Overview

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.

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Smart Tier details

Smart Tier is designed for the changing nature of data. It stores your ever-changing data without cost overruns and automatically bills 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. 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 charges¹.

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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 for active data, accessed multiple times a month. Data is immediately available when needed. There is no charge for data retrieved. Common use cases include streaming mobile and web content, DevOps, analytics, collaboration and active content repositories.

Vault (for less active data)

Use for less active data, accessed once a month or less. Data is immediately available when needed. A low retrieval charge applies for reading data. Vault includes a threshold for object size and storage period consistent with the intended use of this service for cooler, less active data. Common use cases include backup and digital asset retention.

Cold Vault (for cold data)

Use for cold data, accessed a few times a year. A larger retrieval charge applies for reading data. Cold Vault includes a threshold for object size and storage period consistent with the intended use of this service to store cold, inactive 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.

Archive details

The IBM Cloud Object Storage Archive and Accelerated Archive options are low-cost options for rarely accessed data that requires long-term retention. 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. 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 needed².

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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. Once archived, you can restore a temporary copy of the objects for access when needed (restore time may take up to 12 hours).

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.