Your storage options

IBM Cloud® Object Storage offers the following storage classes designed to meet the breadth of your data storage and access needs while effectively managing storage costs.


Smart Tier — Designed for any workload, but ideal for unknown and changing data patterns, Smart Tier offers a simplified pricing structure with automatic tier classification and cost optimization, ensuring you receive the optimal storage cost each month.


Standard, Vault or Cold Vault — Designed to be used when data activity is more predictable and consistent, these storage classes can be selected to meet your data access needs for active, less active and cold data.


Archive — Designed to easily manage the lifecycle of your data and to lower storage costs. Automatically tiers data to IBM Cloud Object Storage Archive or Accelerated Archive for long-term data retention.

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Smart Tier

Smart Tier is designed for the changing nature of data. The way you use your data can change from month to month and over time. With Smart Tier, there is no need to worry about cost overruns because you selected the wrong storage class or your data activity changes over time. Simply store your data in Smart Tier and you will automatically be billed at the optimal storage rate each month.

Automatic cost optimization for your storage is applied using a built-in pricing tier classification based on your data activity. First, Smart Tier analyzes your monthly activity (a combination of average monthly storage, and number of operations and retrievals). Then you're billed at the Hot, Cool or Cold rate based on the amount of storage and access. There are no retrieval charges, no minimum object size, no minimum duration requirement — and no other overhead charges.

Hot Data classification:  Number of Operations greater than or equal to 1,000 x {Storage (per GB) – Retrievals (per GB)}
Cold Data classification: Number of Operations less than or equal to 1,000 x {Storage (GB) – Retrievals (GB)}
Cool Data classification applies if neither of the above conditions are true. To learn more, see billing topic

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Smart Tier: How it works

1. Create a Smart Tier storage bucket, data activity is tracked

Create a Smart Tier bucket in IBM Cloud Object Storage, then upload and manage your objects. Data activity will be tracked during the month.

2. Automatic pricing tier classification

At the end of each monthly billing cycle, Smart Tier classifies the data you have stored into one of the three built-in tiers: "hot," "cool" and "cold," based on your data activity.

3. Optimized monthly billing

Each month you will be billed accordingly at either the hot, cool or cold rate across your data stored in Smart Tier.

Storage classes for more predictable data activity

Standard (for active data)

Use this level for active data that's accessed multiple times a month. Your data is immediately available when needed. Common use cases include streaming mobile and web content, DevOps, analytics, collaboration and active content repositories. There are no retrieval charges, no minimum object size and no minimum duration requirement.

Vault (for less active data)

Use this level for less active data that's accessed once a month or less. Data is immediately available when needed. A low retrieval charge applies for reading data. Common use cases include backup and digital asset retention. Vault includes a threshold for object size and storage period with a minimum billable object size of 128 KB¹ and a minimum storage duration of 30 days².

Cold Vault (for cold data)

Use this options for cold data, data accessed only a few times a year. A larger retrieval charge applies for reading data. Common use cases include long-term backup, large data set preservation such as scientific data, or older media content that needs to be stored cost effectively but requires fast access when needed. Cold Vault includes a threshold for object size and storage period with a minimum billable object size of 256 KB¹ and a minimum storage duration of 90 days².

¹Objects smaller than the minimum size will incur a charge for the minimum billable object size.
²Objects deleted before the minimum duration will incur a prorated charge equal to the storage charge for the remaining days.

Archive your data

IBM Cloud Object Storage "Archive" and "Accelerated Archive" are low-cost options for data that is rarely accessed and requires long-term retention, such as compliance or business requirements. Customers can manage the data lifecycle by applying an archive policy for objects written to their object storage buckets in any of the storage classes (Smart Tier, Standard, Vault and Cold Vault). After the specified duration, objects are automatically archived. Objects transitioned from any storage class to Archive or that are restored from Archive do not incur a minimum storage duration charge associated with the storage class. Once archived, customers can restore a temporary copy of their objects when needed.

Archive (for “cold” archiving data)  A restore from Archive takes up to 12 hours. Archive has a minimum storage duration of 90 days.

Accelerated Archive (for “warm” archiving data)  A restore from Accelerated Archive takes up to 2 hours. Accelerated Archive has a minimum storage duration of 90 days.

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Archive benefits

Lowest cost

Archive is the lowest-cost option (data storage at USD 0.00099/GB/month and restores at USD 0.02/GB), ideal for long-term retention of large data sets such as regulatory and compliance records, large data set preservation and long-term storage of backups.

Data transition using archive policy

Archive works with all IBM Cloud Object Storage Classes — Smart Tier, Standard, Vault and Cold Vault — allowing you to apply age-based policies to move objects to the lower-cost archive to reduce storage costs even further.

Simplified API

You can use the IBM Cloud Object Storage API — with support for S3 API constructs — for transition lifecycle and restore. You can also write your own applications using IBM Cloud Object Storage SDKs.