Build apps for free with Azure Cosmos DB Free Tier

Deborah Chen

This blog post was co-authored by Nikisha Reyes-Grange, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Azure Marketing.

Introducing Azure Cosmos DB Free Tier

Looking to build a new app, develop and test, or run small production workloads with Azure Cosmos DB? Our new Free Tier makes it easy to get started with no cost and save money as you build and grow new apps.

With Azure Cosmos DB Free Tier enabled, you’ll get the first 400 RU/s throughput and 5 GB storage in your account for free each month, for the lifetime of the account. That means that you can start small and grow with confidence, knowing your app will be running on a high-performance database service. You’ll only pay if your account exceeds 400 RU/s and 5 GB. Additionally, if your app has a lot of containers you can create up to 25 containers in a shared throughput database and have them all share the free 400 RU/s. You can have up to one free tier Azure Cosmos DB account per Azure subscription.

TIP: If you have multiple regions, the 400 RU/s and 5 GB discount apply to just the first region, so if you want to keep your account entirely free, stick to 400 RU/s and 5 GB in a single region.


Enable free tier discount when creating a new Azure Cosmos DB account in the Portal

What can you build with free tier?

We asked members of our developer community for examples of apps with 400 RU/s and 5 GB of storage, and got lots of great examples of apps they’ve built: an Alexa app to help commuters use public transportation, and a web app to easily manage and share lists of online resources. We’ll be highlighting some of these developers and their apps in the coming weeks and months.

Have an app running on less than 400 RU/s throughput and 5 GBs storage? Tell us about it – we’d love to feature you.

Get started

Create a new Azure Cosmos DB account and activate free tier during account creation. There is a limit of one free tier account per Azure subscription. Check out our quickstarts and tutorials or try out a sample notebook to see what you can do with Azure Cosmos DB.

See the Azure Cosmos DB pricing page for more details.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Q: Didn’t you already offer free options? What’s new?

A: We have always offered ways to try Azure Cosmos DB for free – as part of Azure Free Account, with a local emulator, and as a 30-day free trial – but those options have been limited in availability and scope. Free Tier is available in perpetuity (maximum of one account per subscription).

Q: How does the Free Tier discount show up on my bill?

A: In Free Tier accounts, you’ll get the first 400 RU/s and 5 GB of storage in your account for free. Any RU/s and storage beyond 400 RU/s and 5 GB will be billed at the regular pricing rates per the pricing page. On the bill, you will not see a charge or line item for the free 400 Ru/s and 5 GB, only the RU/s and storage beyond what is covered by free tier.

Q: Can Free Tier apply to all the Azure Cosmos DB APIs?

Yes, Free Tier works for all Azure Cosmos DB APIs – including Core (SQL), API for MongoDB, Cassandra, and Gremlin.

Q: Can I apply the Free Tier discount to autopilot databases and containers?

A: Yes. With autopilot, you’re billed for the highest RU/s the database or container scales to in the hour. When the free tier discount is applied, 400 RU/s will be subtracted from that value. See our documentation for examples and details.

Q: How does Free Tier discount work if I have an account with multiple regions?

A: In multi-region accounts, the RU/s of the database or container is replicated in all regions. For example, if you have a container with 400 RU/s and the account is in 3 regions, the total RU/s of the account is 1200 RU/s. When the discount is applied, you will be billed for 1200 RU/s – 400 RU/s = 800 RU/s per hour. See our documentation for examples and details.

Q: I already have an account and want to move my data into a Free Tier account. How do I do this?

A: Once your new account is created and activated with Free Tier, moving existing data into your new account is simple. The Data Migration Tool can be used to migrate smaller datasets if you are using our Core (SQL) API. You can also migrate your data with Azure Data Factory connectors for the Azure Cosmos DB Core (SQL) API and Azure Cosmos DB API for MongoDB.

Q: The option to enable Free Tier when creating a new account in the Azure Portal isn’t appearing. Where is the option?

A: You can have up to one Free Tier account in an Azure subscription. If the option doesn’t appear, this means another account in the subscription is already enabled with Free Tier.