Amazon S3 In 2019: What Do Amazon S3 Client Reviews Say?
Amazon S3 is not a typical web hosting provider. It is a web service for storing data as objects via interfaces like SOAP and REST.
It provides scalable storage — perfect for app developers who need an affordable platform for app data storage, or for businesses who need cloud server space for backups or sharable data. In fact, the “S3” represents “simple storage solution.”
It does allow you to host a static website using your own domain name but has no support for server-side scripts like PHP or ASP.NET.
This Amazon S3 hosting review will break down the service in simple terms so that you can decide if it’s the right hosting option for you.
Amazon S3 is one of many Amazon Web Services (AWS) and can be integrated with others for better performance.
Amazon is a household name worldwide for their e-commerce store, but AWS is what they’re known for in the tech industry.
While Amazon’s e-commerce operation runs on razor thin margins, AWS is highly profitable.
Screenshot via Amazon
A Brief Summary of AWS
AWS can be confusing at first because it encompasses so many different cloud-based services. There’s over 100, covering storage, databases, analytics, game development, streaming, and more.
Amazon S3 is among the most popular. Let me sum up a few of the other most popular services so you can get a feel for what AWS offers.
What it offers
EC2 provides cloud-based compute capacity for developers. Reasonably priced and highly scalable.
A scalable pub/sub messaging system. It’s simple and inexpensive compared to other mobile messaging tools.
CloudTrail is used to log and audit your AWS account, so it’s only useful if you use other services. Mainly used to ensure compliance and security.
Amazon’s own global content delivery network (CDN). Particularly useful because it integrates with other Amazon web services.
VPC (or virtual private cloud) gives you an isolated container in the AWS cloud. It can be used to run other services like EC2.
AWS Elastic Load Balancing
Elastic load balancing lets you spread traffic among different targets, like EC2 instances or IP addresses.
You can see that a lot of services relate to each other, so you’ll rarely be using just one service.
If you’re interested in Amazon S3, or any other AWS offering, expect to spend at least a bit of time breaking down and understanding related services.
If you’re really serious about becoming an expert on AWS, consider following the AWS certification program.
Amazon S3 Reviews by Our Community
Overall Rating from 15 Reviews by Amazon S3 Customers
Most Helpful Reviews
What Amazon S3 Can Be Used For
Amazon S3 is a simple service to understand. It’s a storage platform for files, although there are some big differences from other storage platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox.
You store your files in “buckets,” which are essentially folders that you create in your account.
You have a lot of flexibility with each bucket. You can make them public or private, assign a domain name to one, specify a storage region, and control permissions.
Because its hosting is limited to static websites, it’s useful to know the applications for which Amazon S3 is best suited.
- Hosting static sites that include:
- HTML files
- Client-side scripts
- Scalable cloud storage of media and Web apps
- Storing files for distribution
- Storing original files for manipulation and analysis in EC2; no data transfer fee
- Scalable, secure space for backups and archiving
- Self-hosting with automatic scaling for traffic increases
Most relevant here is the first point: hosting static websites.
Hosting a Static Website With Amazon S3
You’ll want to follow the full static website setup guide, but I’ll give you a quick summary of the major steps:
- Create your S3 account and a bucket for your website.
- Upload your static website files to your bucket and make it public.
- Register a domain from any domain registrar.
- Assign your domain to your bucket.
- Point your domain name to your bucket (through an Alias or A-name DNS record).
While you need to have some technical knowledge, you don’t need to use the command line, and it’s not that complex. You can have a site up and running in 30 minutes max.
Want to Host a Dynamic Website With Amazon?
Instead, you’ll use another Amazon service called Lightsail.
Lightsail offers cheap virtual private servers (VPSs) that also include ample SSD disk space.
Amazon S3 offers a lot of features, but let me briefly go over a few of the ones that are likely to be important to you.
Amazon S3 comes with built-in versioning. Meaning that every change, whether to your bucket or to an individual file is recorded. You can recover old versions at any time if you make a mistake.
Store Dynamically Created Files
You can use this to store files in one of your S3 buckets.
For example, if you created a tool that creates a custom spreadsheet for visitors, you’ll need to store it to let them see or download it. On many hosts, you can’t do this.
But with S3, a simple API request will let you store the spreadsheet and let visitors access it.
S3 Transfer Acceleration
Even without using a CDN, Amazon S3 is still relatively fast even for visitors on the other side of the world.
This is due to Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration, which is a process designed to optimize HTTP and HTTPS traffic over large distances.
Amazon’s Own CDN — CloudFront
If you’re trying to make your site(s) load as fast and reliably as possible, or want to save on high data transfer feeds, CloudFront is another one of Amazon’s cloud services; it is a great option.
CloudFront is a global CDN that’s highly secure, has high transfer speeds, and low latency.
It’s especially useful if you use Amazon S3 to host your website (or Lightsail for dynamic websites), as CloudFront integrates easily with other Amazon products.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Amazon’s infrastructure is top of the line and highly secure.
AWS was one of the original drivers of cloud computing, and completely dominates the industry today.
All your data is stored in multiple data centers and can be recovered as necessary. Amazon S3 provides 99.999999999% durability of objects, meaning that you will lose a file every 10,000 years or so.
Amazon is fully transparent with their data storage facilities, even taking you on virtual tours of the facilities.
They are highly secure facilities with restricted access, constant surveillance, and intrusion detection.
Once inside, access is restricted to the data servers themselves, and third-party auditors regularly assess system or procedural security threats throughout the year.
Finally, all major systems (water, power, internet) have layers of redundancy, ensuring that they continue operating in most types of emergencies.
Screenshot via Amazon S3
Amazon has several data centers spread out around the world, including US east and west, Europe, China, and South America.
You can access four levels of assistance from Amazon S3. Basic support is included with all accounts. It features 24/7/365 customer service, access to support forums, access to tech support for health checks, product FAQs (frequently asked questions), and a self-help resource center.
Developer, Business, and Enterprise are the three other classes of support service available. Each tier includes more experienced personnel, up to unlimited* contacts with tech support, as little as 15 minute response time, and architecture support.
The top tier, Enterprise, includes extensive support features such as third-party application support. As you may expect, Enterprise comes with a very high price tag compared to the other plans.
* When hosts describe anything as “unlimited,” it is typically boundless except in cases of abuse. A user may be charged a penalty or be required to subscribe to a more robust package if they are overburdening the servers.
Amazon S3 has clear and simple pricing based on a pay-what-you-use model.
When it comes to hosting, the free tier is often enough to get started and way better than the free trial that most other hosts offer. It’s a free plan for new users or those with modest storage needs.
- 5 GB of Amazon S3 storage
- 20,000 GET requests
- 2,000 PUT requests
- 15 GB data transfer outbound, per month, for one year
Once you move past the free tier, you pay a small amount per GB of storage that you use, although the amount depends on the region you choose. The more storage you use, the cheaper it gets.
The exact amount depends on the type of storage you choose. There are 4 to choose from:
- Standard Storage — This is what you’ll need for websites. Fast and secure.
- Standard-Infrequent Access Storage — Cheaper than standard storage, but designed for infrequent access. Not appropriate for websites which will be constantly accessed.
- One Zone-Infrequent Access Storage — A tiny bit cheaper than standard-infrequent access, just because it’s not as redundant (only stored in one zone).
- Amazon Glacier Storage — Very cheap and reliable, but slow retrieval speeds, which makes it inappropriate for website hosting.
On top of that, you may hear about Redundancy Storage Solution (RSS), while researching S3.
This is a budget storage solution within Amazon S3 for non-critical data that’s less durable and has less redundancy.
However, this seems to be being phased out and isn’t even mentioned on Amazon’s main storage page.
It used to be cheaper, but now is comparable to standard storage, which is why you won’t hear too much about it anymore.
If you’d like to see how much S3 storage will cost you, you can use this pricing calculator to get a good estimate. Click S3 on the left side menu and enter in how much space you think you’ll use.
Amazon S3, or even Amazon Lightsail isn’t the right hosting choice for everyone, even if it’s excellent for some.
Here are 3 other hosts that share some positive aspects of Amazon, while addressing one or more weaknesses:
Cloudways is another developer-friendly host with inexpensive pay-as-you-go pricing. It takes care of all the backend setup to let you easily use hosting services like Digital Ocean or AWS, without hassle or needing technical skills.
To learn more, read our Cloudways review.
LiquidWeb offers very high performance managed hosting and amazing customer support. You don’t need to be a developer. The big issue is the cost, which is substantially higher than S3.
If interested, take a closer look at LiquidWeb.
If you were interested in Amazon because it was cheap and fast, but don’t have the patience or technical skills, consider SiteGround. They offer inexpensive plans that a website can be easily set-up on.
Here’s a detailed SiteGround review if you’d like to learn more.
Pros and Cons of Using Amazon S3
With all that said, most of it won’t influence your eventual hosting choice too much.
Instead, let’s take a look at the biggest pros and cons of hosting with S3.
- Automatically scalable storage.
- Incredibly secure.
- Pay per use and low cost.
- Excellent support options.
- Integrates easily with other Amazon AWS.
- Hosting is only for static websites.
- Prices vary by location.
- Must estimate and calculate usage as you go.
- Requires a basic level of technical skills to setup.
If you are shopping for typical web hosting, such as for a WordPress blog or an eCommerce website, Amazon S3 is not a service for you.
At its core, it is low cost, cloud storage which can be used to manage several types of data for many uses.
If you use Amazon EC2 for Web hosting already, learning how this service can work for you will be worthwhile, as transferring data between the two is free.
Paying per use means that you won’t overpay for your needs, but it does make you responsible for tracking costs.
Amazon S3 provides a solid solution for app developers, business owners who need to share data with clients, or anyone who needs inexpensive, secure storage for redundant data and backups.
Amazon S3 Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Amazon EC2 cloud?
Amazon EC2 allows developers to set up virtual servers using Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. It’s easy to scale and manage, and is priced based on the amount of resource required.
- What is the use of Amazon Web Services?
Developers use Amazon Web Services because they can set up servers and related services instantly, and scale up and down as required. AWS is designed for very large projects that need huge amounts of processing power or storage.