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Aws AWS S3:
in Plain English


So, it's officially called Simple Storage Service and we joking refer to it as the Amazon Unlimited Internet File Server, but it's actully much better than even that.


WHAT DOES S3 DO?

It’s the place you put your files as a first step to doing something interesting with them. If you’re coming from a traditional web hosting background, it’s similar to how you’d FTP or SSH your files from your development.

It stores the images and other assets for websites, keeps backup and shares files between services, and hosts static websites. Also, many of the other AWS services write and read from S3.


WHAT MAKES IT SO AWESOME?

  • It’s a very safe, stable place to keep your files. You don’t have to worry about your server’s hard drive crashing and files being lost.
  • It won’t crash no matter how much traffic gets thrown at it - Amazon doesn’t actually come out and call it “hug of death” prevention but they should.
  • It’s very fast. Likely much faster at serving a file over the Internet than a server you’ve set up.

WHAT WOULD YOU USE S3 FOR?

STATIC WEB SERVER

If you have site that is just HTML + images, S3 is a fantastic way to host it. Many FTP clients have added the ability to connect with S3, making it very easy to get going.

The "FTP" Client Transmit's S3 config Aws s3 transmit

The process couldn’t be easier:

  1. Upload some files.
  2. Set their permissions to be viewable by anyone on the Internet.
  3. View the files in your web browser.

STORING LOTS OF USER GENERATED DATA

Nowadays, it is very common that web applications let users upload images for sharing or just to have a custom avatar.

At even a small scale this becomes a big storage issue. You’ll typically split the originally uploaded image up into a bunch of different sizes to handle different use cases.

Aws s3 resize

DATA ANALYSIS

You have a business that does lots of analysis of big text files (SEC filing documents, legal briefs or my unedited screenplay for Big Momma’s House 10). You’d first put these files onto S3 before pushing them around to other AWS services for analysis.

S3 is integrated enough that it will even kick off events for you. So when you upload your TPSReport-203043.txt, it can pass it off to another service to be processed.

OFFSITE BACKUPS

If you’re hosting your apps internally or with a non AWS web host, copying over backups from there is a great way to reduce your overall risk.


HOW TO GET STARTED

If you’d like to play around with the basics of S3 and get a feel for what it can do, I’d recommend the AWS tutorial on Setting up a Static Website. While simple, you’ll touch at least briefly on most of the AWS features.

Official Docs: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/HostingWebsiteOnS3Setup.html


Read this Next: S3 Buckets of Objects

Hey, this is sponsored by SendCheckIt - and by "sponsored" I mean that's what I've been working on instead of updating this list. If you send email newsletters you'll probably like it.