Amazon CloudWatch Pricing Explained

Understanding AWS CloudWatch

At its core, AWS CloudWatch serves as a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and the applications running on AWS, designed to scale with your needs. It provides users with data and actionable insights to monitor their applications, understand and respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and get a unified view of operational health.

CloudWatch collects monitoring and operational data in the form of logs, metrics, and events, offering a comprehensive view of AWS resources, applications, and services that run both on AWS and on-premises servers. This enables users to gain system-wide visibility into resource utilization, application performance, and operational health, facilitating a proactive approach to monitoring with alarms and notifications based on precise data analytics.

Recent enhancements to CloudWatch have further solidified its position as a versatile tool for comprehensive monitoring. Features such as customizable dashboards for real-time monitoring of resources and applications, alarms to promptly notify users when thresholds are breached, and events that trigger automated actions in other AWS services, underscore CloudWatch’s capability to adapt to diverse monitoring needs.

AWS CloudWatch Pricing Overview

CloudWatch Pricing Components
CloudWatch Pricing Components

AWS CloudWatch pricing is structured to align with the service’s usage and scalability. The model is primarily based on the dimensions of metricsdashboardsalarmslogs, and events. Customers can choose either basic or detailed monitoring for their AWS resources, where basic monitoring offers a predefined collection of data at no additional cost for many services, and detailed monitoring provides more granular data at a specified rate.

The pricing for CloudWatch is inherently consumption-based, meaning that charges are incurred based on the amount of data ingested, monitored, stored, and actions executed within the CloudWatch environment. This flexible pricing ensures that users pay only for what they use but also necessitates a clear understanding of each component’s pricing structure to manage costs effectively.

  • Metrics: Charges are based on the number of custom metrics and API requests.
  • Dashboards: Users are billed for the number of dashboards they create and manage.
  • Alarms: Pricing varies between standard and high-resolution alarms.
  • Logs: Costs are incurred for log data ingestion, storage, and analysis.
  • Events: Users pay for the number of events that match CloudWatch Events rules.

Given this complexity, making sense of CloudWatch pricing requires a detailed breakdown of each aspect, which will be explored in the following sections. This overview will serve as a foundation for comprehending the nuanced pricing model of AWS CloudWatch.

Metrics Pricing

Metrics form the backbone of the CloudWatch monitoring service, offering a granular view of AWS resources and applications. AWS CloudWatch metrics are divided into two categories: standard metrics and custom metrics.

Standard Metrics are automatically provided by many AWS services. These metrics are available at no additional cost for basic monitoring, where data is typically reported in 5-minute intervals. For detailed monitoring, which reports data in 1-minute intervals, additional charges may apply depending on the AWS service.

Custom Metrics, on the other hand, are user-defined metrics that provide tailored insights specific to an application or a service’s operational health. These metrics allow for a more detailed analysis beyond the scope of standard metrics. Pricing for custom metrics is based on the number of metrics reported to CloudWatch, with costs accruing per metric per month. Additionally, there is a charge for each API request made to publish, list, or retrieve these metrics.

A notable aspect of metrics pricing is the dimensionality factor. A single metric concerning multiple dimensions (attributes describing the metric) could be treated as multiple unique metrics for billing purposes. This dimensionality allows for more detailed breakdowns of data but can also lead to an increase in costs if not managed carefully.

Cost per metric per month drops as your number of metrics increases. In most AWS regions, this cost ranges from $0.30 (for 10,000 metrics) to $0.10 per metric (for over a million metrics) per month, depending on the total number of metrics reported.

To mitigate unexpected metric charges, AWS users should:

  • Prioritize monitoring needs to ensure custom metrics are essential for operational health and performance analysis.
  • Consolidate metrics where possible, using dimensions judiciously to balance granularity with cost.
  • Utilize the CloudWatch free tier, which offers a certain number of free custom metrics and API requests each month.

Understanding these aspects of metrics pricing is crucial for optimizing CloudWatch usage and managing monitoring costs effectively.

Dashboards Pricing

AWS CloudWatch dashboards are a powerful feature that allow users to create customizable home pages where they can monitor their resources in a single view, even across multiple regions. The pricing for CloudWatch dashboards is primarily based on the number of dashboards created and the number of metrics displayed on these dashboards.

Users are charged per dashboard per month. However, AWS offers a free tier allowance that includes three dashboards with up to 50 metrics each per month at no cost. Beyond the free tier, users incur a monthly fee for each additional dashboard. It’s important to note that the fee applies irrespective of whether the dashboard is viewed or not during the billing period.

Current price for Cloudwatch Dashboards in most regions is $3.00 per dashboard per month

The cost associated with displaying a metric on a dashboard is inclusive of the dashboard’s price. This means there are no additional charges for the metrics displayed on a dashboard up to the limits of the specific pricing tier. If a dashboard exceeds the included number of metrics, additional standard or custom metric charges may apply.

To manage costs effectively, users should:

  • Leverage the free tier allowance to the fullest.
  • Consolidate metrics across dashboards where possible, avoiding duplication.
  • Regularly review and clean up dashboards that are no longer needed to avoid unnecessary charges.

Understanding these pricing elements is crucial for users who rely on CloudWatch dashboards for monitoring their AWS resources efficiently while keeping costs in check.

Alarms Pricing

AWS CloudWatch alarms are instrumental in monitoring your AWS resources and applications, allowing you to receive notifications when specific metrics reach defined thresholds. The pricing for CloudWatch alarms depends on the type of alarm: standard resolution alarms, which evaluate metrics at 5-minute intervals, or high-resolution alarms, which can evaluate metrics at intervals of up to 10 seconds.

Alarm Price
Standard Resolution Metrics Alarm (direct) $0.10 per alarm metric
Standard Resolution Metrics Alarm (queries) $0.10 per metrics analyzed
High Resolution Metrics Alarm $0.30 per alarm metric
Composite Alarm $0.50 per composite alarm

For standard resolution alarms, AWS charges per alarm per month. The cost structure is straightforward, with a set fee for each alarm created. High-resolution alarms, which offer more granular monitoring capabilities, are priced higher due to the increased computational overhead and data analysis required.

To optimize costs associated with CloudWatch alarms, users should:

  • Utilize standard resolution alarms whenever possible, reserving high-resolution alarms for critical metrics that require more frequent evaluation.
  • Regularly review and consolidate alarms to eliminate redundancy and ensure that only essential alarms are active.
  • Take advantage of the free tier for standard resolution alarms to reduce overall monitoring costs.

By understanding the nuances of alarms pricing, users can make informed decisions about their monitoring strategy, ensuring they achieve the desired level of operational insight without incurring unnecessary costs.

Logs Pricing

AWS CloudWatch Logs enable you to monitor, store, and access your log files from Amazon EC2 instances, AWS CloudTrail, and other sources. The pricing for CloudWatch Logs is structured around three main components: log ingestion, log storage, and log data transfer.

Log Ingestion: CloudWatch charges for the ingestion of log data, which is the process of sending your logs to CloudWatch. The cost is based on the volume of data ingested in gigabytes. AWS offers a free tier that includes a certain amount of data ingestion per month, which is beneficial for users who have minimal logging needs or are just getting started with CloudWatch Logs.

Log Storage: Once logs are ingested, they are stored in CloudWatch Logs. Storage pricing is calculated monthly based on the average volume of log data stored, measured in gigabytes. The rate decreases as the volume of data stored increases, following a tiered pricing model. It’s important to regularly review and manage your stored log data to avoid unnecessary costs. AWS also allows for the archiving of older log data to Amazon S3 for long-term storage at a lower cost.

Log Data Transfer: Data transfer costs apply when logs are accessed or moved across AWS services or to the internet. Transfer within the same AWS region is typically free, but charges apply for cross-region or internet data transfers.

To manage CloudWatch Logs pricing effectively, consider the following strategies:

  • Utilize the free tier for log ingestion and review your usage regularly to stay within the limits.
  • Implement log expiration policies to automatically delete old logs that are no longer needed, reducing storage costs.
  • Archive logs to Amazon S3 for cost-effective long-term storage, especially for logs that are infrequently accessed but need to be retained for compliance or other purposes.
  • Monitor cross-region and internet data transfers to minimize unnecessary costs.

Users can maintain effective log monitoring and analysis while controlling costs by understanding and strategically managing these aspects of CloudWatch Logs pricing.

Events Pricing

AWS CloudWatch Events is a powerful service that responds to state changes in your AWS resources. From a pricing point of view, it’s vital to understand the distinction between custom events and scheduled events.

Custom events are those generated by your resources or applications, while scheduled events are those that you configure to happen at specific times. Pricing for CloudWatch Events is primarily based on the number of events, with AWS offering a free tier that includes 1 million events per month. Beyond the free tier, pricing is structured per event, making it cost-effective for applications with a moderate number of events.

For custom events, you are charged for each event generated. This model encourages efficient event generation and handling. On the other hand, scheduled events are charged based on the number of scheduled triggers rather than the events themselves. This means that you could have a scheduled event triggering multiple AWS resources for the same price.

Additionally, you may incur Lambda charges when using CloudWatch Events to trigger AWS Lambda functions. It’s essential to account for these when calculating the overall cost of using CloudWatch Events in your applications.

In summary, to manage CloudWatch Events pricing effectively:

  • Leverage the free tier for initial setup and testing.
  • Monitor the number of custom and scheduled events to stay within budget.
  • Consider other AWS service costs triggered by CloudWatch Events.

Examples of Common Pricing Scenarios

Understanding AWS CloudWatch pricing in real-world scenarios is crucial for effective cost management. Let’s explore a couple of common examples:

Medium-Sized Business Infrastructure Monitoring

A medium-sized business with a diverse AWS infrastructure might use a mix of EC2 instances, RDS databases, and Lambda functions. Let’s assume they have:

  • 50 EC2 instances with basic monitoring.
  • 10 custom metrics per instance for detailed performance tracking.
  • 5 RDS instances with detailed monitoring.
  • 20 CloudWatch alarms for critical resource monitoring.

Given these requirements, the business would benefit from the detailed monitoring features, which incur additional costs beyond the EC2 instance price. The custom metrics and additional CloudWatch alarms would further increase the monthly CloudWatch bill.

High-Traffic Web Application

For a high-traffic web application, monitoring and responsiveness are key. Such an application might generate:

  • Hundreds of custom metrics for real-time performance tracking.
  • Dozens of dashboard widgets for operational visibility.
  • Numerous high-resolution alarms to quickly react to performance dips or spikes.

This scenario would result in higher CloudWatch costs due to the extensive use of custom metrics, advanced dashboard features, and the need for immediate alerting through high-resolution alarms.

Strategies to Optimize AWS CloudWatch Costs

Managing AWS CloudWatch costs effectively is essential for optimizing your AWS bill. Here are strategic approaches to achieve this:

Optimizing CloudWatch Logs – This includes filtering log data that is sent to CloudWatch and consolidating log streams Efficient use of CloudWatch Alarms – includes grouping related metrics, utilizing composite alarms, and utilizing alarm actions wisely. Optimizing data retention policies Continuously monitor and improve cost-optimizing strategies using AWS-provided cost management tools and conduct periodic reviews.

We cover these and more in our article on How to Reduce Your CloudWatch Costs: Strategies and Actionable Insights.


AWS CloudWatch offers a robust platform for monitoring and managing AWS resources, but understanding its pricing model is crucial for controlling costs. From metrics and alarms to logs and events, the cost implications of CloudWatch features can vary widely.

By understanding CloudWatch pricing structure and details explained in this article coupled with leveraging the strategies outlined in CloudWatch Cost Optimization, such as optimizing custom metrics, cleaning up unnecessary logs, and consolidating dashboards, businesses can make the most of CloudWatch’s capabilities without overspending.


How does AWS CloudWatch pricing work?

AWS CloudWatch pricing is consumption-based, including charges for metrics, dashboards, alarms, logs, and events. Basic monitoring is available at no additional cost for many services, while detailed monitoring and additional features incur specific charges based on usage.

What are CloudWatch metrics and how are they priced?

CloudWatch metrics are divided into standard metrics (provided by many AWS services at no additional cost for basic monitoring) and custom metrics (user-defined for detailed insights, charged based on the number of metrics reported).

How can I manage costs in AWS CloudWatch?

To manage costs, prioritize essential monitoring needs, consolidate metrics and dashboards, leverage the free tier, and regularly review and clean up unnecessary resources.

What are some common pricing scenarios for AWS CloudWatch?

Common scenarios include monitoring for medium-sized businesses with a mix of EC2 instances, RDS databases, and custom metrics, and high-traffic web applications requiring real-time performance tracking and numerous high-resolution alarms.

Why is CloudWatch so expensive?

CloudWatch can be perceived as expensive due to its extensive monitoring capabilities and the costs associated with detailed logging, high-resolution alarms, and data storage. The pricing model of CloudWatch is usage-based, meaning costs can quickly escalate with increased metrics, logs, and alarm usage, especially in large-scale environments where extensive monitoring is necessary for performance and security.

What are the different components of CloudWatch pricing?

The components of CloudWatch pricing include metrics (standard and custom), dashboards, logs, alarms, and events. Costs are incurred based on the number of metrics monitored, log data ingested and stored, the number of alarms created, and the use of CloudWatch Events or EventBridge for event-driven programming. Each component’s pricing varies by usage volume and region, encouraging users to manage and optimize their monitoring services to control costs.