Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) is a fully managed service. Here we compare its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to a self-managed cloud solution using third-party software.

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You can operate file servers in the AWS Cloud using third-party software that provides a file system interface and shared access to files. The management software for these third-party solutions typically runs on Amazon EC2 instances, and these solutions leverage Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) as the underlying storage component. These solutions require budget for the third-party software licenses, Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon EBS volumes, and data replication across Availability Zones (AZs).

The example solutions below illustrate the TCO differences between Amazon EFS and a self-managed cloud solution with third-party software This example is for a latency-sensitive workload requiring 1 TB of storage, with an average throughput requirement of 10 MB/s and peak throughput performance of 100 MB/s.

Amazon EFS automatically replicates data across multiple AZs. A self-managed cloud solution requires additional storage capacity for cross-AZ replication, and incurs costs for data transfers between AWS AZs; these costs are built into the Amazon EFS price of $0.30/GB-month.


Amazon EFS

 Self-managed Cloud Solution

Utilized Capacity 1,024 1,024

Total Purchased Capacity (GB)



Storage Cost (1 year)



Compute Cost - 2 c4.xlarge (1 year on-demand)



Cross-AZ Replication Data Transfer Cost (1 year)



Total Cost of Ownership (1 year)



$/Utilized GB per Month



Savings with Amazon EFS



In this example, the table above shows that Amazon EFS is less than half the cost of a self-managed cloud solution with third-party software. The price for the self-managed solution assumes free, open source third-party software and does not include the labor costs for setup, initialization, management, and maintenance.

Comparison details:

For the self-managed cloud solution, the Total Purchased Capacity calculation uses EBS General Purpose (SSD) gp2 volumes, considers an 85% disk utilization rate, and accounts for doubled capacity for replication to a second AZ. The example assumes an average throughput of 10 MB/s of reads and writes, with an even split of reads and writes, leading to a replication rate of 5 MB/s corresponding to writes to the secondary AZ. The Compute Cost calculation uses one c4.xlarge EC2 instance in each AZ (2 total) to deliver the performance required.

The example above represents the cost savings Amazon EFS provides compared to a self-managed cloud solution. When considering the labor and time required for installation, management, and maintenance for a self-managed solution, Amazon EFS provides even greater savings. This TCO advantage is further strengthened when considering that with Amazon EFS you do not have to manage the infrastructure or need to plan for capacity growth.

If you are investigating the cost advantages of moving to the AWS Cloud from on-premises solutions, you can enter your configuration into our TCO calculators here. Amazon EFS, like all AWS services, helps you lower TCO by reducing the need to invest in large capital expenditures and provides a pay-as-you-go model that empowers you to invest in the capacity you need and use it only when the business requires it.