There is a new trend in cloud storage—changing your pricing model to make it look like egress is free in the attempt to get AWS, GCP, and Azure customers to switch. If that egress really is free, then absolutely switch! But as many companies are discovering, there is a lot of fine print related to ‘free egress’. In this article I will explain what we’ve learned from reading that fine print and how to make sure that you get the best ROI for your cloud storage.
Who offers ‘free egress’?
Wasabi was the first to come out with the ‘free egress’ pricing model, recognizing that egress fees made monthly bills unpredictable. Today they offer three products that range from $6.99/TB for storage to $10.99/TB for storage and $0/TB egress in the US. Higher storage rates apply in other regions. For those that don’t move their data much, you can get lower storage costs with a $40/TB fee for egress.
Cloudflare jumped on the trend of ‘free egress’ when they decided they had a great opportunity to grab the object storage business of their CDN customers. They wanted a pricing model that looked too good to pass up. And what could look better than free egress? Cloudflare advertises a $15/TB price tag for storage and $0/TB for egress.
Backblaze recently increased their storage costs by 17% while switching to a ‘free egress’ model in the attempt to remain competitive with Wasabi. Their new pricing appears to be the lowest cost option at $6/TB for storage and $0/TB for egress.
It is interesting to note that none of the big providers (hello AWS, GCP, and Azure) have jumped on the ‘free egress’ bandwagon. Is there some magic that the others have that they don’t? We looked into the fine print to try to determine what the ‘magic’ was.
What’s the fine print?
These companies still need to make money to provide their services, so it is easy to be suspicious that there are limitations or hidden fees to use their service. Well, you’d be right. Here are the gotchas we found when looking into ‘free egress’.
Wasabi only allows customers free egress if their egress amount is equal to or less than their storage amount. This means anyone that moves data frequently, like streaming scenarios, or moves large amounts of data, are not suited for Wasabi. The fine print states that Wasabi “reserves the right to limit or suspend your service.”
Another limitation that helps Wasabi make up for the ‘free egress’ is a 30-90 day minimum storage term. This requires customers to pay more for the storage of data that they’d rather replace frequently (easily tripling your bill if you’re not careful). Some good examples of this would be backup files or media post-production work.
Cloudflare R2 says ‘free egress’, but they push you to use 'add-on' services for certain file types. At first, it seems free, but then you’ll notice the R2 docs state that r2.dev subdomains are rate limited and should only be used for development purposes. How do you move to production purposes? By purchasing non-free add-on services.
If you’re hosting video, you’ll end up having to use their Stream product, which charges per video minute to stream your content. Images? Same story, you’ll be pushed to use their Images product. We have a customer who tried using Cloudflare for a small video distribution platform and they were contacted after just a month of use and told that free egress is not applicable to them. So how much did it cost? We’ve heard for video content it is $5 per 1,000 minutes stored. That pricing will get scary quickly for lower bandwidth videos.
Backblaze egress is free for only certain users for up to 3x the amount of data stored. Beyond that you will pay $10/TB of egress. That makes it more expensive for backup and much more costly for use cases that require a lot of bandwidth.
Is anything truly low cost and unlimited?
Well, not among the traditional cloud service providers. By traditional, I mean the ones that build up their storage network using new purchased hard drives and data centers. It is extremely costly to build, operate, manage and protect data centers. As we produce more data and want that data to be accessible across the globe, these traditional cloud providers have to keep building more data centers. This further drives up the costs plus it’s detrimental to our environment due to higher carbon emissions.
The good news is that there is an alternative model for cloud storage that is affordable, with clear and simple pricing, and no ‘fine print’ limitations. The model is globally distributed cloud storage that leverages underutilized capacity in existing hard drives. This means a significantly lower impact on carbon emissions as well as the storage cost.
Instead of storing data in centralized data centers, with distributed cloud storage, data is encrypted, segmented, then distributed to storage locations throughout the world. The Storj network has tens of thousands of storage nodes globally. Each 64MB segment is split in 80 pieces, but only 29 are needed to rebuild the file. This innovative and proven approach ensures high durability and allows for consistently great performance anywhere in the world because the file segments are sent in parallel and the fastest segments are used to deliver the file.
Storj is the only globally distributed cloud object storage that is enterprise grade. Our pricing model is simple and transparent: $4/TB storage and $7/TB egress. Compare that to the ‘free egress’ providers which initially look better compared to AWS, but they have those hidden fees and limitations plus you have to pay even more for the global performance you get with Storj by default.
Here’s where globally distributed cloud storage really shines—you don’t have any extra costs for multi-region performance or durability. The data is automatically distributed throughout the world to provide high performing downloads from anywhere. No disaster, outage, bad actor, misconfigured server, or inside agent can corrupt your data. Storj distributes data over a massive global network of storage nodes. That makes data multi-region by default and always available anywhere in the world. Storj provides the enterprise grade durability and availability backed by an SLA. Plus, you can select which nodes you want your data stored on to comply with SOC 2, data sovereignty, or your multi-cloud strategy.
Don’t fall for the ‘free egress’ trap.
If you have a production application, regularly transfer large files, or want to get value from the backup and archival data you have, the ‘free egress’ model will likely limit you with their fine print or won’t actually lower your monthly bill.
Watch 2.75 min video comparing Storj to AWS, Cloudflare, Wasabi, and Backblaze to get a clear understanding of why ‘free egress’ isn’t actually free.
If you aren’t loving your monthly cloud storage bill or you’ve been limited by ‘free egress’ fine print, give Storj a try. Storj is S3-compatible and it's extremely simple to migrate your data from any of the ‘free egress’ providers. Still not sure? You can calculate the cost savings and ROI for free here.