Amazon web services (AWS) launched a new service called Amazon Glacier. You can use this service for archiving mission-critical data and backups in a reliable way in an enterprise IT or for personal usage. This service cost as low as $0.01 (one US penny, one one-hundredth of a dollar) per Gigabyte, per month. You can store a lot of data in various geographically distinct facilities and verifying hardware or data integrity, irrespective of the length of your retention periods. The first thing comes to mind is, the Glacier would be a good place for a backup off family photos and videos from my local 12TB nas.

More about Glacier service

  1. Secure – Amazon Glacier supports secure transfer of your data over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and automatically stores data encrypted at rest using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256, a secure symmetric-key encryption standard using 256-bit encryption keys. If you are really paranoid just use GPG to encrypt your files before you upload them.
  2. Durable – Amazon Glacier is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive.
  3. Simple – Amazon Glacier allows you to offload the administrative burdens of operating and scaling archival storage to AWS, and makes retaining data for long periods, whether measured in years or decades, especially simple.

Glacier is not the backup options

Glacier is an archive product. For example, my personal home nas server is good enough to recover from various accidents. But, it will not work if entire array or all drives died. In that situation, I can retrieve my photos/videos and other data from Glacier. I’ve tons of old invoices and other business data that I need to keep for 10 years due to legal obligation and Glacier is the perfect product for me. From the amazon blog:

a) If you are part of an enterprise IT department, you can store email, corporate file shares, legal records, and business documents. The kind of stuff that you need to keep around for years or decades with little or no reason to access it.

b) If you work in digital media, you can archive your books, movies, images, music, news footage, and so forth. These assets can easily grow to tens of Petabytes and are generally accessed very infrequently.

c) If you generate and collect scientific or research data, you can store it in Glacier just in case you need to get it back later.

In short, if your house or data center has burned down and you need all your data back, you need this kind of service.

But, how durable is my data? Can I use the service for 20 years without loosing a single file?

Amazon claims that, Glacier will store your data with high durability and 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. From the s3 faq:

Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability of objects over a given year. This durability level corresponds to an average annual expected loss of 0.000000001% of objects. For example, if you store 10,000 objects with Amazon S3, you can on average expect to incur a loss of a single object once every 10,000,000 years. In addition, Amazon S3 is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.

Cost

Glacier is available for use today in the US-East (N. Virginia), US-West (N. California), US-West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Tokyo) and EU-West (Ireland) Regions. For pricing details, see the Amazon Glacier website here.

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