After I completed and published a C# version of my Nutrition Facts software over the weekend, I ran into a problem. The hits to my website jumped and the downloads were killing my bandwidth (I host that site from my house). What to do?
I could move my site to a web host, but I’ve had bad luck and losing control over the server makes me unduely nervous. Besides, it could take days to move everything over and test the new site.
The second option was finding an internet storage provider and using them as a download site. This reminded me of a press release some time ago from Amazon about new web services they were offering.
Enter Amazon S3.
S3 stands for Simple Storage Service. It’s a web service that offers unlimited storage at a metered price and the prices are VERY low (at least for my needs). For example, for every GB that is downloaded I would have to pay $0.18. There is a whole schedule of the costs and while they charge for almost everything, the prices are often as cheap as $0.01. (a price list is available at the link above)
Just doing some quick calculations I would spend about $1.50 per month to use S3 as a download site. Not a bad price!
The next confusing step was how to access it. Everything is done via web seRvice calls, function calls for the internet. This means I would need a special application to upload my files. Turns out there are several. A friend of mine used one that created a drive letter on your windows computer. I opted for a firefox plugin called S3Fox, since I often have a browser open anyway.
S3Fox is a dual paned file manager, just like your typical ftp client. You drop and drag the files you want from your local drive to the S3 drive (or visa versa).
Since there is no signup fee, I decided to jump and get myself an S3 account. The whole process took about 10 seconds before my account was activeThere was only one issue still left to resolve. How do I create a link to the files I upload to S3, allowing anyone to download. Turns out the answer was painfully simple.
In the firefox plugin, right clicking on a file in your S3 account allows you to 1) open access to everyone on the internet to the specific file (you can limit it to certain email address, etc, but I haven’t explored this) and 2) get a URL allowing access to the files directly from a browser. Perfect!
I have now been using S3 for 3 whole days and I am up to $0.09 in charges. All my primary download links now point to the files in my S3 account. I am so happy with it, that I may backup important documents like pictures, etc. I figure it will cost me about $2.50 per month to storage fees.
I was convinced this was my solution.