Amazon S3 is a service that allows you to host files of all kinds very cheaply. You can host images and podcast files to take the strain off the server that runs your website; you can hook into the API and use S3 to store data uploaded by users in a web app. You could even backup your personal files from your computer to S3. With a maximum individual file size of 5GB, it’s perfect for distributing an independent film or software.
One major point of confusion with S3 is pricing. How much does it cost, really?
- You pay $0.15 per gigabyte stored, on a monthly basis. If you store truly massive amounts of data (upwards of 50 terabytes), you get a small per-gigabyte discount. If you have 1GB sitting on S3 for a year, you will pay $1.80 for the entire year.
- You then pay for the amount of data transfer each month. Pricing starts at $0.17 per gigabyte transferred. (If you are able to have more than 10TB worth of data transfer each month, you will pay the first discount tier’s rates, $0.13/GB.)
- There are very minimal charges for file management requests such as COPY, POST, and LIST. They end up being “$0.01 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests” and “$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests,” with fees waived for DELETE requests.
- Prices vary slightly depending on the geographic locations of the datacenters. According to the FAQ page, it doesn’t matter where you live: Anybody can use S3. It’s the location of specific data that determines price.
No setup fees, no long-term contracts. Just pay-as-you-go. (Sadly, PayPal is not an option for payment.)
Amazon S3 seems to be a stable and cheap way to store various types of data. It’s trusted by large sites like Twitter, Envato, and SmugMug, among others. I would definitely consider it if I really got into something like podcasting, and didn’t want to cripple my server from large file downloads.