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Why Amazon AWS is a great backup option for anyone

Even though every day more and more companies are migrating not only their backups but also their infrastructure to Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services), you may not know how insanely cheap and nice it is to have your backups in Amazon AWS.

First of all, we want to clarify: “cheap” doesn’t always mean “bad”. Amazon does a great job setting up their infrastructure, so their availability and storage cost is cheap. This makes sense as cost of disk space and digital storage has gone down significantly over the last several years. With Amazon AWS there is a trade off: their backup services “are not easy to understand”. They have focused on setting up a DIY strategy geared to “experimenters” and early adopters that have the time and patience to understand their different backup services and how to set them up. They offer a lot of readily available customer support but at an important cost.

What Does Amazon AWS Offer?

Amazon offers different types of backup services for anyone (for personal use, businesses and even enterprise level users). They basically provide you with the infrastructure and the access to set it up and the rest is “up to you” and that’s what makes them very accessible in price (as mentioned above). I am going to try to explain briefly some of the backups services/types they have, what is each one for and also recommend you some apps you may want to try to use these backup services.

S3 Standard Backups

First, you have to know and decide: “how often do you think you will need to access your backups?” This is critical to know because this will define how much and what type of backups you need to have. If you need backups that are constantly done and very often needed (for high availability applications, to host images or static content, etc), then you will most likely want their S3 Standard Backups option. This option gives you access to your files whenever you need it, so if you have an emergency or failure  you won’t have to wait extended times to get the backup sets, or if you have some images that you need to embed into your email signature or you have a very small and static website of a couple of pages but you don’t currently have a hosting or don’t want to pay for hosting services for such small and simple thing you simply use this option and that’s it! Amazon’s pricing model is based on a combination of both storage space and data transfer (both ways, upload and download).  The transfer pricing in the S3 option for these files are inexpensive. The costlier side of S3 is the actual storage space. Both are metered in Gigabytes (GBs) so you must store there what you are really sure you will need in a short or medium time frame.

S3 Glacier Backups

Amazon also offers the S3 Glacier backups, think of these as backups to something that you don’t know if you are going to need ever again but if you do need it, it will be there for you to obtain it. If you are a personal user, these could be all the bunch of files that you have laying around on your desktop for “just in case” you want to open it someday.  It is important to understand that these backups are not for something you will need in an emergency situation or for mission critical files. The downside of this option is how long it will take to access these backup files. I am not talking about the actual transfer, as this is very fast, I am talking about the file being available. Once you upload a file or backup set and you “freeze” it, takes a few hours for the system to “notice” you have uploaded it. Even though you just uploaded something right this minute you won’t be able to see it or have access to download it for probably the next 4 or 5 hours. If you need to recover it faster you can pay an additional fee for that. On the flip side, this option is really cheap in regards to storage space (in GBs) you can use.  However, whenever you need to download or upload something to S3 Glacier, the transfer (in GBs) will cost more than the Standard transfer rates.


How to setup your backup strategies using AWS?

Amazon doesn’t provide you with any type of client software or programs to use these backup services. There are 3rd parties software vendors that have solved this issue. For servers and enterprise backups you can rely on its CLI, which allows power users and full stack developers to interact directly from command line

Do you still have questions about this or need help adopting an Amazon AWS backup strategy? Do you need engineers that can help you out automatizing your backups? Feel free to contact us, we are Amazon AWS experts and we will be certainly happy to help you out.