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How can I reduce my cloud storage costs?

What are the top five ways to save money on cloud storage costs for data protection?

The Internet is filled with stories from people who are surprised by how much they end up spending on cloud storage. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to minimize the costs.

Use the cloud as a secondary backup tier

One of the most important things to do is to use the cloud provider as a secondary backup tier. Cloud storage providers commonly charge based on the amount of data that is being stored, as well as the amount of I/O that is being generated. Using the cloud as a secondary storage tier minimizes the chances that you will have to perform a restoration from the cloud, thereby limiting the amount of cloud I/O.

Try to avoid performing restorations from the cloud

As previously stated, avoiding cloud-based restorations is a good way to limit cloud storage I/O costs. However, there is another reason for avoiding cloud-based restorations -- unless you absolutely have to use them. Cloud-based restorations tend to be slower than restorations from local sources. Any time you are restoring data, someone is waiting on that data. There are direct costs associated with data not being readily available. You can reduce these costs by recovering data as quickly as possible.

Periodically purge outdated data that is no longer needed

Another thing you can do is periodically purge data that isn't needed (some backup applications have policy-driven mechanisms that will automatically perform this task). There is a per-gigabyte charge for storing data on the cloud, so your storage costs will increase month after month as you accumulate more data.

Try to avoid vendor lock-in

Another recommendation is to avoid vendor lock-in if at all possible. Some storage array vendors require you to use the vendor's own cloud service. This service almost always costs more than services provided by more generalized cloud service providers.

Deduplicate data at the source

Another way to save costs is to deduplicate data prior to transmitting it to the cloud. Doing so limits the amount of data you are storing in the cloud (thereby reducing costs), and also helps perform backups in a more timely manner.

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Reducing costs all depends on what you're doing with the data and the application, but here are a few suggestions:

1 - Make sure you understand how the Cloud Provider charges for bandwidth. Some change for both inbound and outbound, while others only charge for outbound.

2 - Understand if the Cloud provider offers long-term discounts vs. their on-demand pricing. On-demand pricing can often be 30-40% more expensive than 1yr or 3yr contracts. All depends on how much data you have and how long you need to keep it.

3 - Determine if the Cloud provider has archival services ("cold storage") vs. more active storage. If your data is rarely accessed, this can significantly reduce costs.

4 - Consider using local (on-premises) storage gateway products that support deduplication to reduce how much data you actually send to the Cloud provider.

5 - Invest in the scripting and automation needed to bring up the DR compute (in the cloud) on-demand. Don't pay for compute that sits idle most of the time.