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AWS Glacier vs S3 Review

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most popular cloud service providers, in part because Amazon Cloud storage pricing is relatively reasonable for such a scalable and reliable solution. AWS storage solutions are particularly popular. But organizations must choose a cloud storage option best suited for the type of data they will store and how they will store it.

The two most popular storage options from AWS are Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier. In this article, we’ll cover Amazon cloud storage pricing and use cases for these two solutions.

What is the Difference Between Amazon S3 and Glacier?

So what is the difference between Amazon S3 and Glacier? Both are reliable storage solutions that share some valuable similarities. But where they differ can be just as valuable. They can also be used in conjunction in some cases to reap the benefits of each. Let’s take a deeper look at S3 vs. Glacier.

What is Amazon S3?

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is one of the earliest and most widely adopted AWS cloud storage options. It allows you to store and retrieve any amount of data at any time and from anywhere on the network. 

Data in S3 is stored in logical “buckets” that make it easy to navigate and retrieve the information you’re looking for. It also uses object storage that stores metadata along with files. Overall, it’s a highly scalable, reliable, quick and secure cloud storage solution.

Because of its legacy, Amazon S3 has evolved to support a wide variety of use cases, including the following:

  • It’s often used for websites, mobile applications, corporate applications, IoT device-generated data, application log files and big data analysis.
  • It can act as a host for documents and files and be mapped as a file server. 
  • Files on S3 can be encrypted with Amazon Key Management Service (KMS) keys.
  • S3 can be used as a backup service to store snapshots or database backups.
  • Particular types of data stored in S3 can be directly queried from analytics applications like Amazon Athena with Structured Query Language (SQL).

As a storage solution for frequent utilization, Amazon S3 is more expensive than Glacier. Pricing starts at three cents per gigabyte (GB).

What is Amazon Glacier?

Amazon Glacier was built for the long term storage and the digital archiving of data, as opposed to frequent utilization. It’s a highly reliable and secure storage solution and a great option for creating large backups for data recovery.

Glacier’s use cases are far more targeted than S3’s, but this makes it a powerful solution for organizations looking for a tool to fill these specific needs. Its use cases can be boiled down to three categories:

  • Long-term archival of enterprise backups.
  • Long-term archival of log files.
  • Long term archival of source data used for processing.

One downside to Amazon Glacier is speed. It’s built for long-term archival processes, not frequent retrievals and removals. As a result, data retrieval can take a long time to process. But it’s also an extremely low-priced cloud storage solution, starting as low as one cent per GB.

Using Amazon S3 with Glacier

Some organizations looking for a more comprehensive storage solution under the AWS umbrella may opt to use both S3 and Glacier in conjunction. The data stored in S3 buckets can be configured with lifecycle policies to automatically transfer to Glacier long-term storage once it reaches a certain age. This combination is an ideal solution for organizations that need to archive data for long periods of time to maintain regulatory compliance.

Because Amazon S3 and Glacier are cloud storage solutions, they also have the added benefit of eliminating many of the issues that hardware storage presents. Resource planning and the provisioning of necessary on-premises equipment is no longer a concern. You also won’t have to worry about detecting, identifying and resolving the frequent issues that result from maintaining hardware-based server networks.

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