What is Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)?

What is Amazon Simple Storage Service or S3?

Amazon's S3 cloud storage platform is an incredibly powerful and cost-effective service for storing large files like video and audio...yet many people don't even know it exists.

Amazon S3 is a web-based cloud storage service that allows you to organize, store, backup, and protect data and access it anywhere, at anytime, with multiple users.

You can store anything on S3 including videos, databases, and documents. Individuals can use it for personal storage, and big companies can use it to backup their operations and host website content.

Netflix, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, and Amazon itself all store data on S3. Offering several unique features, Amazon S3 is one of the top competing storage services on the market.


Storage Classes and Pricing Structure

Amazon S3 is unique for its storage and pricing structure. You can organize your data into three different storage classes. The first, and highest cost, is for frequently accessed data. The second, and middle cost, is for infrequently accessed data. And the third, and lowest cost, is for rarely accessed data.

The former two options, Standard and Infrequent Access, allow users to access their data immediately when needed. The latter option, Amazon Glacier, offers cheaper long-term storage in exchange for a longer wait time when you want to retrieve your data.

Amazon S3 uses objects and buckets to organize data, similar to files and folders. It also backs up and archives all data so you can return to a previous version of a file at any time. S3 is scalable, meaning there is unlimited capacity for storage, and you can always store more or less as needed. You are billed monthly for the amount of storage you used.

Amazon S3 is free to get started. After the initial allowance, storage is about 2 cents per GB up to 50 TB, but cheaper in bulk. Amazon Glacier is less than half a cent per GB. There are also charges for retrieving and adding data, but they cost fractions of a cent so it completely depends on your business as to whether this will affect your bottom line.


Who Can Benefit from Amazon S3?

S3 stands for "Simple Storage Service". Simplicity is a key part of the design, so it offers a clear interface for everyday users, as well as customizability for experts. You can access data with the regular interface, or with code. You can even choose where in the world you'd like your data to be stored.

If you're operating a business that requires a lot of storage, it is possible to store your own data, but it's a huge investment, and an equally huge risk. Even if you know exactly what you're doing and have all of the technical know-how, you can't tell the future.

You could easily overinvest in hardware you don't use, or underinvest and get stuck with more demand than you can handle. Many companies today, especially those with websites that host user-generated content or offer video streaming, require incredibly vast, yet flexible, storage. Amazon S3 is specifically designed to handle these requirements.

Security is also of paramount importance to many businesses. S3 makes copies of stored data across multiple devices, in multiple places around the world. This is not something most companies would invest in on their own.

S3 uses current security methods to protect data from being hacked, and offers different options of encryption and security management. Other companies are building off of S3 to offer additional security protections. S3 Media Maestro is a WordPress S3 video plugin which protects media you've embedded on your WordPress website from being shared publicly.

There are a lot of great reasons to give Amazon S3 a shot. The Amazon Web Services free trial gives you 5 free GBs to play around with and see if Amazon S3 is the right choice for your business or personal projects.

About Ben Arellano

Ben Arellano is one of the co-founders of Fly Plugins, creators of the first and most widely-implemented learning management system for WordPress, WP Courseware. Since 2012, he has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, corporate training departments, and higher education institutions develop and deploy online training courses from their WordPress websites.

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