What is Amazon S3?


The S3 in Amazon S3 stands for Simple Storage Service. As the name implies it is a web service provided by Amazon Web Services which provides storage for the internet. This storage is highly-scalable and secure in the cloud. Having data stored in the cloud eliminates the need for in-house storage and customers can opt for unlimited storage or buy more as it is needed. 

S3 is an incredibly helpful product which allows users to store and retrieve data from anywhere on the web, at any time. This is done though the AWS Management Console which is an easy to use web interface.

Amazon itself uses S3 to run its own websites across the world. It has become extremely popular and is growing at an exponential rate. In 2007 S3 stored ten billion objects and this has soared to two trillion objects in 2013. Just a few of the well known companies that use S3 are Netflix, Dropbox, Pinterest and Tumblr.

How does it work?


Data is stored as objects in buckets. First a bucket is created and named then data is able to be stored in it. Objects are then addressable using HTTP URLS. For example, in object named documents/doc.txt stored in the 'example' bucket would use the URL address: http://example.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/dox.txt.

A bucket can store an unlimited amount of data, and the size of a data object can range from one byte to five terabytes, and most data types are supported. Objects in each bucket are assigned their own key for identification by the developer. The user can download data at any time and they can also set it up so that others can download data, depending on set permission levels.


S3 uses standards based Representational State Transfer (REST) style HTTP interface. You can send requests using the REST API or the AWS SDK. REST requests are sent to the service's predefined endpoint. You can also use Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), HTTP GET interface and BitTorrent protocol.

Benefits of Amazon S3

Hosting on S3 gives users the ability to store a huge amount of data at a very low cost.

  • You only pay for what you use so you wont end up paying a fixed fee for storage that you don't end up using. 
  • You can add as much storage as you need without any restrictions which makes S3 incredibly scalable.
  • It is virtually always available as everything is stored in the cloud. This means that there is no threat of down time that can occur with a traditional server.
  • Buckets are duplicated as well so there will always be access with no redundancy. 
  • The data stored on S3 is extremely secure and it provides encryption for storage and transit.


More information on what is Amazon S3, and comprehensive user docs can be found at the Amazon AWS website.

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