The introduction of permanent storage is a remarkable technological advance. In light of all the benefits of permanent storage, however, one simple question often comes up: How much does it cost to use it?
How much does it cost to store on Arweave? The price to store data on Arweave is dynamic but tends to fluctuate within a narrow range of $1.50 to $4.00 per GB. In reality, for most uploaded files, this price difference will only be a fraction of a cent.
It is important to remember that the price to store on Arweave is a one-time payment for a minimum of 200 years of data storage (but likely, much, much longer). There are no subscription services and no ongoing service fees or 'rent' beyond the initial cost.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how much it costs to store on Arweave by looking at these topics:
- What is dynamic pricing?
- Applications that give you access to Arweave and how this affects cost
- How non-permanent storage options compare in price to Arweave
What is dynamic pricing and how does this work with the cost of storage on Arweave?
When people hear that the cost of storage for Arweave is dynamic, they often assume this is due to fluctuations in the cost of AR tokens used to purchase data.
If you visit a crypto exchange to buy the AR token you will notice the price can fluctuate throughout the day just like most other digital currencies. Cryptocurrencies trade 24/7 and can be highly volatile, climbing up or crashing down in price in a given week or month.
Does this changing AR token price affect the price of storage? Should I try to time the purchase of the token at lower prices to save on storage prices?
The short answer to both of these questions is no.
The price of storage on the Arweave network is not based on the AR token price. This is a common myth. Instead, the designers of the network have established a dynamic price for storage that is pegged to a USD per gigabyte.
The dynamic price to purchase storage is not based on the price of the token but on the difficulty of the network.
Difficulty of the network? What does that mean?
Arweave is maintained by a large decentralized network of people who store the data. And to keep on storing the data they must remain profitable.
Data storage incurs a number of different expenses like cost of the hardware and electricity. People who store data will use these metrics to determine how easy or difficult (or profitable) it is to work within a network.
Essentially, Arweave has a dynamic price to ensure that it will always be profitable to store data permanently despite the variables of data storage hardware and electricity costs.
Power outages or chip shortages may make you think there could be a sudden increase of costs. But in practice, the difficulty of the network does not swing so wildly that it bumps the permanent storage price beyond a this fairly narrow range.
Furthermore, as the price of data storage trends downwards over time (as it historically always has), and as the network becomes more popular, the price is only set to decrease.
So in sum, the dynamic price means is that you do not need to worry about the price of AR tokens. The actual upload price may fluctuate a bit, but the impact is usually minor - the increase or decrease of costs will be fractions of a cent for most files. That said, if you are uploading terabytes of information, you will want to try and time it when network costs are towards the lower end of the range.
The current dynamic price can always be found at arweavefees.com.
Applications built on top of Arweave
Everyone is welcome to store their files and data on the Arweave network. But not everyone is able to access Arweave to store their files. Sound confusing?
If you have the technical coding skills then you have unfettered access to upload your most important files onto Arweave directly. For the rest (and vast majority) of us, we need a little help.
When most people interact with Arweave (now and in the future) they will do it through applications built on top of the network.
As can be seen in the visual directory above, as a growing number of applications have been built on top of Arweave in the past four years to help people leverage permanent data.
A few of the more popular decentralized applications (dApps) include:
- ArDrive - encrypted file storage and organization platform
- Pianity - music NFT platform
- Koii - attention rewards protocol and node platform
- Verto - decentralized exchange for Arweave application tokens and creators of the ArConnect wallet
- Everpay - bridge from Arweave to other chains
- Sacrographus - dead man’s switch
For the services and convenience they provide, the above apps generally charge a small fee on top of the raw cost for data storage on the Arweave network.
For example, let's use look at how much it costs to use ArDrive to get your data onto the Arweave network.
How many files does 1 GB give you on the Arweave Network?
ArDrive allows files on the Arweave network to be encrypted, private, and organized in a digital file system called ArFS. For the convenience of accessing the permaweb through a friendly user interface, ArDrive charges a community fee of 15% on top of the Arweave network price.
To help understand what you are actually getting for the ArDrive price it is helpful to put it into tangible items. Here are a few examples of what 1 GB of storage will provide by category:
- 410 pictures
- 10 HD Videos
- 341 Songs
- 3,495 documents
A helpful tool to play around with what storage on Arweave costs is the ArDrive Price Calculator.
You will be able to put in different dollar amounts, file sizes or use the AR Token amount to give you an idea of the actual number of files you can upload.
How does this compare to non-permanent storage prices?
Comparing the price of permanent and immutable (cannot be changed) storage on Arweave to other non-permanent cloud storage options is not like comparing two numbers. It's more like apples and oranges given the difference between (and among) these options.
For instance, the cheapest data storage usually gets contributed to Amazon Web Services (AWS) at $0.023/GB. That is an extremely low-cost storage option. However, AWS is not a consumer-friendly product, and it is not immutable or permanent. This low-cost storage is used by developers, not for the average person or company.
If you look at more consumer-type products such as Dropbox or Google Drive the price will rise significantly. The prices for these products are always based on the ubiquitious subscription model and the storage will stop when you stop paying, and could be lost (it happens), unlike the one-time forever and permanent model of Arweave.
As well, if you look at a product like Dropbox, subscription pricing starts once you have uploaded more than 2 GB of data and the price rises again once you reach 2 TB.
So if you are only using 100-200 GBs of data on Dropbox, the cost per gigabyte can be quite expensive compared to using the full 2 terabytes in your plan. Most people do not get close to using the limit of available storage in their subscription plan.
With all of these products Arweave will always be the low cost storage provider over time. For an AWS it may take decades, however for a Dropbox the time span could only be a year or two.
COST COMPARISON (16 GB)
The following chart compares the cost of storing 16 GB of data over time. It assumes that monthly costs from traditional cloud providers will remain constant. ArDrive's cost may initially be higher but will provide substantive savings over time.
Chart Notes: Data compiled in February 2022. For 16 GB of data, Dropbox charges $9.99 per month; Google One charges $1.99 a month; ArDrive charges around $7.50 per GB.
With all of that being said, decentralized systems (like Arweave) will struggle to compete on cost alone. They have to win by offering products that can't exist otherwise.
This is exactly what Arweave does: it provides permanent and immutable data storage for the first time ever. This is what ArDrive does: it has made the access to permanent data storage convenient and secure.
When evaluating Arweave, people need to ask how much of a premium the combination of immutability and permanence should get. If it costs me $0.001 to store something important impermanently but $0.01 to store it forever, why even think about it?
The actual financial decision often comes down to fractions of a penny.
Try out Arweave for yourself!
The easiest way to get your files onto Arweave is through ArDrive.
It is a great feeling when you upload your first file and you know it is saved permanently on the Arweave blockweave.
ArDrive will let you know how much each file costs to upload before you do.
Try it out for yourself, and have fun putting your most important files into permanent storage!