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Understanding AWS CloudWatch Pricing: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding AWS CloudWatch Pricing: A Comprehensive Guide

Sandro Volpicella's photo
Sandro Volpicella
ยทMar 6, 2023ยท

11 min read

Table of contents

Introduction

AWS CloudWatch is a monitoring and logging service that allows businesses to track and analyze their AWS resources, applications, and services.

CloudWatch consists of several products such as

  • CloudWatch Metrics: Store & Analyze your AWS Services

  • CloudWatch Logs: Central place to analyze your logs

  • CloudWatch Alarms: Get notified if your system misbehaves

  • ... and many more

All of these different products can make the pricing structure quite difficult.

In all the years working with AWS we saw several projects where CloudWatch was one of the main cost drivers.

In this article, we will dive deep into AWS CloudWatch pricing. We'll go into all the different features of CloudWatch and show you how they are billed. In the end, we will give recommendations on how to reduce your CloudWatch costs.

This is not an article about the basics of CloudWatch if you're interested in them check out this article to get started.

TLDR;

AWS CloudWatch Pricing Infographic

AWS CloudWatch Pricing Overview

CloudWatch pricing in general has no upfront commitment or minimum fee. You pay only for what you use. Since CloudWatch consists of a suite of different products we need to go into each separate product to understand its whole pricing structure.

AWS CloudWatch Products

CloudWatch offers many different products. Let's see a quick recap of all of them and their basic idea of pricing.

  • CloudWatch Metrics: CloudWatch Metrics is sending application or service metrics to CloudWatch. The standard metrics (e.g. number of errors in Lambda for each minute) are free. Custom metrics are priced by the number of metrics you send to CloudWatch. Metrics resolution also costs differently.

  • CloudWatch Logs: AWS CloudWatch log data pricing is based on the amount of log data you ingest, store, and analyze. AWS CloudWatch provides a free tier of 5 GB per month for ingested logs, with charges applied after that.

  • CloudWatch Alarms: AWS CloudWatch alarm pricing is based on the number of alarms you create and manage, along with the notification and data storage costs. AWS CloudWatch provides a free tier of 10 alarms per month, with charges applied after that.

  • CloudWatch Dashboards: AWS CloudWatch dashboard pricing is based on the number of dashboards you create and the data visualization costs. AWS CloudWatch provides a free tier of 3 dashboards per month, with charges applied after that.

  • CloudWatch X-Ray: X-Ray helps you trace requests across your different services. The first 100,000 traces each month are free, after that, they cost $5.00 per 1 million traces.

  • CloudWatch Synthetics: Synthetics allows you to monitor your application endpoints and simulate user interactions. It is priced based on the number of canaries (scripts that simulate user interactions) you create and the number of runs you perform.

  • CloudWatch Evidently: Evidently is a service to perform A/B tests or enable feature flags of your application. The free trial includes 3 million events. After that, they cost $5 per 1 million events.

  • CloudWatch RUM: CloudWatch RUM (Real User Monitoring) is a feature that allows you to track and analyze the performance of your web applications from the perspective of your users. It is priced based on the number of page views and custom events you track.

This was the TLDR; Let's dive into each product now ๐Ÿ 

AWS CloudWatch Free Tier

One of the great benefits of using AWS CloudWatch is the availability of the free tier. The free tier allows users to explore CloudWatch's various products and services without incurring any costs.

Each product under CloudWatch has its

CloudWatch ProductFree Tier Offering
CloudWatch Metrics10 custom metrics per month, with a resolution of one minute, and 1 million API requests per month. The first 10 alarms are also free.
CloudWatch Logs5 GB of log data ingested, 5 GB of archived log data stored, and 5 GB of data scanned by the log insights feature per month.
CloudWatch Alarms10 alarms that can monitor any metric for any resource, with 1 million API requests per month.
CloudWatch Dashboards3 dashboards per month, with up to 50 metrics per dashboard.
CloudWatch X-Ray100,000 traces per month.
CloudWatch Synthetics1 free canary per month, with up to 100 checks per month.
CloudWatch Evidently3 million events as a free trial.
CloudWatch RUM1 million page views per month, and 100 custom events per month.

free tier offering. Here's a summary of the free tier offerings for each product:

AWS CloudWatch Metrics Pricing

CloudWatch Metrics collect metrics from all services

AWS CloudWatch Metrics is a service that allows users to store and analyze metrics for their AWS resources and applications. The service provides standard metrics for various AWS services, such as EC2 instances, RDS databases, and Lambda functions, as well as the ability to create custom metrics.

CloudWatch Metrics Example for a Lambda Function

CloudWatch Metrics pricing is based on the number of metrics sent to CloudWatch and the resolution of the metrics. Here's a breakdown of the pricing structure for CloudWatch Metrics:

  • Standard Metrics: AWS CloudWatch provides standard metrics for various AWS services at no additional cost. For example, EC2 instances provide metrics such as CPU utilization, network traffic, and disk usage, while Lambda functions provide metrics such as invocations, errors, and duration.

  • Custom Metrics: To send custom metrics to CloudWatch, users need to use the CloudWatch API or SDKs.
    The pricing for custom metrics is based on the number of metrics sent to CloudWatch and the resolution of the metrics.

  • Resolution: The resolution of the metrics determines how often CloudWatch receives data points for a metric. You can set the resolution. The minimum resolution is a one-second resolution. The average resolution is one minute.

It's important to monitor the number of metrics and data points being sent to CloudWatch to avoid unexpected costs. Additionally, users should consider the resolution of the metrics and the frequency of data points to ensure they are only paying for the necessary level of detail.

AWS CloudWatch Log Data Pricing

With CloudWatch Logs you can store, monitor, and analyze logs in one central space. CloudWatch Logs pricing is based on the amount of log data ingested, stored, and analyzed.

CloudWatch Logs receives logs from multiple services

Here's a breakdown of the pricing structure for CloudWatch Logs:

  • Log Data Ingestion: AWS CloudWatch charges for the amount of log data ingested per account per region. The first 5 GB of ingested log data per month is included in the free tier. After that, the price per GB ingested varies depending on the region and the type of log data. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $0.50 per GB for standard log data and $0.25 per GB for VPC Flow Logs.

Amazon CloudWatch Log Ingestion

  • Log Data Storage: AWS CloudWatch charges for the amount of log data stored in a particular account and region. The first 5 GB of archived log data stored per month is included in the free tier. After that, the price per GB stored varies depending on the region and the retention period. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $0.03 per GB per month for archived log data stored.

CloudWatch Logs Storage

  • Log Data Analysis: AWS CloudWatch charges for the amount of log data analyzed using the log insights feature. The price per GB scanned depends on the region and the type of log data. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $0.005 per GB scanned for standard log data.

CloudWatch Log Insights Pricing

It's important to monitor the amount of log data being ingested, stored, and analyzed to avoid unexpected costs. This can again be done with CloudWatch ๐Ÿ˜‰

Users should also consider the retention period for archived log data and the frequency of log data analysis to ensure they are only paying for the necessary level of detail. You don't need to keep all logs forever. And especially services such as Lambda create an automatic log group with an indefinite retention setting.

In conclusion, AWS CloudWatch Logs is a valuable service for storing, monitoring, and analyzing log data from various sources. The pricing structure for CloudWatch Logs is based on the amount of log data ingested, stored, and analyzed. Users should be mindful of the amount of log data and the data transfer and API request costs to avoid unexpected charges.

AWS CloudWatch Alarms Pricing

CloudWatch Alarms allows you to monitor metrics and get notified when certain thresholds are breached. CloudWatch Alarms pricing is based on the number of alarms created and managed, along with notification and data storage costs.

Amazon CloudWatch Alarms Example Architecture

Here's a breakdown of the pricing structure for CloudWatch Alarms:

  • Alarm Creation and Management: AWS CloudWatch provides 10 free alarms per month as part of the free tier. After that, users are charged for the number of alarms created and managed per month. The price per alarm varies depending on the region and the type of alarm. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $0.10 per alarm per month for standard alarms. Composite alarms cost $0.50 per alarm.

  • Notification Costs: AWS CloudWatch charges for notifications sent by alarms using SNS (Simple Notification Service). The price per notification depends on the region and the type of notification. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $0.50 per million notifications sent.

It's important to monitor the number of alarms created and managed, as well as the notification and data storage costs, to avoid unexpected charges. Users should also consider the frequency of notifications and the retention period for alarm data to ensure they are only paying for the necessary level of detail.

In conclusion, AWS CloudWatch Alarms is a useful service for monitoring metrics and getting notified when certain thresholds are breached. The pricing structure for CloudWatch Alarms is based on the number of alarms created and managed, along with notification and data storage costs. Users should be mindful of the number of alarms and the notification and data storage costs to avoid unexpected charges.

AWS CloudWatch Dashboard Pricing

With CloudWatch Dashboards you can create custom dashboards to visualize and monitor metrics from various AWS services. The pricing is based on the number of dashboards created.

CloudWatch Dashboard for AWS Lambda

Here's a breakdown of the pricing structure for CloudWatch Dashboards:

  • Dashboard Creation: AWS CloudWatch provides 3 free dashboards per month as part of the free tier. After that, users are charged for the number of dashboards created per month. The price per dashboard varies depending on the region. For example, US East (N. Virginia) has a price of $3.00 per dashboard per month.

AWS CloudWatch Cost Optimization Strategies

AWS CloudWatch can be a powerful tool for monitoring and analyzing your AWS resources and applications, but it can also be a significant cost driver if not used efficiently. Here are some strategies to optimize your CloudWatch costs:

  • Use the Free Tier: AWS CloudWatch provides a free tier for each of its products, which includes a certain amount of usage per month at no cost. We showed you each section that is included in the free tier. Make sure to understand what is included and when you will need to pay for it.

  • Monitor Your Usage: It's important to monitor your CloudWatch usage to avoid unexpected costs. Use CloudWatch itself to monitor your metrics and logs, and set up alarms to notify you when usage exceeds certain thresholds.

  • Reduce Your Metric Resolution: The resolution of your CloudWatch metrics determines how often data points are sent to CloudWatch. Lowering the resolution can reduce the number of data points and lower your costs.

  • Reduce Your Log Retention Period: CloudWatch Logs can store log data for a specified retention period. Lowering the retention period can reduce your storage costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sure, here are three FAQs related to this article:

  1. What is AWS CloudWatch?

    AWS CloudWatch is a monitoring and logging service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that allows businesses to track and analyze their AWS resources, applications, and services.

  2. How is AWS CloudWatch priced?

    AWS CloudWatch pricing is based on the specific product or service being used, such as CloudWatch Metrics, CloudWatch Logs, CloudWatch Alarms, and more. Each product has its pricing structure, which may be based on factors such as the number of metrics sent, the amount of log data ingested, and the number of alarms created.

  3. How can I optimize my AWS CloudWatch costs?

    Some strategies for optimizing AWS CloudWatch costs include using the free tier, monitoring usage, reducing metric resolution and log retention periods, using metric filters, and using CloudWatch Insights. It's important to balance cost savings with the level of detail needed for effective monitoring and analysis.

  4. What is the AWS CloudWatch Free Tier?

    The AWS CloudWatch Free Tier is a program that allows users to explore CloudWatch's various products and services without incurring any costs. Each product under CloudWatch has its free tier offering, which includes a certain amount of usage per month at no cost.

  5. What is the retention period for archived log data in AWS CloudWatch Logs?

    The retention period for archived log data in AWS CloudWatch Logs can be set by the user. The default retention period is indefinite, but users can choose to set a different retention period based on their needs. It's important to consider the retention period when managing CloudWatch Logs costs.

  6. How can I monitor my CloudWatch usage?

    AWS CloudWatch itself can be used to monitor your metrics and logs. You can set up alarms to notify you when usage exceeds certain thresholds, and use CloudWatch Insights to analyze your log data. It's important to monitor your usage to avoid unexpected costs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, AWS CloudWatch is a powerful tool for monitoring and analyzing your AWS resources and applications.

However, it can also be a significant cost driver if not used efficiently. To optimize your CloudWatch costs, make sure to understand the pricing structure for each product and use the free tier whenever possible.

It's also important to monitor your CloudWatch usage and consider reducing the resolution of your metrics and the retention period for your log data. By following these strategies, you can effectively manage your CloudWatch costs while still benefiting from its valuable monitoring and analysis capabilities.

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