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Making Simple Even Simpler: Looking at S3 Storage Options

Are you looking for a data storage service that offers you absolute security and retrievability?

If this is the case, you need to be aware of Amazon S3 storage. You already know Amazon as an e-commerce retailer, but you might not be aware of the data and web services that they offer.

One of the benefits of using Amazon for data storage is that you can be sure they have the infrastructure in place to keep your data safe and streamline your access to it.

But, before we get into the benefits and uses of Amazon S3, we need to learn more about the system itself. So, let’s dive in and start learning about what exactly Amazon S3 storage really is.

What Is Amazon S3 Storage?

Amazon S3 storage is what is referred to by Amazon as a cloud object storage service. Let’s break down what this means.

The word ‘object’ here does not mean a physical object. An object, in data terms, is any kind of configuration of data. It may be a simple set of values, or a dynamic software, or anything in between.

The ‘cloud’ here is perhaps a better-known term. It is short for the term cloud computing. It basically means that data is stored in a location other than where it is accessed.

For example, if you use Amazon S3 Storage, you are storing your data in an Amazon server located at one of their facilities. Data is then accessed via the internet.

S3 storage stands for Simple Storage Service. It is sometimes also referred to as AWS S3. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services.

Uses of Amazon S3 Storage

There is no single reason why you may want to use Amazon S3 storage. It is a useful service whether you are looking to store application data, secure your business data, or meet compliance standards.

Let’s have a look at the primary uses of S3 Storage. Hopefully, we can answer most of the S3 storage faqs.

Internet Storage

If you operate an internet site, you are likely going to have a large number of data loaded onto it. For example, most websites will have a lot of images and videos.

These files can be very slow to load if they are being uploaded from lower-grade servers. S3 offers fast access so that your website users have a smooth experience. Aside from being used by Amazon itself, other big companies like Airbnb and Netflix trust the service as well.

Backup

If you are operating a business, it is essential that you keep your data backed up in multiple locations. Data breaches and leaks can cost your business a lot of money. Not only will business performance drop, but you will lose customer confidence and hurt your brand reputation.

On top of this, if you suffer a ransomware attack, you may have to pay significant amounts of money to get your data back. By having it backed up in multiple locations, you can avoid paying the ransom.

Compliance Archiving

Depending on the business you operate and the jurisdiction in which you operate, you may be legally obliged to archive data. This is so that a record is available if legal issues arise in the future.

Being able to archive data in a cloud system allows you to affordably keep it in storage while keeping your facility decluttered.

Analytics

If you are storing large amounts of data and need to analyze it, you can run any necessary operations remotely. S3 is compatible with many third-party integrations so you can bring in tools to run your analyses.

So, not only can you use S3 as a static storage facility, but you can also transform it into a dynamic site integrated into your workflows.

Benefits of Amazon S3 Storage

Amazon S3 is more than just a storage resource. There are other features to the service that make it more than just server space. Let’s look at the key features.

Security

Amazon’s infrastructure is hard to beat for security. It has more protections against leaks and breaches than you are likely to be able to implement on your data locally.

But a second security feature is the way that S3 allows you to customize your own security options. You can segment your data into ‘buckets’ to allow limited access to some users. You can also grant access to single files or the entire data object.

Constant Access

Storing data in another location may make you think the access will be an issue. But Amazon guarantees 99.99% access. This is important for you in being able to keep delivering to your clients.

The other good thing is that S3 storage comes with a number of different access levels. You will pay more for instant access to your data. But, if you are looking for long-term storage with infrequent access, the cost will be much lower.

Low Cost

Amazon is able to offer much lower prices than competitors because of the scale of its operations. It offers competitive pricing across a range of storage plans so you only pay for what you actually need. See below for a full discussion of costs.

Simple Migration and Management

Although you can store large amounts of data with Amazon S3 storage, it is actually quite easy to migrate data in and out of the server. A simple interface means no specialist expertise is required.

Also, because the interface is so usable, it is easier to run analytics and remotely manage data.

Amazon S3 Storage Classes

Amazon offers a number of different storage class options so that you can scale your operations. It also means that you can stratify your data — keep some data available at all times while keeping other data in long-term (cheaper) storage.

S3 Standard: This is Amazon’s general-purpose solution. It can be used for a number of applications, such as website hosting and data analytics. With life-cycle policies, you can transfer data in and out to economize storage costs.

S3 Intelligent Tiering: The Intelligent Tiering class is essentially the same as S3 Standard, but it is geared towards dynamic access. You can switch data objects in and out of access tiers to economize on storage costs.

S3 Standard-IA: IA stands for Infrequent Access. This is something like a middle-ground option. You pay a lower rate for not accessing often, but you do get quick access when you need it.

S3 One Zone-IA: Another infrequent access option, S3 One Zone is different in that data is only stored in one location. This makes it 20% cheaper than other S3 options.

S3 Glacier: This is a long-term storage option. There are different levels within glacier storage allowing access at a range of speeds. But it is not designed to be accessed dynamically.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive: This is Amazon’s cheapest option for storage. Because of its affordability, data is designed to be accessed no more than one or two times a year and access times are slow.

Amazon S3 Storage Costs

AWS S3 storage ranges in price depending on two factors: the storage class and size of the data object. You will pay for data on a per-gigabyte basis. But, if you store larger numbers of data, your price will scale down accordingly.

Let’s Look at the costs for each S3 Storage class.

S3 Standard: S£ standard starts out at $0.023 per GB, per month. That is the figure for the first 50TB. However, the price goes down to $0.022 for the next 450TB, and anything over 500TB is $0.021.

S3 Intelligent Tiering: The prices for S3 Intelligent Tiering are the same as S3 Standard. But, if you don’t access data frequently, the price goes down to $0.0125 per GB, per month.

S3 Standard-IA: Infrequent Access charges the same rate as data accessed infrequently in the Intelligent Tiering setup. So, $0.0125 per GB, per month.

S3 One Zone-IA: As stated above, One-Zone IA comes with a 20% discount for storing data in only one place. Storage is $0.01 per GB, per month.

S3 Glacier: The basic glacier system costs $0.004 per GB, per month.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive: The cheapest S3 storage option, Glacier Deep Archive costs $0.00099 per GB, per month

S3 Storage Is a Multi-Leveled Solution

You should now have a pretty good idea of the ins and outs of S3 storage. But, the important thing to take away is that S3 storage is not a simple one-size-fits-all-service.

There are different ways that you can use Amazon S3, and you can also change the way you use it over time. The key is to find out what exactly you are looking for from your data storage service and work out how you can put a nuanced storage plan in place.

Think about which data you need often, and which data you don’t. Once you’ve worked that out, you only need to set up an account!

If you’ve found this information useful, why not check out some of our other great articles on tech and business solutions?

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