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Should you pay the same amount to store non-critical data as you do to store critical data? Amazon (news, site) today says no. The now books, now cloud computing company has introduced a new -- and significantly less expensive -- tier to their S3 cloud storage service. 

Reduced Redundancy Storage

Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS) enables Amazon S3 customers to store their less important data (duplicates, thumb nails, trans coded media, etc.) for less money. This fits in nicely with Amazon's pricing model, which is to charge customers only for the amount of space they use as it expands and contracts, no hidden minimum fees included. You can even predict your monthly bill

In the official RRS announcement, Amazon explained:

Amazon S3’s standard and reduced redundancy options both store data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices, but with RRS, data is replicated fewer times, so the cost is less. Once customer data is stored, Amazon S3 maintains durability by quickly detecting failed, corrupted, or unresponsive devices and restoring redundancy by re-replicating the data. Amazon S3 standard storage is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities, while RRS is designed to provide 99.99% durability and to sustain the loss of data in a single facility.

Essentially, the lower price is enabled because the tier uses less replication, and therefore fewer storage resources. 

Ten Cents vs. Google

By comparison, Google Docs, one of Amazon's competitors, gives users 1 free GB for everything (remember the recent addition of the upload anything button): docs, spreadsheets, presentations, and uploaded files. Beyond that, Google's cloud storage pricing looks like this: 

  • 20 GB - $5/yr
  • 80 GB - $20/yr
  • 200 GB - $50/yr
  • 400 GB - $100/yr
  • 1 TB - $256/yr
  • 2 TB - $512/yr
  • 4 TB - $1024/yr
  • 8 TB - $2048/yr
  • 16 TB - $4096/yr

As the market for these kinds of platforms grows, Amazon is obviously trying to offer variations and services that distinguish its compute and storage cloud from those of other providers. Cheaper storage with a lower service level is certainly one way to squeeze the cat.