S3 for Backup, Is It Worth It?

I’ve been using Amazon’s S3 to back up my blog for a while now, and I really like it for that purpose. The amount of data my blog has is very little, so I end up getting billed $0.01 a month. It probably costs Amazon more money to bill me then they make off of me! This has got me looking at using S3 to backup ELUNA‘s document repository. Currently, we have about 12 GB of data. Assuming we transfer all 12 GB in and out each month (which we wouldn’t, but I’m just saying) it comes out to $4.65 a month for regular storage and $4.05 for reduced redundancy storage according to the AWS calculator. Not bad – especially considering this is certainly an over-estimate (providing we don’t actually need to restore, which in that case I’m not worried about a few bucks to get my data back!). I have other free-to-me options, but this seems like a pretty good deal to me and is something I am considering suggesting to ELUNA.

However, does Amazon S3 scale as a backup solution for my library? It does, but I think only to a point. Let’s say you have 500 GB of images, video, and other data. It will cost you $50 a month for Reduced Redundancy and $75 a month for regular storage (and can you imagine telling the boss, I’m sorry, Amazon lost our data, we were using the Reduced Redundancy plan? I don’t think so.) – not counting data transfer which could double the costs. That is $600 to $900 a year. Maybe that is still reasonable depending on the nature of your project, but you can see it grows quickly to a point where other, local, options that you have more control of our looking more and more reasonable.

We are lucky enough to have a campus-wide IT department that does a good job handling backups so this isn’t something we are considering here in the library, but it seems to me that it could be a good solution if you hit the sweet spot when compared to local storage options. Obviously, the advantage of Amazon being off-site storage is something that shouldn’t be overlooked, which makes the sweet-spot a little higher price range. I have multiple locations I could store a network-based backup up device, so that isn’t as huge of a deal for me. Still, I’d say it is worth other libraries investigating if they have non-huge data that need to be backed up.


  1. Peter Murray said,

    July 6, 2010 at 14:07:46

    Keep in mind that Amazon makes no guarantees about holding onto the files. They make commitments about the availability of the service, but not of the files themselves. A while back I did a comparison of Amazon’s S3 and OCLC’s “Digital Archive” service that goes into these details and a little bit more.

  2. ecorrado said,

    July 6, 2010 at 14:07:17

    Peter, thanks for the link to your comparison. I just skimmed it and it is really useful. OCLC’s digital archive is definitely more geared towards preservation then S3.