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By jeremy at 2007-05-21 06:55
Backup using Amazon S3

Everyone knows it's important to backup vital data, but for a business, it's an absolute necessity. The reality, however, is that despite the imperative, far too few systems are actually archived. Worse, many sites that do create archives store the backups physically adjacent to the live data, either on a separate drive or within the same facility. If disaster strikes, both backups and the original data are both lost. Safety is just one of the many good reasons to keep archives offsite - even if the offsite is your home office or attic.

But don't start cleaning out your attic yet. Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) offers a quick, easy, and frugal way to store data remotely. S3 provides a simple web services interface to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Internet, and gives you access to the same highly-scalable, reliable, fast, and inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of Web sites. Part of Amazon's Web Services (AWS), the S3 API is simple and flexible.

The first thing to do is head over to and sign up for an account. The fees are very reasonable — there’s no sign up fee, storage is $0.15 per gigabyte per month, and bandwidth is just $0.20 per gigabyte of data transferred. Moreover, the piece-of-mind is invaluable. Once you have an S3 account, you can use the service in any way you'd like: you can write your own backup application or use one of the myriad solutions already available.

One backup package is s3sync. It transfers directories between your local system and an S3 "bucket," using a syntax that's very similar to rsync. (However, due to the way that S3 currently works, it doesn’t provide the full features of rsync, especially the speed and bandwidth savings.) s3sync is available from, and is licensed under a minimal license. It's only prerequisites are Ruby and OpenSSL. After unpacking the s3sync tar file, the best place to start is README.txt, which describes configuration and operation of the tool.

If you're not the command-line type, you may prefer a tool such as Cockpit, a graphical Java application that allows you to fully manage an S3 account. Licensed under the Apache 2 license and available for download at, Cockpit can be run as a standalone application or as a browser applet. If you choose the former, the package contains a script named Run this script to start the application - no installation is needed.

There are other Amazon S3 solutions, too:

*Backup Manager ( is a command-line backup tool for Linux, designed to make daily archives of your file system. The development version fully supports S3, and the software is licensed under the GPL.

*Jungle Disk (, pictured) is a proprietary application that uses a local WebDAV server.[ Jungle Disk was lauded recently in Linux Magazine. See .]

*Brackup (, written by Brad Fitzpatrick, who also wrote the memcached and perlbal, is a versioning backup tool written in Perl.

Keep in mind that some tools have unique storage formats, so an archive created by one tool may not be easily available to another tool. And while many existing solution are available, most of them are in their infancy, so it's important you test thoroughly and pick the software that best suits your needs.

The Web page located at contains a more comprehensive list of S3 clients, maintained by Amazon. Used properly, S3 is an inexpensive solution for off-site backups.

Use it wisely.

by tonyp13 on Sat, 2011-02-26 09:12
There is also a graphical client for Linux


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