Amazon S3, short for Amazon Simple Storage Service, is a secure, easy to use Internet storage web service specifically tailored to make web-scale computing a far less daunting task for developers. It is simply an Internet data storage platform that offers web services, individuals, and companies an interface where they can store and retrieve an unlimited amount of data from any location on the web and at any time. The service provides developers access to secure, reliable, fast, and highly scalable infrastructure run by Amazon’s global network at a much cheaper rate than they would pay elsewhere. It is a service designed to give developers maximum online storage benefits at an affordable cost.
There are several key features that make Amazon S3 a popular choice among developers and other major web service providers. For instance, you can store an unlimited amount of data, or number of objects. It is also a versatile data storage facility that allows you to read, write, or delete selected objects or data folders ranging in size from 1 byte up to 5 terabytes. Another great feature of this service is the bucket storage and retrieval system where each object is kept in a bucket and can only be retrieved using a unique key assigned to the developer. You can store a bucket in a region of your choice for enhanced latency, reduction of costs, or simply in accordance to your country’s regulatory requirements.
At present, Amazon S3 follows the United States standards in several locations including US West in Oregon and North California, the GovCloud for other United States regions, European Union region in Ireland, the Asia Pacific region in Singapore, Tokyo, and Sydney, and the South American region in Sao Paulo. Every object stored in a specific region remains in the region’s servers unless the developer decides to transfer the object to another region. Other important features include advanced authentication mechanisms for additional security, encryption options, the use of standard REST or SOAP interface designs which are compatible with all online development tool kits, flexibility that allows additional download protocols besides the default HTTP, and a guarantee of reliability backed by a Service Level Agreement from Amazon S3.
By default, all the data you save in Amazon S3 is secure and can only be accessed by the owner using resources created by the system. The system has several access control mechanisms and encryption for enhanced security in disk storage and data transit purposes. The service provides data protection from both physical and logical losses such as unintended user actions, infrastructure failures, and potential application errors. This online storage service has four access control mechanisms namely the Identity and Access Management policies (IAM), query string authentication, the Access Control Lists or ACLs, and bucket policies. IAM is best suited for organizations with a large number of employees where there is a need to regulate users who can access your bucket. ACLs provide selective permissions while bucket policies are used to add or deny user permissions all or some of the objects stored in a specific bucket. Query string authentication allows you to share objects in a bucket through URLs that have predefined expiration period. These policies provide flexibility and security in controlling who can access data, and how, when, and where the data can be accessed.
Unlike other similar service providers, Amazon S3 has a very flexible pricing. Basically you pay for what you actually use. The service does not come with a minimum fee. However, the costs usually depend on the location you choose to store data. The company charges less where their running costs are relatively less. You can estimate your monthly cost with the AWS simple monthly calculator provided at the site. There are other cost-related benefits in this service such as an ability to use Amazon’s Glacier storage facility which provides a low-cost storage option for data archival.
You can store data at Amazon Glacier for as little as $0.01 for 1 GB each month. This is great for data that is not frequently retrieved such as financial and healthcare records, long-term database backups, and digital media archives among others. Amazon S3 provides a highly durable and secure data storage infrastructure at a very affordable cost.
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