AWS EFS Tiering and Pricing: How to save on cost

AWS EFS tiering provides pricing up to 92% lower compared to EFS Standard. AWS EFS infrequent access (IA) has different pricing and lifecycle guidelines.

— by Beto Juárez III, Solution Architect -

You may be paying too much for your AWS EFS (Elastic File System)

AWS EFS pricing explained

Amazon Elastic File System is a network file system for Linux machines on AWS (EC2 or VMC). It has two primary storage tiers: Standard and OneZone, each of which has a secondary tier called Infrequent Access (IA).

When and why should I use AWS EFS Intelligent Tiering?


Ensure you are getting the lowest cost for AWS EFS without compromising performance and access to files. Files can be moved back to frequent access following changing data access patterns.

How to enable AWS EFS Intelligent Tiering

To modify or set a file system’s lifecycle management from the CLI:

Run the put-lifecycle-configuration AWS CLI command or the PutLifecycleConfiguration API command, specifying the file system ID of the file system for which you are managing lifecycle management.

					$  aws efs put-lifecycle-configuration \
--file-system-id File-System-ID \
--lifecycle-policies "[{\"TransitionToIA\":\"AFTER_60_DAYS\"},{\"TransitionToPrimaryStorageClass\":\"AFTER_1_ACCESS\"}]" \
--region us-west-2 \
--profile adminuser

To modify or set a file system’s lifecycle management from the console:

When creating or editing your lifecycle policy, ensure that you select a Transition into IA to one of the available settings, and Transition out of IA to On first access to move files that are in IA storage to standard storage when they’re accessed for non-metadata operations.

The CloudFix Fixer: EFS Infrequent Access Tier

Generate savings with EFS Intelligent Tiering

You can save up to 92% of storage costs by moving files to the IA tier, following the criteria set by AWS. EFS Intelligent Tiering helps you find the balance between cost and performance by reacting to Data Access Patterns. This means that if there are files that are currently stored in Infrequent Access, EFS Intelligent Tiering will monitor them to see if they are accessed frequently and move them back to either EFS Standard or EFS OneZone respectively.

  • When using Infrequent Access, however, you should be aware of the following:
    Objects in IA have ~10x higher latency (from single-digit millisecond to double-digit millisecond), and therefore should be used for files that aren’t needed regularly.
  • EFS bursting-mode baseline throughput is linked to the volume of primary-tier data (50MiB/sec per TB of data).
  • There is risk associated with this Fixer if Bursting Mode file systems are optimized. However, if Throughput Mode is provisioned then we can predict the throughput that the file system needs. Therefore, the safest option is to provision the minimum required throughput. This takes the performance risk and turns it into a (minor) financial risk instead. And since AWS only charges for provisioned throughput that is not already provided due to the size of the file system, this makes it low risk. In other words, if your primary tier is large enough, you won’t pay any extra for the provisioned throughput.
  • The (minor) financial risk mentioned above is minimized further if we only change file systems where savings are guaranteed.

Building a capacity model for AWS EFS Tiering

Building an accurate model would require data we don’t have: file access patterns.

We can, however, model the scenarios where differing percentages of the primary tier are moved to IA and the file system is using differing percentages of the baseline throughput (cell values are % savings from each combination). This means:

  • Standard File systems: 90% of baseline capacity
  • OneZone File systems: 40% of baseline capacity
Throughput fraction of baseline capacity

Thus we can see that if we move 80% of files to IA, we will get 73% savings as long as our throughput requirements are below 20% of the original baseline. As our throughput requirement increases, we start to incur costs for provisioned throughput. The breakeven point is 92.5% of baseline capacity, after which we will actually lose money by this move.

The safest threshold is 90% of baseline throughput, where any amount of files moved to IA will result in net savings.

CloudFix automates this and other AWS Cost Optimizations

When you can identify and migrate EFS volumes with intelligent tiering, your team has the ability to write a script that can run as a job with this AWS cost optimization.

But what about next week? And the week after? CloudFix can help manage your ongoing AWS EFS costs by always scanning for eligible tiering migrations.

Introducing CloudFix

AWS releases 50 Advisories a week, in the form of blog posts, to help their customers take advantage of the latest AWS recommendations including cost and performance improvements. However staying on top of every advisory as well as creating and managing jobs for every recommendation is time consuming for cloud teams. That’s why we built CloudFix.

CloudFix removes the burden from you and your team by monitoring all the AWS Advisories and regularly scanning your AWS accounts, identifying cost savings opportunities, and automatically implementing safe, non-disruptive AWS approved fixes.

Unlike other tools, CloudFix automatically applies the AWS recommended Advisories by integrating with AWS Change Manager. That means you are in control of how and when changes are made in your AWS accounts.

CloudFix Dashboard
The CloudFix Dashboard

After connecting your AWS account, CloudFix continuously:

  1. Monitors and reviews advisories with AWS
  2. Scans your AWS accounts using our full library of optimizations
  3. Fixes problems simply & safely

More CloudFix Fixers

Check out our other blog posts on cost savings or see how CloudFix integrates with AWS Systems Manager Change Manager to execute its Fixer optimizations.

More Updates

Reduce Costs

CloudFix now supports Financial Savings

Since the launch of CloudFix cost optimization platform from DevGraph we have seen huge interest and adoption. Today, we are excited to announce that you can save even more with our new financial savings capabilities in addition to resource related

Read More
Skip to content