Amazon S3 – worth every penny

23rd Feb 2009Tech,

Over the past year or two I’ve constantly been moving my data around, typically because I switch between needing lots of disk space to needing specific data available from anywhere–plus it’s important that it’s all kept safe.  Amazon S3 provides both: unlimited pay-as-you-go storage and it’s accessible from any computer connected to the Internet.  I’ve started using it for everything.  Client work, personal backups, purchased music, and serving static content to the web.

Plus, it’s perfect for the web services that I’m continually developing.  I haven’t worked on a single project recently that doesn’t need file upload/storage in some capacity, so it just makes perfect sense to store all of this data on Amazon’s infrastructure.  I don’t have to deal with backups or bandwidth, I just set it and forget it.

As a developer, you’re really adding a substantial amount of work if you plan on setting up MogileFS, GFS, or HDFS or even NFS (yuck) to store data on your own server(s).  If you’re a startup we both know you have a lack of engineers available to manage it, and I guarantee you’ll sleep better at night with the certainty that your files and your clients’ files are safe and secure.  Plus the initial cost of setting up your own would be nothing short of outrageous.

Cost may seem like a caveat.  At $0.15/GB per month the cost can definitely become substantial, particularly if you’re just using it for personal storage (500GB = $75 / month).  But what’s it worth to know that all your family photos are stored and redundant?  Your music collection is ready for playback even if your house blows up (you never know). The files that your clients expect you to have on hand are deliverable within minutes over the Internet.

It’s not enough for me to have an external hard drive on my desk backing up my data.  My stuff is too important for that.  I’m guessing you think yours is too.

A few recommended ways to get your hands dirty with S3: try Transmit, Drop Box, or S3Fox.

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