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Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)


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Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is storage for the Internet. Amazon S3 is an online storage web service offered by Amazon Web Services. Amazon S3 provides unlimited storage through a simple web services interface. It is designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple Web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Web.

Many small start-ups and enterprise clients use S3 as a web hosting service, image hosting service, back-up system, and more.

It gives any business access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of Web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to businesses.

I haven't had a good system for doing off site backups. But that changed when I discovered the Amazon S3 online storage service which, when used with the inexpensive ($20) software program Jungle Disk, provides a cheap, easy way to back up your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer online. Storage prices for Amazon S3 are staggeringly cheap.

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It's primarily designed as a storage service for people developing online applications, but there's no reason you can't use it for data storage (which is what I do) and personal backup.

Amazon charges an unbelievable $0.15 cents per month per gigabyte of storage, and $0.20 per gigabyte transferred. I have 3 GB of data that needs backing up (I know not much compared to other geeks), I can back it up for roughly 2 bucks the first month, and about 85 cents for each subsequent month.

Jungle Disk, which is a $20 software program that allows me to use S3; is a desktop interface for S3 with versions available for the Mac, Windows, and Linux.

It took about 24 hours to make my initial transfer of 3 GB of data to S3. This process is done silently in the background while you continue working on your computer or are away from your computer. Just set up Jungle Disk and forget it. It runs automatically, at regular intervals that can be set by the you: Weekly, daily, every six hours, every fifteen minutes, etc. You can also set it to run manually. When an update is scheduled it will scan your source drive(s) and/or directories and update the S3 files for only those files that have been modified in your local computer.

Other online backup services set limits on how much you can back up and are unacceptable because they charge exorbitant data fees. For example, AT&T Online Vault wants $5.95 per month for the first 2 GB, and then $2 per month per GB after that. That's more than 13 times as much as Amazon charges!

I've experienced two hard disk crashes in the last 20 years. That's not frequent, but when it happens it is a disaster. If you're not backed up, your data, including important work files are gone forever. Local backups use an external USB drive and are useful, but not enough. If there's a fire or some other disaster in your home or office, your local backups might well be destroyed along with your computer.

Jungle Disk doesn't just manage backups, it also allows you to access S3 as if it were just another local disk drive. Jungle Disk once installed will simply map your S3 account files to your computer like a regular disk drive. So you can use S3 as online storage for files you share between multiple PCs.

If you are not at your computer there is a web interface where you can log into a web site and browse through your archive and download or even edit text based files.

I hartily recommend the Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). It is easy enough to setup and configure and use for most small business owners who have experience running an online business.

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