Amazon Neptune storage, reliability and availability - Amazon Neptune

Amazon Neptune storage, reliability and availability

Amazon Neptune uses a distributed and shared storage architecture that scales automatically as your database storage needs grow.

Neptune data is stored in a cluster volume, which is a single, virtual volume that uses Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSD-based drives. The cluster volume consists of a collection of logical blocks known as segments. Each of these segments is allocated 10 gigabytes (GB) of storage. The data in each segment is replicated into six copies, which are then allocated across three availability zones (AZs) in the AWS Region where the DB cluster resides.

When a Neptune DB cluster is created, it is allocated a single segment of 10 GB. As the volume of data increases and exceeds the currently allocated storage, Neptune automatically expands the cluster volume by adding new segments. A Neptune cluster volume can grow to a maximum size of 128 tebibytes (TiB) in all supported regions except China and GovCloud, where it is limited to 64 TiB. For engine releases earlier than Release: (2020-03-09), however, the size of cluster volumes is limited to 64 TiB in all regions.

The DB cluster volume contains all your user data, indices and dictionaries (described in the Neptune Graph Data Model section, as well as internal metadata such as internal transaction logs. All this graph data, including indices and internal logs, cannot exceed the maximum size of the cluster volume.

I/O–Optimized storage option

Neptune offers two pricing models for storage:

  • Standard storage   –   Standard storage provides cost-effective database storage for applications with moderate to low I/O usage.

  • I/O–Optimized storage   –   With I/O–Optimized storage, you pay only for the storage you are using, at a higher cost than for standard storage, and you pay nothing for the I/O that you use.

    I/O–Optimized storage is designed to meet the needs of I/O–intensive graph workloads at a predictable cost, with low I/O latency and consistent I/O throughput.

    For more information, see I/O–Optimized storage.

Neptune storage allocation

Even though a Neptune cluster volume can grow to 128 TiB (or 64 TiB in a few regions), you are only charged for the space actually allocated. The total space allocated is determined by the storage high water mark, which is the maximum amount allocated to the cluster volume at any time during its existence.

This means that even if user data is removed from a cluster volume, such as by a drop query like g.V().drop(), the total allocated space remains the same. Neptune does automatically optimize the unused allocated space for reuse in the future.

In addition to user data, two additional types of content consume internal storage space, namely dictionary data and internal transaction logs. Although dictionary data is stored with graph data, it persists indefinitely, even when the graph data it supports has been deleted, which means that entries can be re-used if data is re-introduced. Internal log data is stored in a separate internal storage space that has its own high water mark. When an internal log expires, the storage it occupied can be re-used for other logs, but not for graph data. The amount of internal space that has been allocated for logs is included in the total space reported by the VolumeBytesUsed CloudWatch metric.

Check Storage best practices for ways to keep allocated storage to a minimum and to re-use space.

Neptune storage billing

Storage costs are billed based on the storage high water mark, as described above. Although your data is replicated into six copies, you are only billed for one copy of the data.

You can determine what the current storage high water mark of your DB cluster is by monitoring the VolumeBytesUsed CloudWatch metric (see Monitoring Neptune Using Amazon CloudWatch).

Other factors that can affect your Neptune storage costs include database snapshots and backup, which are billed separately as backup storage and are based on the Neptune storage costs (see CloudWatch metrics that are useful for managing Neptune backup storage.

If you create a clone of your database, however, the clone points to the same cluster volume that your DB cluster itself uses, so there is no additional storage charge for the original data. Subsequent changes to the clone use the copy-on-write protocol, and do result in additional storage costs.

For more Neptune pricing information, see Amazon Neptune Pricing.

Neptune storage best practices

Because certain types of data consume permanent storage in Neptune, use these best practices to avoid large spikes in storage growth:

  • When designing your graph data model, avoid as much as possible using property keys and user-facing values that are temporary in nature.

  • If you plan on making changes to your data model, do not load data onto an existing DB cluster using the new model until you have cleared the data in that DB cluster using the fast reset API. The best thing is often to load data that uses a new model onto a new DB cluster.

  • Transactions that operate on large amounts of data generate correspondingly large internal logs, which can permanently increase the high water mark of the internal log space. For example, a single transaction that deletes all the data in your DB cluster could generate a huge internal log that would require allocating a great deal of internal storage and thus permanently reduce space available for graph data.

    To avoid this, split large transactions into smaller ones and allow time between them so that the associated internal logs have a chance to expire and release their internal storage for re-use by subsequent logs.

  • For monitoring the growth of your Neptune cluster volume, you can set a CloudWatch alarm on the VolumeBytesUsed CloudWatch metric. This can be particularly helpful if your data is reaching the maximum size of the cluster volume. For more information, see Using Amazon CloudWatch alarms.

The only way to shrink the storage space used by your DB cluster when you have a large amount of unused allocated space is to export all the data in your graph and then reload it into a new DB cluster. See Neptune's data export service and utility for an easy way to export data from a DB cluster, and Neptune's bulk loader for an easy way to import data back into Neptune.


Creating and restoring a snapshot does not reduce the amount of storage allocated for your DB cluster, because a snapshot retains the original image of the cluster's underlying storage. If a substantial amount of your allocated storage is not being used, the only way to shrink the amount of allocated storage is to export your graph data and reload it into a new DB cluster.

Neptune storage reliability and high availability

Amazon Neptune is designed to be reliable, durable, and fault tolerant.

The fact that six copies of your Neptune data are maintained across three availability zones (AZs) ensures that storage of the data is highly durable, with very low likelihood of data loss. The data is replicated automatically across the availability zones regardless of whether there are DB instances in them, and the amount of replication is independent of the number of DB instances in your cluster.

This means that you can add a read-replica quickly, because Neptune doesn't make a new copy of the graph data. Instead, the read-replica connects to the cluster volume that already contains your data. Similarly, removing a read-replica doesn't remove any of the underlying data.

You can delete the cluster volume and its data only after deleting all of its DB instances.

Neptune also automatically detects failures in the segments that make up the cluster volume. When a copy of the data in a segment is corrupted, Neptune immediately repairs that segment, using other copies of the data within the same segment to ensure that the repaired data is current. As a result, Neptune avoids data loss and reduces the need to a perform point-in-time restore to recover from a disk failure.