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Using AWS Cloud Storage for Off Site Data Backups

Using AWS Cloud Storage for Off Site Data Backups

Cloud Storage

Sometime ago a talked about using Cloud Storage to save your important files (http://angelo.papiccio.com/how-to-back-up-important-files). For most of your personal data this works fine. Products like Google Drive gives you 15GB of free online storage. If you are using Google Drive as your primary smart phone or tablet app to back up photos you can get unlimited storage for those photos (there are some caveats, read this article for details https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/206990-google-photos-unlimited-storage-for-free-with-a-few-gotchas). But what if you have far more than this, or your data I not limited to just photos?

What is AWS?

AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. It is a huge collection of Cloud Services including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and many more. It is designed on a pay as you go model. The one I am going to talk about today is AWS Glacier.

AWS Glacier

AWS Glacier is a very cheap cloud storage platform. It is designed primarily for “cold storage”, that is data that needs to be kept but rarely accessed. Archiving is one good example of this. There are some complex calculations on the charge plan around “requests” which includes the file transfer up as well as down, plus a charge on the storage.

Sounds complex? It sort of is. However the end result is still one of the cheapest alternatives to large sale offsite backups.

I’ll use my own example here.

Example: Important Photo Storage

Background

Jemma has collected many hundred of thousands of photo images over the years. Especially while she was studying for her Diploma in Digital Photography. A recommended backup practise for storing your precious memories is the 3-2-1 approach.

  • 3 Copies of you photos
  • 2 Different storage locations
  • 1 location is offsite

Once the photos are imported from Jemma’s camera unto her iMac I have automated processes to copy the photos on the hard drive to an external USB hard disk as well to my NAS (Network Area Storage) device.

Problem

I did have software copying to Jemma’s One Drive for Business which gives a Terabyte of Cloud Storage, however there are some limitations with OneDrive for Business (especially around the upper limit of file per library) which made this difficult to maintain.

On the other hand my NAS had the ability to connect directly to AWS Glacier and upload the files there. I was looking at 290,000 odd items at a total storage size of about 278GB.

Solution

My solution was to use AWS Glacier. Glacier costs approximately 0.005 cents AU per gigabyte stored. There is some similar pricing for data transfer but here is the break down of what I paid.

  • Initial upload of data (scheduled to run during my off peak times to prevent quota blow out) $12.67 AU
  • Second month cost $6.12 (this was because some more data was added)
  • Third month $3.12 (no change to the data)
  • Fourth month $3.12 (no change to the data)

So while the initial upload cost me a bit more the monthly storage amount is actually very cheap. Especially when you consider that AWS will guarantee you 99.99999% availability of data.

Caveat

So what’s the catch? Well you can’t retrieve the data quickly and it costs slightly more to retrieve it. You usually have a 4 to 5 hour wait before your restore begins. You are also paying for the retrieval.

But if you are using this as part of Disaster Recovery plan then in an event of DR you probably won’t mind paying a bit to get back precious data.

Conclusion

AWS Glacier is an ideal and easy to use option for the long term storage of important data. Glacier becomes a cost effective Disaster Recovery Solution.

Remember that you should always have a reliable on site backup procedure. Glacier is there to compliment not replace.

The Solution is very expandable and will give you 99.99999% availability to your data in the event of a Disaster.

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