AWS CloudWatch

AWS CloudWatch enables observability in your cloud environment by compiling data from all AWS sources and visualizing them with metrics, dashboards, usage logs, and more.

By - Manish Kumar Barnwal
Updated on
August 21, 2023


What is AWS CloudWatch?

CloudWatch is designed to automatically collect and store monitoring data from AWS resources, applications, and services, making it easy for users to access and analyze this information. CloudWatch can be integrated with other AWS services like EC2, RDS, Lambda, and more, providing additional benefits to users.

CloudWatch offers features such as dashboards, alarms, logs, and events that allow users to visualize and analyze their operational data in real-time. By leveraging these features, users can proactively identify issues, optimize resource usage, and reduce costs.

What is AWS CloudWatch used for?

AWS CloudWatch is ideal for businesses that need to monitor and manage their AWS resources, applications, and services. It is suitable for users who require a centralized platform for tracking performance, identifying issues, and optimizing costs. CloudWatch is also beneficial for organizations looking to improve their operational efficiency and security posture.

By using CloudWatch, businesses can monitor their infrastructure and applications in real-time, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and quickly address issues. CloudWatch also provides insights into resource usage, allowing organizations to optimize costs and improve overall operational efficiency.

How does AWS CloudWatch Work?

AWS CloudWatch is a comprehensive monitoring and observability service that allows businesses to collect, analyze, and visualize operational data from their AWS resources, applications, and services. It provides a centralized and accessible platform for tracking performance, identifying issues, and optimizing costs.

CloudWatch enables users to collect and access metrics, logs, and events from various sources, making it an essential tool for organizations looking to monitor their infrastructure, applications, and services running on AWS.

Features & Advantages

AWS CloudWatch Services & Features

AWS CloudWatch offers a range of features that make it an essential tool for organizations using AWS:

  • Metrics: It collects and stores metrics from various sources, including AWS resources, applications, and custom metrics generated by the user. These metrics can be used to track performance, identify issues, and optimize costs.
  • Dashboards: CloudWatch allows users to create custom dashboards that display key metrics and data in real-time. This makes it easy for users to visualize and analyze their operational data at a glance.
  • Alarms:  It enables users to set alarms based on specific thresholds or conditions. When an alarm is triggered, CloudWatch can notify users or take automated actions to resolve the issue.
  • Logs: CloudWatch collects and stores log data from various sources, including AWS resources, applications, and custom log data generated by the user. Users can analyze log data to identify issues, optimize performance, and improve security.
  • Events: It captures and processes events from various sources, enabling users to respond to changes in their AWS environment. Events can be used to trigger automated actions, such as invoking Lambda functions or sending notifications.

Advantages of using AWS CloudWatch for Businesses

  1. Unified monitoring: CloudWatch provides a centralized platform for monitoring and managing AWS resources, applications, and services, making it easier for users to track performance, identify issues, and optimize costs.
  2. Real-time insights: It collects and stores operational data in real-time, allowing users to make data-driven decisions and quickly address issues.
  3. Cost optimization: CloudWatch provides insights into resource usage, enabling organizations to optimize their costs and improve overall operational efficiency.
  4. Security and compliance: It allows users to monitor and analyze log data, helping them identify security issues and maintain compliance with industry standards.


How much does AWS CloudWatch cost?

AWS CloudWatch offers two tiers: Free and Paid. There are no upfront or commitment fees for either tier, and the Free tier is a part of the AWS Free Tier that allows users to explore over 85 AWS products for free.

Is AWS CloudWatch Free?

The Amazon CloudWatch Free Tier is an "Always-free" service that includes the following features:

  • 10 unique metrics
  • 10 alarms
  • 1,000,000 API requests
  • Ingestion of 5 GB of log data and archiving of 5 GB of log data
  • 3 dashboards every month, each with up to 50 metrics

The Free Tier is generous, providing ample opportunity for users to explore CloudWatch and decide if upgrading to a paid subscription is worth the investment. You can learn more about the Free Tier pricing here.

CloudWatch Paid Tier

Amazon CloudWatch Paid Tier pricing varies by location, as it does for most AWS products, and it is subject to change. The cost of CloudWatch depends on the features you use, which include:

  • APIs and metric streams
  • Dashboards
  • Alarms
  • Logs/Events
  • Contributor insights
  • Canaries

Each feature comes with a different price tag, and some are more expensive than others. For more detailed information on AWS CloudWatch pricing, you can refer to this comprehensive AWS CloudWatch Pricing blog post.

AWS CloudWatch Pricing Table

Here is a pricing table for some of the most used AWS CloudWatch services:

Calculate your AWS CloudWatch Costs

To estimate the cost of AWS CloudWatch for your project, consider the following factors:

  1. Determine Metrics and Alarms: Estimate the number of custom metrics and alarms you'll need based on your monitoring requirements.
  2. Choose Monitoring Level: Decide between basic or detailed monitoring for your EC2 instances, considering the level of granularity you require.
  3. Estimate Log Data Volume: Calculate the volume of log data you expect to ingest and archive each month.
  4. Optimize Dashboards: Plan the number of dashboards you'll need and the number of metrics displayed on each.
  5. Factor in API Requests: Keep track of the number of API requests made to manage your monitoring configuration.

By considering these factors, you can estimate your AWS CloudWatch costs and make informed decisions about your monitoring needs.

Cost Optimization

How do I reduce AWS CloudWatch Costs?

Effectively optimizing your AWS CloudWatch costs involves strategically reducing expenses while maintaining the desired level of monitoring and insight into your AWS resources. Here are some tips and best practices for optimizing your CloudWatch costs:

1. Limit Detailed Monitoring

Detailed monitoring for Amazon EC2 instances, Auto Scaling group launch configurations, or API gateways can incur additional charges. To reduce costs, consider turning off detailed monitoring for these resources when they are not essential.

2. Monitor Custom Metrics Wisely

Monitoring more than ten custom metrics can result in additional charges. Custom metrics include those you create yourself, as well as those used by tools like the CloudWatch agent and application or OS data from EC2 instances. Be selective about the custom metrics you choose to monitor to minimize costs.

3. Optimize CloudWatch Metric API Calls

Charges for CloudWatch metric API calls vary and can exceed the AWS Free Tier limit. Frequent API calls made by third-party monitoring tools can increase costs. To optimize your API call expenses, monitor your API usage and adjust the frequency of calls as needed.

AWS CloudWatch Best Practices

Here are a few crucial best practices to keep in mind when using AWS CloudWatch.

1. Use CloudWatch Alarms Efficiently

Charges are incurred for each metric associated with a CloudWatch alarm. If you have a single alarm with multiple metrics, you'll be charged for each metric. To reduce costs, consider consolidating or eliminating alarms with low-value metrics.

2. Manage CloudWatch Dashboards

CloudWatch dashboard charges apply when you exceed three dashboards (with up to 50 metrics each). API calls to dashboard-related APIs through the AWS CLI or SDK also incur charges after exceeding the AWS Free Tier limit. To manage costs, use only necessary dashboards and minimize API calls.

3. Optimize CloudWatch Logs

Charges for Amazon CloudWatch Logs are based on ingestion, archival storage, and analysis. To reduce ingestion costs, re-evaluate logging levels and eliminate the ingestion of unnecessary logs. Furthermore, consider adjusting log retention periods to minimize storage costs and using cost-effective storage options.

By following these cost optimization tips and monitoring your usage, you can effectively manage your AWS CloudWatch expenses while maintaining the monitoring and insights needed for your AWS resources.

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