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Amazon S3 Storage Classes Explained

For different usage scenarios, Amazon Web Services offers different S3 storage classes. This allows reducing the storage costs for data which is rarely used, and doesn’t require instant access. All Amazon S3 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.

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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).
  • The use of the storage is covered by the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement, which considers compensation if the level of uninterrupted operation is lower than it was declared.

S3 Standard storage is suitable for the following usage scenarios:

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

Further reading Amazon Cloud Storage: S3 or Cloud Drive?

Amazon S3 Standard Infrequent Access


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

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

The minimum storage period is 30 days, and the minimum size of the object is 128 KB. The S3 IA storage is recommended for long storage of files, disaster recovery data, backup, outdated sync data.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 MSP360 Backup, you can use the S3 Standard IA class as a standard destination for your backups.

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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 S3 storage classes and moves data automatically between them.

Amazon Glacier Flexible Retrieval

Amazon S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval

Amazon S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval is a perfect solution for long storage and data archiving that don’t require instant access. The service allows storing large or small volumes of data at a low cost. At the same time, the retrieval process may take several hours. Amazon Glacier Flexible Retrieval 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 access is rarely required, with an 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 Amazon S3 Flexible Retrieval or set a Lifecycle Policy on your S3 bucket to automatically archive data.

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Amazon Glacier Instant Retrieval

Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval

Recently, Amazon introduced the new archive storage class called Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval. This storage class was designed to provide greater flexibility in storage management, efficiently reduce costs, and it became the most cost-effective and immediately accessible tool for long-term storage.

Now Amazon offers three archive storage classes for various archival needs:

Further reading Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval Storage Class Is Available in CloudBerry Backup 7.2.3 and Explorer 6.2.1

Amazon Glacier Deep Archive


AWS has introduced Amazon Glacier Deep Archive, further development of Amazon Glacier storage. With the 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 the 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 storage 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 Standard S3 RRS S3 Standard IA S3 Z-IA Glacier Glacier Deep Archive
Redundancy 99,999999999 % 99,99 % 99,999999999 % 99,999999999 % 99,999999999 % 99,999999999 %
Availability 99,99 % 99,99 % 99,9 % 99,5 N/A N/A
The minimum period of storage Unlimited Unlimited 30 days 30 days 90 days TBA days
The minimum size of the object Unlimited >Unlimited 128KB (for less you are charged as for 128KB) >128KB (for less you are charged as for 128KB) Unlimited Unlimited
Access to the object Milliseconds Milliseconds Milliseconds Milliseconds 1 minute - 12 hours, depending on the retrieval options 12 hours-48 hours, depending on the retrieval options
Charge for data retrieval None None Per GB of the data retrieved Per GB of the data retrieved 10 GB per month free, then per GB of the data retrieved TBA

Backup to Amazon S3 with MSP360

In MSP360, we have developed an endpoint backup solution for managed service providers and standalone users. Both MSP360 Managed Backup and CloudBerry Backup support 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 MSP360.




Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering Support

MSP360 Backup 6.0 provides the ability to back up data directly to the Intelligent-Tiering storage class.

Lifecycle and Retention Management

MSP360 Backup fully supports data versioning in Amazon S3. You can create a flexible and automated retention policy while creating a backup plan.

AWS IAM SupportAWS IAM Support

CloudBerry Backup securely works with your access and secret keys. Our SaaS solution - MSP360 Managed Backup - works directly with IAM users to ease management and deployment for multiple users and organizations.


MSP360 Managed Backup. Simple. Reliable.
Powerful cross-platform backup and disaster recovery that leverages the public cloud to enable a comprehensive data protection strategy.
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