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HDG Explains : What Is Amazon S3?

Do you have large amounts of data that need to be stored? Are you tired of paying large, flat storage fees for this data? How about the need to securely upload and download encrypted files? If any of these questions are followed by a firm “Yes”, then Amazon S3 is worth exploring.

But what is Amazon S3? With its simple web services interface, Amazon S3 offers solutions to all of these and many more in terms of your storage needs. Developers can access the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, and affordable storage infrastructure on which Amazon operates its own global network of websites.

With Amazon S3, you can store and retrieve any amount of data, anytime, from anywhere on the Internet.

What is Amazon S3?

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) has been designed with developers in mind. It simplifies computing at the scale of the web and is an important part of the reliable cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment.

Through the web interface, Amazon S3 provides Object Storage, or as AWS calls it, “fundamental objects that can be stored in Amazon S3.” Object storage was created to store, protect, and retrieve data from “primary storage containers” called buckets. The user creates a cart and the items in the cart are stored in the cloud.

This service is available to organizations of all sizes in any industry to use, but are not limited to, websites, mobile apps, backup, data backup and recovery, IoT devices, and enterprise apps.

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How does Amazon S3 work?

To understand what Amazon S3 is and how it all works, we’ll go a little deeper into each component of the storage system. We will focus on two main things – buckets and objects. These two components work in tandem to create your Amazon S3 storage system.

Amazon S3 objects can be documents, photos, videos, and other files of any type. Each object is given a unique key that identifies it in an S3 environment. The maximum object file upload size is 160 GB, although AWS has a variety of tools to help you add larger files when needed.

Objects need storage space in the S3 environment, and this is where baskets come into play. As mentioned earlier, the bucket is the main container for storing the object. You can upload unlimited items to one bucket using the Amazon S3 API.

AWS limits the creation of shards to 100 for each of your AWS cloud accounts. This number can be increased to 1000 after a request for an increase in service limit is submitted.

When a bucket is created, you choose the AWS Region in which you want to store it. The closer the region is to your physical location, the less your latency issues and costs will be. Items in a recycle bin stored in a specific region will remain there until you transfer them.

The unique identifier for each basket is global. This means that nowhere in the world will the recycle bin have the same name as the recycle bin you created until it is deleted.

The Amazon S3 Console is located in the AWS Management Console. This is where you create, configure, and manage each segment, as well as the objects stored in it.

The Amazon S3 Console uses a hierarchical folder structure that allows you to search for keywords or phrases to help you easily find and retrieve what you are looking for.

Permissions to access your buckets and objects are also set using the management console.

Amazon S3 Features

Amazon S3 is simple and reliable secure storage. The features provided provide scalability, reliability, availability, cost effectiveness, and security. They also offer so-called versioning, which allows you to create duplicates of an object in the same shard as a fail-safe means to rollback or restore data.


Amazon S3 doesn’t meet the same standards as your regular cloud storage provider. Rather than paying for set limits that you may or may not use, Amazon S3 only charges you for what you actually use.

This service helps you avoid overcharging for unallocated space and potential overcharges if you exceed your limit. There are no hidden or over-limit fees with Amazon S3. You can scale up and down storage resources to meet your changing needs.

Reliability, availability and cost effectiveness

AWS notes that Amazon S3 “is rated at 99.999999999% reliability and stores data for millions of applications for businesses around the world.” Amazon S3 automatically creates and stores your S3 objects across multiple failover systems. This provides quick access to your data when needed.

Data can be stored in a range of storage frequency classes. Storage classes range from high to cheap depending on how important the files are and how often certain files are accessed.

If you need immediate access to important files, the range will be set to the more expensive end. This can change over time depending on how often the files are accessed. AWS provides tools to monitor each entity and determine if they need to be moved to a higher or lower storage class. It will also automatically move your objects according to the current access patterns.

This setting is useful for creating a lifecycle policy that defines the actions that Amazon S3 should take during the lifecycle of an object. An example of this would be moving objects to another storage class, archiving them, or deleting them after a certain period of time. You can then configure automatic data migration when the policy conditions you set are met.


Encryption features and access tools protect the data you store in your AWS S3 environment from unauthorized access. This applies to both segment level and account level.

By default, users will only have access to the segments and objects they create. AWS offers you many security management functions to change and customize access rights.

Choose Amazon S3

Amazon S3 was built for mature enterprises that require scalability and therefore may not be suitable for small businesses that require minimal data storage and have no immediate plans for expansion.

However, with a flexible cost model, robust architecture, and ubiquitous web presence, Amazon S3 is a good choice for any business that requires web-based data that scales to meet its needs.

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