Two weeks backing up to Amazon S3

It’s been two weeks since I started using Amazon’s Simple Storage Service in connection with Jungle DIsk as a synced backup solution for all my files. So far it’s been working great. Both S3 and Jungle Disk are great tools and they make a killer combination.

Amazon S3 lets users make ‘buckets’ which are storage units for all your files. The best metaphor is to think of them as being individual drives with their own independent directory structures. In fact, JungleDisk lets you mount them as Network Drives. I set up 3 buckets — one for my personal Subversion Repository (which contains my day-to-day use files), one for my photos and music, and one as a dump for large files like backups of software installers. On my daily work Mac Mini, I have all three buckets mounted as network drives. The media bucket is set to automatically scan and back up all my music and photos every monday morning. I set it to Monday morning because that is usually when I’m in class and my computer isn’t doing anything. My main Subversion repository lives on an older G4 that is currently in my college’s student server room. I only have the repository bucket mounted on that machine, which automatically backs up every Sunday at midnight. The third bucket is mounted only on my Mini. It is only set up as Network Drive, since I only occasionally have large files that need to be dumped. JungleDisk handles the automatic backups and makes sure that for large files, only the changed parts actually uploaded (because S3 charges for data transfer as well as storage).

On the S3 side, things are mostly smooth. I haven’t been billed yet, but I just checked my activity usage. My data upload is recorded at just over 23GB, which is roughly the amount I’ve backed up. What I’m slightly confused about is that the total storage usage only amounts to about 6.8GB and I’m being billed accordingly. I don’t have an explanation for why this is case (perhaps the storage amount used for billing is the amount of storage I used at certain days in the month) and a quick Google search didn’t reveal anything similar. I’ll keep an eye on this and will notify Amazon at the end of the month if I think that something unusual is going on.

Update: As JungleDave said on the first comment below, Amazon charges both on the basis of how much you’ve stored and for how long (which makes perfect sense). So by the end of the month, I should be getting a full bill. Thanks again to JungleDave.

I’ve had a good experience so far. You know an automated backup system is doing its job if you don’t give it a second thought after you’ve set it up. This was certainly the case with me. I hadn’t thought about my backups until I got a reader’s comment asking about how it was going. If you’re looking for a simple and cheap remote backup solution, I would certainly recommend an Amazon S3 + JungleDisk combo. The initial $20 price of JungleDisk is certainly worth it.

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Published by

Shrutarshi Basu

Programmer, writer and engineer, currently working out of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

6 thoughts on “Two weeks backing up to Amazon S3”

  1. Amazon shows storage usage on a byte-hour basis, so if you have 23GB stored for 1/4th of a month, it should show as 5.75GB (for example). As the month goes on the total will grow.

  2. You should also try smestorage.com if you use S3 – they have some great tools and integrations with stuff like Microsoft Office and iPhone.

  3. You should also try smestorage.com if you use S3 – they have some great tools and integrations with stuff like Microsoft Office and iPhone.

  4. Hi
    Thanks for the follow-up 🙂
    I have now the same setting and uploaded my initial backup the last 4 days. it works really nice!

    now looking for a way to put my website-backup on the S3 as well.. there’s surely something out there..

    cheers

  5. HI,

    I have noticed this post and I was asking myself if you are still using SE for your storage needs.

    Any update two years on? I am looking to find out the price you are paying as I am still unsure if this is a good option.

    Thanks,

    Nicola

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