Difference between Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS and Amazon S3

Deciding the best storage for your project

Difference between Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS and Amazon S3

October 1, 2018 / Nirav Shah

When we think cloud services, the first name is AWS. It is the leading cloud services and IT infrastructure provider. Eternal being an AWS certified consulting partner has in-depth knowledge of AWS domain. Since AWS provides an array of services on SaaS model, so most of the time a business owner has no idea of which service to use. This where the AWS expertise of Eternal comes into play and today we are simplifying the use of AWS storage services, so that you decide the best for your business.

Here we will talk about most popular AWS storage services Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS, & Amazon S3. After all the comparison we will talk about the conclusion which are based on Eternal’s AWS expertise and various use cases.

Amazon EBS

Elastic Block storage service is manually scalable service. It is a persistent storage device that can be used as a file system for databases, application hosting and storage, and plug and play devices. One EBS volume can only be attach to a one instance or database. Its cost is lower then EFS.

Elastic Block Storage is –

  • A block storage (so you need to format it). This means you are able to choose which type of file system you want.
  • As it’s a block storage, you can use Raid 1 (or 0 or 10) with multiple block storages.
  • It is really fast.
  • It is relatively cheap.
  • You can store up to 16TB data per storage on SSD-s.
  • You can snapshot an EBS (while it’s still running) for backup reasons.
  • You need an EC2 instance to attach it to.
  • New feature (2017.Feb.15): You can now increase volume size, adjust performance, or change the volume type while the volume is in use. You can continue to use your application while the change takes effect.
  • Amazon EBS pricing: General Purpose SSD (gp2) $0.10 per GB-month.
  • Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1) $0.125 per GB-month ($0.065 per provisioned IOPS-month) Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) $0.045 per GB-month.
  • Cold HDD (sc1) volumes $0.025 per GB-month.

Amazon EFS

Amazon Elastic File system is the fully working as a Network File System (NFS). But it is fully managed and autoscaling file system of AWS. We only have to pay as we have used the storage. It is automatically increase and decrease as our uses.

Amazon EFS file system is excellent as a managed network file system that can be shared across different Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EFS works like NAS devices and performs well for big data analytics, media processing workflows, and content management

Elastic File System is –

  • Generally Available (out of preview), but may not yet be available in your region
  • Network filesystem (that means it may have bigger latency but it can be shared across several instances; even between regions)
  • It is expensive compared to EBS (~10x more) but it gives extra features.
  • It’s a highly available service.
  • It’s a managed service
  • You can attach the EFS storage to multiple EC2 Instances.
  • Can be accessed by multiple EC2 instances simultaneously
  • Amazon EFS pricing: $0.30 GB-month ($6.00 per provisioned MB/s-month)

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is highly durable and Unlimited capacity static storage service. It is mainly used to store objects. It is useful for static website hosting, media distribution, version management, big data analytics, and archiving. In term of price the S3 is cheaper then these both. It provides us unlimited storage capacity.

Simple Storage Service is –

  • An object store (not a file system).
  • You can store files and “folders” but can’t have locks, permissions etc like you would with a traditional file system
  • This means, by default you can’t just mount S3 and use it as your webserver
  • But it’s perfect for storing your images and videos for your website
  • Great for short term archiving (e.g. a few weeks). It’s good for long term archiving too, but Glacier is more cost efficient.
  • Great for storing logs
  • You can access the data from every region (extra costs may apply)
  • Highly Available, Redundant. Basically data loss is not possible (99.999999999% durability, 99.9 uptime SLA)
  • Much cheaper than EBS.
  • You can serve the content directly to the internet, you can even have a full (static) website working direct from S3, without an EC2 instance
    Amazon S3 pricing: First 50 TB / Month $0.023 per GB Next 450 TB / Month $0.022 per GB Over 500 TB / Month $0.021 per GB.


As we come to the end of comparison of various AWS storage services, now you must be aware of the types of AWS storage services and their benefits. It is time for the final verdict.

In the end, the deciding factor between Amazon EBS vs. Amazon EFS vs. S3 most likely comes down to how much you are ready to pay for storage.

Amazon S3 looks the cheapest but that might not always be the case. For performance, Amazon EBS is the fastest due to high IOPS, but when it comes to shared and scalable file systems Amazon EFS is the best option.

Comparing these storage options on AWS, EBS pricing and performance strike a balance that makes it very attractive. But in terms of managed and multi AZ NFS file system with auto scalability EFS is the most attractive and preferable.

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