Does your EBS cost too much? 5 easy ways for you to save on EBS bills

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

By: Majed Amer, Cloudivize Technologies; Co-Founder



Amazon’s Elastic Block Store (EBS) is widely used today thanks to its scalability and reliability in serving EC2 instances.


Unfortunately, managing costs is complicated as tracking EBS volumes in AWS is not as easy as it should be.


Since storage on EBS volumes is persistent, if an instance attached to it is removed, the EBS volume attached to it will still incur charges to end users. These volumes are known as orphaned volumes which waste a lot of space and money for organizations when left unmanaged.


This is just one of the problems stemming from the improper management of EBS volumes and AWS resources—a problem that loses companies $6.4 billion every year as a result of overpaying.


Thankfully, there are some things you can do to save on EBS bills without affecting the performance of your volumes.

1. Choose the appropriate EBS volume

The biggest mistake organizations do is to choose an EBS volume without understanding whether it fits the organization’s operational needs. Some questions you need to ask your team before deployment are:


  • Are we prioritizing IOPS or throughput for performance?

  • What is the ideal storage capacity for our volumes?

  • Are we performing lots of small I/O or large sequential reads?

  • Can EBS actually support our performance requirements? If not, what are the alternatives?

Clarifying these questions before you decide on an EBS volume will save your organization a lot of money (and headaches) down the line when the inevitable IT budget assessment happens.


Speaking of budget, rightsizing should be done at regular intervals to check if your usage is optimal in relation to the size of your volumes. This allows your team to downgrade or upgrade EBS blocks depending on the throughput or IOPS levels of your applications, which saves more money.


If there is no clear direction on the type of EBS block used, stick to gp2, a general-purpose SSD storage volume designed to support and work with multiple types of workloads.


The table by Amazon below shows the different types of EBS volumes and their specifications:

AWS EBS volumes cheat sheet (image source)

2. Delete orphaned volumes

If you have unused EBS volumes, and they’re tagged as “Available”, delete them as you’re losing money by paying for storage you don’t need.

Example of an unused EBS volume

The only time to keep orphaned volumes is when the retained data is used for other applications or EC2 instances. Otherwise, get rid of them as they cannot take traffic, leading to bloated storage and costlier EBS bills.


If the data might be used in the future, it’s better to take a snapshot of the volume as they’re cheaper due to the data being compressed and stored on S3 servers. Like orphaned volumes, snapshots can also pile up and inflate your costs. Make sure to check your snapshots periodically and keep only the latest snapshots as a backup option.


AWS also has a feature to delete EBS volumes automatically when the associated instance is detached, saving you time in managing orphaned volumes.

3. Make use of volume tagging


AWS allows you to tag volumes by assigning unique key-value pairs to resources. These tags are used to group EBS volumes, EC2 instances, and snapshots for easy management and organization.

Example of AWS resource tags (image source)


An advantage of volume tagging is the ability to use cost allocation tags, which gives a visual overview of the billing pipeline for AWS resources. Tag values like Dev, Test, and Backup can also be used to generate reports for usage statistics, giving you more insights on your EBS costs.

4. Cut down on PIOPS volumes

Provisioned IOPS (io1) volumes are expensive and should only be used when necessary.


Often times, you can use cheaper but just as effective volumes like gp2 or sc1 to store data. The difference between these and PIOPS volumes in terms of cost (hourly storage rates) is significant enough for you to observe a noticeable change in your EBS costs.


To know if you really need PIOPS, check the performance of your IOPS volumes and find out the maximum IOPS reached by the volumes. Increase the figure by 20% and you’ll have your baseline for your IOPS requirement to decide on an EBS volume.

5. Use a visual cloud management platform to track EBS cost and relationships more effectively

Visualizing your EBS volumes’ usage with a visual cloud management platform is the best way to track costs.


Instead of relying on guesswork and complicated methods, visualization helps you understand how much you’re paying for each asset and for how long, so you can make better decisions for your organization’s cloud infrastructure.


Cloudivize provides a clear, intuitive view of your EBS usage by visualizing relationships for EBS volumes to find out which volumes are in use and its related instances. Our interactive platform lets you detect unused volumes visually and delete them in the same view with just a few clicks.


With Cloudivize, you can track the number of snapshots for each volume to prevent them from accumulating and taking up valuable storage. Users are also able to update the type, size, and configuration of EBS volumes instantly to match instances and further reduce costs.


You can easily recognize unused or underutilized assets in a glance and manage it from the visual view. This allows enterprises to detect wasteful AWS assets quickly and stop them from racking up the bills.


Request a demo today to find out how Cloudivize can help your organization to cut down on AWS spending efficiently with our interactive visual management platform.

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