Amazon S3 – Amazon Simple Storage Service

March 14 last year, Amazon launched Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). At the time, you could only program against an API to use the service to transfer files, so I waited for a while, convinced that proper services would be offered. Now that day is here!

Actually, I was going to write this post in last November since most options already existed back then, but I encountered a problem when trying to access my Amazon account (more on that below). Anyway, the idea with Amazon S3 is that you can store any amount of data for a very low cost on their servers, and use it as a secure back-up.


Current pricing

$0.15 per GB-Month of storage used
Data Transfer
$0.20 per GB – data uploaded
$0.20 per GB – data downloaded

Pricing as of June 1st 2007

$0.15 per GB-Month of storage used
Data Transfer
$0.10 per GB – all data uploaded
$0.18 per GB – first 10 TB / month data downloaded
$0.16 per GB – next 40 TB / month data downloaded
$0.13 per GB – data downloaded / month over 50 TB
$0.01 per 1,000 PUT or LIST requests
$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests (No charge for delete requests)

Basically, what this means is that I pay about 20 – 24$ a year for a safe and reliable backup of about 10 GB of data. Not too shabby, eh? :-)

Third-party tools

Available on the market is an abundance of third-party tools, and amongst them I’ve found JungleDisk to be ultimately superior. It uses a local WebDAV server and basically it works just like connecting an external drive. Other recommended options are:

Jungle Disk

Since transfers seems to fail now and then (it kind of makes me sometimes actually wonder about the reliability), it’s great o use a tool like JungleDisk, because it will keep trying to transfer your files, automatically, in the background if the initial transfer fails. It also stores your files locally, so no transfer fees are applicable for watching existing files if they’re in the local Jungle Disk cache.

The downside of this is that you might have duplicates of your files; one copy on your hard drive in its original location, and one copy on the WebDAV server. Personally, I only keep files on the WebDAV server that that I frequently watch, the other ones are removed.

Use the program

It will show up on your Desktop on Mac and in the System Tray in Windows:

On Mac

A picture of the Desktop icon on a Mac

In Windows

A picture of the System Tray icon in Windows

Moving files

Since it works just as an external drive, it’s accessible through the Finder respectively Explorer. You just drag ‘n’ drop your files into it or copy and paste.

On Mac

A picture of the Finder with Jungle Disk on Mac

In Windows

A picture of the Windows Explorer with Jungle Disk in Windows

Monitoring transfers

When files are being transferred, you can use the Jungle Disk Activity Monitor to overlook operations:

On Mac

A picture of the Jungle Disk Activity Monitor on Mac

In Windows

A picture of the Jungle Disk Activity Monitor in Windows

Not hassle-free

When I first set up my account and used various third-party software to access my account, I got this error:

AccountProblem – There is a problem with your AWS account that prevents the request from being served. Please contact customer service.

After that, I repeatedly contacted customer service, but they had no idea what the problem could be. We e-mailed back and forth for some days (they’re good at fast replies, I give them that at least), but to no avail. After some Googling, I eventually found that this problem was related to my payment information. I contacted customer service again, but no, they said things should work, or something was wrong with my middle-ware product.

So, what I did was to create a new account at Amazon, with the exact same information about me and payment information, and it worked from day one. therefore, I naturally had to contact them to show this, but they still refused that there were any problem at their end whatsoever with my initial account. Yeah, right…


If you’re looking for safe and very cheap backup, I would really recommend Amazon S3. No need to worry about malfunctioning external disk drives, burning backup CDs/DVDs all the time or other issues. Transfer the files to Amazon and you’re safe!

Posted in Reviews/tests,Technology |

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