Hidden Costs of Using Cloud Storage with WordPress

Aug 6, 2021 | Comparisons

Integrating a cloud-based object storage service like Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 or Google Cloud Storage with WordPress has many benefits, and is the best way to scale beyond the storage limits of the largest hosting plans.

Some of those benefits include:

  • Unlimited Storage Space – There is no limit to the amount of media your users can upload. This is especially important for WooCommerce stores with lots of products, WordPress Multisite networks, or any media-heavy site.
  • Improves Site Performance – If your media is hosted in cloud storage, your hosting server no longer needs to serve media files, reducing load and freeing up CPU and network resources for serving up more pages faster.
  • More Secure Storage – Most cloud storage providers copy data across multiple drives and data centers, providing unrivaled durability for your files.
  • Faster Backups & Migrations – With your media only in the cloud and not in the same disk as your site code, it is much more efficient to make a copy of the site when performing backups and migrations.
  • Horizontal Scaling – Traditional hosting storage is not designed when your site needs high availability and/or the ability to scale beyond one web server. Transform WordPress into a stateless application ready for the cloud and the traffic of the largest enterprise websites.

On top of all this, cloud storage pricing can seem too good to be true. Especially when compared to the cost of upgrading to a higher hosting plan. However, cloud storage pricing can be very deceptive. There are many potential hidden costs beyond the often quoted price per GB per month, and when used with a WordPress site those hidden costs will often far exceed the per GB rate, sometimes by a factor of 10x or more! And to make matters even worse, every cloud provider has its own confusing pricing details that make it hard to compare them apples-to-apples.

Complicated Pricing

When it comes to using cloud storage for a WordPress website, it’s important to understand all the potential costs. First, we’ll break them down and describe each, then look at example prices for some of the major cloud providers.

1. Storage

The base cost and the one most often compared is the storage cost for uploaded cloud files. this is usually priced based on GB per month stored. Generally, this is calculated daily based on the storage used at that point, then totaled and billed monthly.

It’s important to know that some of the cheaper cloud providers like DigitalOcean or Wasabi may have a minimum storage cost (250GB and 1TB respectively), so for a smaller site, your storage costs might be vastly inflated. Some additionally have a minimum storage duration that could catch you unaware if you often delete or modify files. For example, Wasabi has a minimum storage duration policy of 90 days.

Most cloud storage providers have multiple storage classes with different prices. S3 has Standard, Infrequent Access, and Glacier. While it may be tempting to look at the low prices of some of the options, only the standard tier is suitable for use hosting WordPress files.

2. Requests/Operations

In addition to storage costs, most cloud providers have extra charges for API requests. API requests are an unavoidable part of using cloud storage, and when used for storing and serving website files like in WordPress, they can be substantial. Requests are usually divided into two pricing tiers that are billed per 1,000 or 10,000 requests:

  • Class A/PUT, COPY, POST, LIST – These request types normally happen only when uploading or editing media on the site. However, sometimes there are plugin or theme functions that have to execute them much more often, which can quickly increase costs. This class of requests often price in around $0.005/1,000.
  • Class B/GET, SELECT, etc. – These are the most common, as every time a file is served to a site visitor that is a GET request. Luckily these are the cheaper class of requests, an example price would be $0.0004/1,000.

3. Data Transfer/Bandwidth/Egress

Every time a file is downloaded from cloud storage, egress bandwidth is used and that is usually charged per GB. Depending on the destination of that data transfer and the cloud provider, costs can vary drastically from $0/GB to $0.23/GB. For example, transferring data to the internet from Amazon S3 ranges from $0.09-$0.154/GB depending on the region. Google Cloud Storage starts at $0.12/GB and up. These costs can be quite expensive and hard to predict as they depend largely on your site traffic patterns.

If serving files via a CDN in front of cloud storage, transfer egress costs still may apply and are often calculated differently depending on the provider and which CDN is used. For example, when using S3 and AWS Cloudfront together, there is no data transfer fee when Cloudfront pulls data from S3. But if using a different CDN provider, you will still have to pay Internet egress rates for all origin pulls for uncached files. Google Cloud Storage still charges for egress to their Cloud CDN at a reduced rate.

4. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Cloud object storage is not designed for delivering files for a website directly. This is because it is slower, subject to rate limits, and only serves your files from a single region. Because of this, it is best practice to serve files in cloud storage via a global CDN designed for this purpose. The major cloud providers have their own powerful CDN designed to work well with their storage.

However, using a CDN adds another layer of costs in a few categories:

  • Bandwidth – This is usually billed per/GB and is normally billed by the global delivery region. The USA and Europe are usually the cheapest, with progressively higher rates for Asia, Africa, and South America regions. So costs will depend largely on the location of your website visitors and the amount of traffic. For AWS and Google Cloud, this ranges from $0.08/GB-$0.20GB.
  • Requests/Lookups – Similar to cloud storage GET requests, many CDN providers charge a fee per 10k requests. This is usually around $0.01/10,000 requests.
  • Ingress – Some CDNs like Google’s Cloud CDN charge for ingress bandwidth when fetching uncached files from cloud storage. This can run from $0.01 – $0.04 per GB.

Cloud Pricing Summary

The cost of using cloud storage for hosting website files is far more complex than the simple per GB fee that is advertised. And each provider and CDN combination can change the cost calculations drastically. For your convenience, we’ve put together a table summary with the top cloud providers.

Plugin Licenses

If you want to use cloud storage for your WordPress website files, you need to have a plugin for integration. It is important to factor in any licensing costs for the plugin to get a fair and total cost comparison of using cloud object storage for your WordPress files.

Infinite Uploads’ Simple Storage Pricing

As you can see, migrating your media library to cloud storage and delivering with a content delivery network provides massive benefits. But managing a cloud and predicting pricing can be challenging. That’s why we built Infinite Uploads. No guessing or worrying about runaway costs.

Infinite Uploads comes with storage and CDN service-connected. Choose your region and get top-tier service. If you have a large site or run an agency, Infinite Uploads is both cost-effective and removes the stress offloading storage.

Pick the Infinite Uploads plan that’s right for you, and get started risk-free with a 7-day trial. If you have any questions about moving your media library to the cloud, leave them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

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