The fact that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has over a million users speaks volumes about its utility. Coming to storage solutions, AWS is known for its enterprise-friendly, cost-effective, and reliable cloud storage. While there are a variety of storage solutions on offer, we will be focussing on Amazon Glacier and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). You might be wondering, what’s the difference between them? For now, understand that the option you choose depends on what type of data you need to store and why to keep it. We shall be diving deep into it in a bit. Thanks to Zmanda, together with Amazon S3 and AWS Glacier, we have the right services at hand to establish a cost-effective yet practical backup solution.
What is Amazon Glacier?
Amazon Glacier is an online data storage service just like the popular S3 service. It provides users with a simple, secure, cloud-based data storage that can quickly be scaled up or down as needed. Want to store inactive data for the long term? Amazon glacier is perfect (although it takes three to five hours for retrieval). This long-term, slow-moving method is known as cold storage, hence the name “Glacier”. Amazon Glacier is designed to store information that rarely needs to be retrieved, which means that it is not a good option for storing frequently accessed data. To further drive this point home, AWS occasionally charges users extra for data retrieval from Glacier. The charges depend on the user’s pricing plan and the amount of data being retrieved. However, on the flip side, Glacier’s storage fees start from $0.0036 per Gigabyte per month, which is remarkably cheap.
Common Terminology used in Amazon Glacier
Vaults: Vaults are containers for storing data. They are given a name and a specific AWS Region during their creation. There is no limit to the number of archives that can be stored in a vault. You can control the access to your vaults by leveraging the Vault lock/access policies. Archives: Archives are objects like documents or media files stored in a vault. You can store any number of archives in a vault. It is the base unit of storage in Amazon Glacier. Vault Access Policies: Vault Access Policies allow you to have granular data control. It is a resource-based policy that can be used to control permissions to the vault. Each vault can have its own vault access policy. The permissions in a vault access policy can be modified as needed. Vault Lock Policies: Vault Lock Policies are nothing but vault access policies that can be locked. It is helpful in enforcing regulatory requirements. They can be defined for each bucket.
What is Amazon S3?
Amazon Simple Storage Service, popularly known as Amazon S3, is an object storage service that offers developers and IT teams with security, performance, industry-leading scalability, and data availability. In short, customers of all sizes and industries can use Amazon S3 to store and protect any amount of their data. They can use it for a range of use cases; backup and restore, websites, mobile applications, IoT devices, archive, enterprise applications, and big data analytics.
Amazon S3’s easy-to-use management features help you organize your data and configure finely-tuned access controls that meet specific business requirements. For Amazon S3 you pay for the storage you use; there is no extra cost for the setup.
What is Amazon Glacier vs. Amazon S3?
Both Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier are storage solutions, but we need to know how one is different from the other and when to use them. This kind of deeper understanding will help us make better use of the storage solutions. Amazon S3 is a fast storage service that is ideal if you need frequent access to data. It is known for its scalability, security, and speed of access. S3 allows you to retrieve data in milliseconds. On the other hand, Amazon Glacier is an inexpensive storage service for backing up and archiving data. In Glacier, you get three options for data retrieval that vary in terms of speed and cost. Amazon Glacier backups are used to store objects that you will not need to access for extended periods-weeks, months, or even years. They are Expedited (1 to 5 minutes), Standard (3 to 5 hours), and Bulk (5 to 12 hours). In the US East (Ohio), the costs are as follows:
|Expedited||$0.03 per GB|
|Standard||$0.01 per GB|
|Bulk||$0.00 per GB|
Why Amazon Glacier?
AWS Glacier being low-cost cold storage serves a practical use in various use cases of today. Let’s have a quick look at a few of them:
1. Low-cost storage While tape libraries do lower storage costs, they require large upfront investments and specialized maintenance. Amazon S3 Glacier, on the other hand, has no upfront cost and eliminates the cost and burden of maintenance.
2. Archiving Data for Regulatory Purposes
Many businesses need to keep long-term archives in order to comply with various compliance regulations. For instance, in healthcare (HIPAA, as well as many other regulations), vast amounts of patient data need to be stored for decades.
According to the Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends report, the sheer volume of health care data is growing at an astronomical rate: 153 exabytes (one exabyte = one billion gigabytes) were produced in 2013, and an estimated 2,314 exabytes will be produced in 2020, translating to an overall rate of increase of at least 48 percent annually. This storage must be reliable and secured, but keeping a vast amount of data for so long can be an issue in terms of cost. Amazon Glacier Storage fulfills the above-stated requirements at an affordable price. It starts from $0.0036 per Gigabyte per month. For comparison, the fully loaded cost of on-premises storage, including management and security, is approximately $0.15 to $0.30 per GB per month. The cost of non-proprietary cloud solutions which meet healthcare industry requirements will run between $0.005 (5 tenths of a cent) to $0.07 per GB per month.
3. Digital Media Asset Archival
Digital media files can be gigabytes or even terabytes in size. These files need to be stored for the long term, and this can gradually end up costing a bomb. With Amazon Glacier Backup, storing and retrieving files is easy and cost-effective.
4. Backup and Restore for Disaster Recovery Scenarios Disasters are unpredictable, and hence, it has become crucial for every company to ensure the utmost protection for their data. AWS Glacier will provide you with secure and durable backup storage at a low cost, no matter where your environment is running either on AWS cloud or relying on hybrid solutions. Even during a situation where you must restore your data, various retrieval options will ensure that your business is up and running in no time
5. Durable Long Term Data Libraries
For many libraries and government agencies, the durability of the objects is a priority., Maintenance of massive volumes of data is almost an impossible task. Fortunately, Glacier is built to be self-healing. Thus it performs regular data integrity checks on all files and ensures that any object that is not verified is repaired. So, you can backup to Amazon Glacier and stay assured that your data is always safe.
Should I use Amazon Glacier?
AWS Glacier offers you comprehensive security and conforms to stringent regulatory requirements. Data is redundantly stored in numerous AWS Availability Zones (AZ). In addition to it, data is also stored on numerous devices within each AZ. An upload is considered successful only when the data is synchronously stored across various AZs.
So, what is Amazon Glacier Deep Archive?
By introducing new features, Amazon is always looking for ways to improve its products. AWS Deep Archive is a recent announcement about Glacier’s new storage class. Deep Archive is a very long-term storage solution that is even cheaper than Glacier’s Standard tier and is a perfect fit for keeping data sets for 7-10 years or longer. Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive makes cold storage even more affordable for businesses.
See why Zmanda is the right choice for backing up on Amazon Glacier?
Zmanda is a worldwide leader in open-source backup and recovery software. It works as an all-in-one backup and disaster recovery solution that protects ﬁles, servers, and entire data centers. Zmanda ensures that its customers can always recover their data while making backup simple, secure, and cost-effective. Amazon S3 Service fits perfectly with this mission. To save a large amount of ‘cold data’ (infrequently accessed data), Zmanda adds lifecycle configuration to tell Amazon S3 to transition objects to Amazon S3 Glacier. For instance, if a user wants to archive objects that do not need to be accessed in real-time, such objects can be backed up to the Glacier storage class.
How Does Zmanda Benefit the Customer?
The user does not have to use the AWS Console or AWS command-line interface for archiving and retrieving the archived object. You will not need to interact with the AWS Console. It can be done easily using Zmanda Management Console, i.e., the user does not have to know how to create a lifecycle rule which they will need to know if they are using AWS Command-line interface or AWS Console. It greatly simplifies managing backup to Amazon Glacier and AWS S3.
Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends Report Harnessing the Power of Data in Health
“Where Should Healthcare Data Be Stored In 2018 – And Beyond?”
“Cloud Data Archiving: Long-Term Object Storage: Amazon Glacier.”
“What Is Amazon Glacier and When Should You Use It?” CloudRanger, 12 Dec. 2017,
“Amazon Glacier: Use Cases and Considerations.” N2WS, 24 June 2019,
“Amazon S3 pricing”
https://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/ “Amazon Glacier pricing”
Also be sure to check out the Points to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Plan