How to Use AWS S3 as a Storage for Your Application

  • Mar 20, 2017
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Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services have just celebrated their 11th birthday. All these years haven’t been spent in vain – now it is the most experienced cloud platform with an impressive portfolio. An entrepreneur would probably turn to AWS if he needs the widest range of cloud tools. And it’s not surprising – Amazon has created more than 70 web solutions and operates in 16 geographical regions.

Today, we will focus our attention on one piece of this huge pie – Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service).

How Amazon S3 Stores Files

Amazon S3 stores various objects that “weigh” maximum five terabytes. In addition, each of these objects includes metadata with the upper size limit of 2 kilobytes. The objects are grouped into so-called buckets, with each belonging to an individual AWS account. Users assign a unique key to each object inside a bucket for identification.

There are several ways for users to create, retrieve, and list buckets and objects. They can do it through a SOAP interface or an HTTP interface in REST style. Also, S3-users can download their files by means of the BitTorrent protocol or via the HTTP GET interface.

Among well-known companies that have chosen S3 for file storage are SmugMug, Netflix, and Dropbox.

Uploading Files to AWS S3

Steps You Should Take to Be Able to Upload Files to AWS S3

Registering

Needless to say, the first thing you should do is to create an AWS account. Although signing up is free, AWS takes a small amount of money for storing and transporting files to S3. Once you have registered, you can use the S3 “command center” – AWS Management Console.

Creating a Bucket

The next step is to create a bucket, which can be compared to an ordinary computer folder. Yes, a folder but with one significant difference – its storage capacity has almost no ceiling.

To make a bucket, click the Create button in the console, type in the name for the new bucket, and pick up a region: either your own or one located near the place where you are based.

Note! The name of the bucket depends on whether you want to use a specific domain or subdomain. If you do, specify it for your bucket.

After that, you only need to click Create. If you have done everything right, here it is – among other bucket-brothers in the console.

Buckets in AWS

What You Should Know About Buckets

As buckets now are basically a place where you work on the cloud, it’d be better to know them closer.

These are three main facts for the start:

  • As mentioned above, if you wish to have your unique domain, the name of the bucket must exactly match it.
  • It is impossible to have two buckets with the same name in S3.
  • You can make a bucket in a region that is listed among supported world’s regions.

Uploading

You can now start uploading your files to S3. When you have created a file and want to upload it, select your bucket and click Upload in the console. But this is not all – with S3, you can upload files directly from a browser to your bucket.

In order to make sure that users can see your newly uploaded file, select it in the console, switch to the Properties tab, and click the link there. If the page with your file opens, it means everything’s in the right place.

AWS Storage

What You Should Know About Uploads

A few words about what the upload actually is. From the HTTP point of view, the upload represents a typical request to an S3 endpoint using the POST method.

That request includes the following:

  • the file itself
  • a filename (which is a key from the S3 perspective)
  • metadata
  • a signed policy

It all looks pretty simple, but there are some more great features to prove the simplicity of S3. The HTTP API it uses is extremely simple. To prove it, the service doesn’t verify if there is really a file with the key that you want to upload. It simply overwrites it in the background.

How to make it even simpler? In Amazon S3 you’ll find a directory-free structure. Visual tools show directories just to make the file management more convenient. In reality, there is only a string key to reference each file that users upload to S3. Placing files in directories is not necessary.

Amazon Web Services

As Simple as It Sounds

That’s the process of uploading files to S3 in a nutshell. If you’ve been looking for a simple cloud offering, here it is. Amazon has been working quite a lot to bring good quality literally to every device. And developers, in particular, can get some benefits from this cloud partnership. S3 lets you store your files cheaply, plus you can upload them straight from a browser, which is very fast, saves CPU time, and prevents from consuming too much of your bandwidth.

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