Earlier in the month I posted about the strategy I’ve been employing to back up my 24″ home computer. Using SuperDuper! and a 500-GB external drive attached to my Airport Extreme works great, but it doesn’t really solve the my-house-burned-down-and-now-I-lost-all-of-the-embarrassing-pictures-of-my-kids problem. To address that glaring deficiency I needed a way to move my backups offsite.
Enter Amazon S3. In their own words:
Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.
In other words, when I utilize S3 I rent a tiny little slice of Amazon’s massive infrastructure. The price is certainly right too. The storage is unlimited and costs $0.15/GB per month. Transferring the files to S3 costs $0.10/GB and from S3 $0.18/GB for the first 10 TB. My monthly cost is about $4.
As extensive as it is, S3 is designed to be technically simple. Unfortunately, technically simple doesn’t mean simple for the end user. To really use S3 most people are going to want a front-end tool. I chose Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk runs on OS X, Linux and Windows and costs only $20. When I start the Jungle Disk software, it appears just like any other drive on my OS X desktop. I can browse files and move things back and forth just like any other disk. I can also install Jungle Disk on all of my computers with one license which makes it ideal for storing files that you might need to access from work and home. If you’re concerned about Amazon snooping through your files, Jungle Disk will encrypt all of your data before it gets sent to S3.
I decided to spring for Jungle Disk Plus for another $1/month because I wanted to take advantage of block-level file updates and resumable uploads. Both of these features reduce the total amount of traffic that gets transferred.
All in all, I feel pretty safe at this point. I’ve got regular full-system backups that can be used to restore my system from scratch if I have a major hard drive crash, and I’ve got some insurance for my irreplaceable files. The next step will be increasing the amount of storage available at home. That 500-GB drive is pretty much full. I’m thinking Drobo.