data through private IPS and not public or elastic IPv4/IPv6 addresses. If you adhere to these caveats, then your data transfer costs will be nil.

5. Keep EC2 Data Transfers within a Single Availability Zone

Transferring data in and out of Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Redshift, and other services? The charge you’ll receive will be 1 cent per gigabyte in each direction. 

To optimize cost savings on data transfers, you must take a two-pronged approach. First, keep your data transfers confined within a single region. Second, keep the data transfers within a single availability zone. 

6. Use the Cheapest Available AWS Regions 

Data transfer costs on AWS can vary widely. Because of regional pricing, certain regions incur higher charges than others. Regions within Canada and the United States are usually the most inexpensive. India, Singapore, and South America are among the costliest. Always go for the cheaper regions whenever you can.

7. Use a Third-Party Monitoring Service 

To control your AWS data transfer costs, you need to identify the resources that incur unnecessary data transfer charges. By identifying these resources, you're able to make the right infrastructure decisions so you can avoid these costs later.

Using third-party tools, such as nOps, allows you to get alerts whenever unforeseen spikes in data transfer costs occur. 


Ready to start gaining sharper visibility into the data transfer costs of your AWS deployments? nOps cloud management platform (CMP) is just what the doctor ordered. nOps allows you to identify cost anomalies and determine just how much you can save by taking the necessary actions. Start your free trial today.