AWS Cost Efficiency
How to reduce AWS CloudWatch Cost?

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Amazon CloudWatch enables publishing metrics through logs, ideal for complex application metric ingestion alongside other log data. Particularly valuable in high-cardinality environments like AWS Lambda and container services such as ECS or EKS, CloudWatch offers a crucial feature: automatic extraction of custom metrics from logs. This capability allows for visualization, alarms, and analysis using Logs Insights, significantly enhancing monitoring efficiency.  

Around 25,000 companies rely on Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring. This underscores CloudWatch's pivotal role in real-time metrics, logs, and events collection, vital for global cloud infrastructure management and optimization.

In this blog, we will cover how CloudWatch costs are calculated and factors influencing them, why reducing CloudWatch costs is important for businesses using AWS services and share practical tips on how to achieve cost optimization effectively.

How are CloudWatch costs calculated?

CloudWatch costs depend on factors like data usage, storage, and additional features. Charges include ingested data volume, storage, retrieval, monitoring frequency, custom metrics, alarms, dashboards, API requests, and more. Users can also benefit from the AWS Free Tier for limited usage at no cost.

Metric Category
Basic Monitoring Metrics   Metrics sent from AWS Services by default  
Custom Metrics   Up to 10 metrics  
API Requests   1 million requests (excluding specific operations)  
Dashboards   3 Custom Dashboards referencing up to 50 metrics each per month  
Alarms   Up to 10 Alarm metrics for Standard resolution alarms  
Logs   5 GB of data (ingestion, archive storage, and data scanned by Logs Insights queries)  
Live Tail Usage   1,800 minutes per month  
Events   All events except custom events included  
Contributor Insights   1 rule per month, with first 1 million log events that match the rule per month  
Application Signals   100 million signals per month during Preview  
Synthetics   100 canary runs per month  
Evidently   First-time free trial includes 3 million events and 10 million analysis units per account  
RUM   First-time free trial includes 1 million events per account  

For Detailed insights on paid pricing for CloudWatch visit AWS CloudWatch Pricing page.

Example: If you are monitoring VPCs that send 72TB of ingested VPC flow logs to CloudWatch logs per month and archiving the data for one month, your charges would be as follows:

Monthly log ingestion charges
0 to 10TB for $0.50 per GB = 10 * 1,024 * $0.50 = $5,120.00
10TB to 30TB for $0.25 per GB = 20 * 1,024 * $0.25 = $5,120.00
30TB to 50TB for $0.10 per GB = 20 * 1,024 * $0.10 = $2,048.00
50TB to 72TB for $0.05 per GB = 22 * 1024 * $0.05 = $1,126.40

Total Ingestion Charges = $5,120 + $5,120 + $2,048 + $1126.40 = $13,414.40

Monthly log archival charges (assume log data compresses to 30TB)
30TB at $0.03 per GB = 30 * 1024 * 0.03 = $921.6  

Monthly CloudWatch Charges = $13,414.40 + $921.6 = $14,336  

How to reduce CloudWatch costs?

1. Optimize Logging Levels: Take the time to analyze your logging requirements and determine which information is critical for effective monitoring and diagnostics. Configure logging levels to capture only essential data while avoiding excessive verbosity, thereby reducing the volume of logs and minimizing cloudWatch costs.

2. Metric Aggregation and Filtering: Utilize CloudWatch Metric Math functionality to consolidate related metrics, which can help reduce the number of custom metrics generated and lower associated expenses. Additionally, implement selective metric filters to limit the ingestion of log data into CloudWatch, focusing only on the most relevant information and further reducing costs without sacrificing monitoring effectiveness.

3. Optimizing CloudWatch Log Ingestion: Evaluate your logging needs thoroughly and customize logging configurations for each component of your system. Test these configurations in controlled environments to ensure they capture necessary data while avoiding unnecessary overhead. Periodically review and refine these setups to maintain efficiency over time and continue minimizing CloudWatch costs.

For example, to implement selective logging in Python, you can use conditional statements:

4. Set Log Retention Policies: Setting log retention policies involves defining rules for how long log data should be retained in CloudWatch before it's automatically deleted. By removing old and unnecessary log data, organizations can reduce storage costs and improve the efficiency of log management.

Example: Configure a log retention policy to automatically delete log data older than 30 days using AWS CLI.

This command sets a retention period of 30 days for the log group named my-log-group, ensuring that log data older than 30 days is automatically deleted, thus reducing CloudWatch costs.

- Review and Remove Unused Alarms: To reduce CloudWatch costs by reviewing and removing unused alarms, start by assessing the relevance of each alarm and identifying any that are no longer needed. Review the settings of each alarm to ensure they align with current monitoring requirements. Remove or disable alarms that are deemed unnecessary or redundant, ensuring that only essential ones remain active. Regularly monitor alarm usage and adjust configurations as needed to optimize cost-effectiveness while maintaining necessary monitoring functionality.  

- Consider Reserved Capacity: To reduce CloudWatch costs through reserved capacity, consider pre-paying for dashboard space or alarms at discounted rates. Reserved Dashboards allow you to secure dashboard capacity for a specific period, while Reserved Alarms enable pre-payment for a set number of alarms over a defined time. These options are advantageous for predictable workloads, providing cost savings over time.

- Monitoring and reviewing: Monitoring and reviewing CloudWatch usage involves regularly analyzing metrics and cost data to identify areas where optimization can be applied. By understanding usage patterns and associated costs, organizations can implement strategies to reduce unnecessary spending while ensuring efficient monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities.

- Implement Cost Allocation Tags: To reduce CloudWatch costs, implement cost allocation tags by developing a tagging strategy, applying tags to resources, analyzing spending data, optimizing resource usage, and continuously updating tagging strategies.


In conclusion, for businesses utilizing AWS CloudWatch, effective cost optimization involves optimizing logging levels, filtering metrics, and refining log ingestion. Additionally, setting retention policies, removing unused alarms, and considering reserved capacity are key strategies. By also implementing cost allocation tags and leveraging CloudWatch Synthetics, businesses can maintain efficient monitoring within budgetary constraints. Stay proactive, monitor regularly, and adapt your approach to ensure CloudWatch usage remains effective and budget-friendly for your specific needs.

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