Despite Amazon being most well known for their retail services, they actually also offer a host of web services for developers and home users that take advantage of Amazon’s experience and scalability with massive amounts of data warehousing. One of those services is called S3, which stands for “Simple Storage Service“.
Here are 3 ways in which you can make use of Amazon S3 web services today.
Introduction & Amazon S3 Costs
S3 operates on a basis of paying only for what you use, with separate fees for storage, data transfer and data requests. Ignoring data request fees because the cost is minimal, the fees break down as follows:
5GB free, then $0.15/GB per month (100GB = $15)
Data Transfer (Upload)
Data Transfer (Download)
As an example then – if you used it to store 100GB of data – it would cost you $10 to upload it all, $15 per month to store it, and a further $15 when you decided to download it all again.
So what can you do with all that cloud storage?
Backup Your Computer Files
The most obvious use is for cloud-backup of your important files. While I don’t suggest you spend the next 6 months uploading your entire 4TB video collection to S3, they do claim to achieve 99.999999999% file durability, which means anything you upload will most certainly not get destroyed. For critical files you couldn’t stand to lose, it is the most cost effective and secure way of ensuring you have a solid backup.
To make the backup process simple, you’ll need some software to automate the process. Arq is the best option, but the price tag of $30 may be off-putting for some. However it does offer some fantastic features like being able to set a monthly backup budget. JungleDisk is a pay-monthly reseller ($3/month) that provides similar software. On the free side, S3BackupSystem is a capable utility for Windows.
Check out this site for 35+ more S3 backup and sync tools.
If you want to back up large amounts of data (more than 40GB), Mozy may be a more cost effective solution with their unlimited plans. However many users say that the speed is much slower than Amazon.
Backup Your Online Life
With the recent news of the possible demise of the Delicious bookmarking service, many of us realised that social feeds and online personas are something we might want to back up – but how do you back up your data when it’s stored in an online service? The answer is with Backupify and S3. Backupify, which offers a free 2GB/5 account plan, takes the data out of various social networks and online services, and stores it on an S3 account. If the thought of losing your Twitter feed makes you wince, it might be worth a look.
Store Large Downloads For Your Site
If you have large files that users can download from a website, like a podcast or videos, it works out cheaper to host them on Amazon s3 which means less stress on your server. In case you didn’t know, all of our fantastic free MakeUseOf guides are hosted on S3.
The Amazon s3 WordPress Plugin makes it super-easy to upload the files and make links from within the standard WordPress editor.
Host An Entire Website On S3
As long as your website consists only of static files, it’s actually possibly to host the whole thing on Amazon. The speed will be relatively fast compared to a shared hosting, and you’ll never have to worry about downtime. As a cost estimate, a 20-page website with about 10MB of files with 200 visitors a day would work out at about $5 a month to host on Amazon, and you’ll need to do a little editing of your domain name configuration to get it working. Unfortunately this won’t work for a dynamic database-driven website, such as a WordPress-based blog.
In terms of reliability, S3 offers perhaps the best uptime of any online service provider, no matter what you choose to use it for. The goal of Amazon S3 Web Services is not to offer a complete packaged product that you can just use though, but rather to offer the tools and services to build products on top of. It’s exciting to see what has been done so far, not just with S3 but with the entire range of services they offer that we will explore at a later date.
For now, let us know if you have other unique uses for S3 in the comments, or if you already make use of another cloud storage facility.
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