Using Amazon S3 for backup

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is cheap on-line storage with a Web Service interface. You just log in with your Amazon id, sign up for S3, designate a credit card, and that’s it. You now have access to pretty much unlimited storage space, managed by Amazon. The price is $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used (plus transfer costs). It was too tempting; I simply had to test it.

I used the Jungle Disk software to provide the mapping from the S3 web service interface to a network drive. You give Jungle Disk your S3 account information, and it provides a network disk which you can use as the backup device. I first tried my existing backup software (Synchronize! Pro X) and it happily began creating directories and copying files. I then tried the backup feature built into Jungle Disk, and it works fine too. It’s not fast compared to a local FireWire disk. It’s limited to your upload bandwidth, which often is substantially smaller than the download bandwidth.

Anyway, it has been tugging along today storing 5 GB of by digital photos. It feels pretty good to know that my photos are now stored encrypted and with 99.99% availability somewhere far far away, costing me only 75 cents per month after the initial $2 for the transfer.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. This really looks like a strong competitor for my final choice of backup solution. Looks cheap and reliable.

    I have tried out CrashPlan (http://www.crashplan.com) for a little while now and the idea is brilliant – to have you and your friends connect and backup on each others computers over the Internet in a simple and easy way with a tool that is easy to use – if it only wasn’t for one thing; namely, to rely on your friends.

    I wouldn’t want to find myself in the situation where one of my best friends messes up my backed up photos, for example. Even if I know I have my data backed up on other locations, it just doesn’t feel safe enough.

  2. I don’t want to rule out one or the other. Currently, I back up my photos weekly to S3 using the automatic backup in Jungle Disk. Our photos are irreplaceable, so the cost of a dollar or two per month for an off-site backup is nothing.

    I use Time Machine in Leopard to get the history and the daily changes backed up. I use Synchronize! Pro X to get a bootable snapshot of my hard drive. A bootable replica is very useful, not only to be back up and running in 30 seconds after a crash, but also for the ability to boot up your system on any other machine.

    CrashPlan seems to be a really interesting approach, possibly complementing the ones above. This is an efficient way of getting another off-site backup of your photos and home movies. You rely on the infra-structure of your buddies, and it’s not as safe and secure as Amazon S3. But then again, you and your buddies are all in the same boat, so to speak. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep the disks running and accessible.

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