amazons-s3-logo Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is an easy and inexpensive Internet hard-drive from Amazon Web Services (AWS) with absolutely no limits.

Now some people assume that Amazon S3 is a storage service meant primarily for web start-ups who store data in-the-cloud but that’s not correct because just about anyone (home users included) can benefit from S3.

For instance, you may backup your large music collection or even your entire computer hard-drive on S3. Similarly, bloggers can use Amazon S3 to store web images without worrying too much about their bandwidth bills.

If you never had a chance to explore Amazon S3 before, read the following guide that makes S3 simple even for non-geeks. It has all the information and tools you would need to quickly get started with Amazon S3.

amazon-aws-secret-keyThe Basic Requirements:

To use Amazon S3 service, you’ll need an Amazon account (yes, it’s free; you pay only if you buy something from them) and an Amazon AWS S3 account.

Now go to AWS Access Key Identifiers and generate a unique Access Key ID + Secret Access Key pair that is required for using Amazon S3.

Upload & Manage Files on Amazon S3

Now that you have all the basic things in place, it’s time to explore tools uploading and managing files on Amazon S3.

amazon-explorer Amazon S3Fox - Perhaps the simplest of all, this Firefox add-on provides an FTP like interface (Windows Explorer) to upload and manage files on S3. This is recommended if you are uploading a small batch of files as S3Fox may have issues with long queues.

S3 Backup (Windows) – This is a free and simple tool for uploading or downloading files from S3 – just pick a file or a folder on the local hard drive to put it to S3. You can even set batch file attributes to bunch of files or folders.

s3-transmit-panicTransmit (Mac): Transmit for Mac is a popular FTP client for Mac OS X that sells for around $30 but the tool may be worth every penny – it lets you upload, download and manage your online Amazon S3 storage like a native Mac app.

Jungle Disk – This is available for Mac, Windows, Linux and there’s also a portable version for your USB computer.   Jungle Disk will set you back by $20 per license but that includes all three platforms and they also provide a web interface to manage your files on S3.

junglediskJungle Disk has a useful “Automatic Backup” features that will backup files and folders from your local hard drive onto Amazon S3 automatically. Thus it can be used as a decent alternative to online backup services like Mozy, Carbonite, etc.

Note: There really isn’t a thing called ‘folders’ per se on the S3 but that is the topic of another day. For now, just assume that you can create ‘folders’ and have files inside them.

WordPress plugin – This comes handy if you to stores files on Amazon S3 rather than using the default “uploads folder” of WordPress.

aws-s3-wordpress-plugin

Once the WordPress S3 plugin is installed and activated, you’ll see an extra icon (storage cylinder) in your “Add Media” Bar. This will allow you to upload files to your Amazon S3 account and can be used inside the WordPress interface.

Read Part II – Amazon S3 Buckets Described in Plain English