Amazon Glacier Lets You Back Up Your Entire Photo Library on the Cheap

The number one reason for data loss is human error, and one of the other major reasons is the failure of storage mediums. When examining ways to store digital photos for a lifetime back in 2009, we noted that entrusting your data to the servers and engineers of major cloud companies (e.g. Amazon and its S3) was a better option than trying to back up your data yourself. Even though Amazon’s S3 has long been an attractive option — after all, many online photo sharing services use it for storing your data — its pricing of around around $0.14/GB/month means that storing just a terabyte costs $100+/month.

That changes today with the introduction of Amazon Glacier. It’s a new uber-low-cost storage service for people who just want a place to dump their data without having to worry about it. Pricing starts at a crazy-low $0.01/GB/month.

If you have 5 terabytes of data you need to back up, you’ll only be paying $50 per month instead of the $550+ you’d be paying with S3.

The tradeoff of the whole thing is that the service is geared towards long term archiving and infrequently accessed data. Reading the data is extremely slow, so it’s great for keeping your data safe long term but not for you if you need to constantly work with the images.

Here’s what Amazon’s senior cloud computing manager Jeff Barr says about the service:

Glacier will store your data with high durability (the service is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% per archive). Behind the scenes, Glacier performs systematic data integrity checks and heals itself as necessary with no intervention on your part. There’s plenty of redundancy and Glacier can sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.

[…] S3 is optimized for rapid retrieval (generally tens to hundreds of milliseconds per request). Glacier is not (we didn’t call it Glacier for nothing). With Glacier, your retrieval requests are queued up and honored at a somewhat leisurely pace. Your archive will be available for downloading in 3 to 5 hours.

Until some consumer-oriented apps are available, using the service might be a bit difficult for non-techie folk. Once they are, however, this looks like it will be one heck of an option for making sure your digital files live as long as you do.

Image credit: Glacier, South Shetlands by Alistair Knock

  • iamadamb

    Offsite cold storage here I come

  • eric westpheling

    boo! I had just finished setting up my archives with JungleDisk!

  • Guest

    not really worth it. instead of paying 50$/month for 5TB you could also get 4x 2TB WesternDigital Raid Edition (made for 24/7 usage; around 230$ each) HDDs and put them in a NAS (or just any other computer housing) and set up a RAID 5 where you have 6 TB (or take 5x 2TB and get 8TB of usable storage with RAID 5). or alternatively you could also buy external hard drives, store your data on them (then always twice to be safe = manually done RAID 1) and put them in a safe place (storage room, bank safe, etc.). calculating with 200$ / HDD (WD Model: WD2003FYYS) and 200$ for a casing (including power supply, small CPU, RAM, motherboard, etc.) you’d be at 1000$ initial costs. so after about two years (20 months) this solution would become cheaper. you could of course get a lot cheaper HDDs than WD RE4.

  • ronbrinkmann

    The price is definitely better than something based on S3, but really, why not just use an unlimited-backup service like Backblaze? ( if you want to give me affiliate-code loving :-))

    I’ve got over a terabyte of photos uploaded there, it supports external hard drives as well as internal (unlike carbonite, for example), and I pay like $50/year. Per year, not per month. And it generally only takes minutes rather than hours to access specific files if I need to restore them.

    Now I don’t rely completely on Backblaze – I’ve also got double local copies… and with 2TB disks costing around $100 it’s silly not to do both.

  • Jj

    Because you are comparing apples and oranges. Backblaze is a backup solution, not an archive. If you delete a file from your local system, Backblaze will delete the backup as well.

  • Joakim Bidebo

    It is worth it for those that don’t have the knowledge to set up there own system. Your not just paying for the storage bytes you pay for someone else knowledge. Is like this for most things, if you know how, you can do it cheaper.

  • kizer

    All of your rambling about a Raid configuration is useless when/if your house burns down. Offsite storage is simply that. Offsite so if your original or your backup copy is damaged you have it else where.

  • Evan Newell

    I thought about using it as a photo archive…. the hidden costs wouldn’t affect me much because I would only be accessing it in case of disaster and even them my data requirements are so low (compared to the examples above) that I think retrieval would be free for me.

    But the biggest stumbling block I encountered was that you need to be pretty tech savvy to set this thing up… I got myself signed up and then reached an impass when it started talking about which programming language I wanted to use and started dishing out lots of vocab I was unfamiliar with.
    Oh well.
    I think I might like this if they set it up for a more ordinary customer with an app or something that makes it easier.

  • Late Jimmie

    This service still stands up if two offsite locations burn down. I’m pretty sure a RAID won’t save you if your house *and* your bank are both destroyed simultaneously.

  • Marmaris Turkey

    Did you do with Glacier or S3.Does jungleDisk support Glacier

  • Justin

    I love the Owl meme!

  • Justin

    Now there are some decent applications you can use. FastGlacier is free and works quite well. If you are willing to pay, CloudBerry has support for Glacier and it also has a feature to limit your download rate to keep your bill low.

  • BademUtku

    There is not many solutions yet, but you can try Arq if you are mac user or Zoolz if you are on windows.