Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is one of the best object storage solutions in the industry at the moment. It offers a plethora of different S3 Storage Classes to choose from, and each one serves a different purpose that is generally based on the frequency of access to the data.
Archival and historical data would use different storage classes when compared to a solution that needs data storage for a static website. S3 objects are kept in S3 buckets, and S3 Storage Classes are configured at the object-level, meaning that you can have objects in the same bucket that belong to different S3 Storage Classes. S3 Lifecycle Policies can be used to automatically move objects between different storage classes.
Generally there is a retrieval fee for data being accessed, and the cost of this retrieval fee normally becomes more expensive when moving from the frequently accessed storage classes to the archival storage classes. Alternatively, the cost of the storage itself is generally cheaper when using the archival storage classes as opposed to the other classes, however the retrieval fees can be higher.
Recently, AWS launched the new Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval. With this new S3 Storage Class, customers get the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing the most appropriate and compliant storage class while still having millisecond access to data. S3 Glacier was a great storage class for archival and historical data, however the retrieval costs and retrieval time were higher than the other S3 Storage Classes (with the exception of Amazon Glacier Deep Archive).
S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval
S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval is the newest storage class, this offers the lowest cost for archival storage while still allowing for instantaneous retrieval times. S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval is now the fastest way to access archival data with S3, giving customers an archival solution with the same high throughput and milliseconds access as the S3 Standard and S3 Standard-IA storage classes.
This is a revitalized way of storing archival data, giving customers the ability to store archival data using a lower cost storage class, while still having the ability to access that data within seconds. S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval works well with archival data that is accessed more than quarterly, and is ideal for storing data like medical images, genomic sequences, satellite images, news media assets, user-generated content and archival data that requires milliseconds access.
S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval
This S3 Storage class was previously known as Amazon S3 Glacier. It provides a lower cost than storage classes such as S3 Standard, S3 Intelligent-Tiering and the S3 Infrequent Access classes. The data is only available within minutes to hours, making this storage class the best solution for backups, disaster recovery, offsite data storage, and for when data occasionally needs to be retrieved within minutes. S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval works best for data that does not require immediate access, but still needs the flexibility of it’s retrieval options for backups and disaster recovery, with free bulk retrievals.
S3 Glacier Deep Archive
This S3 storage class is ideal for data only accessed once or twice a year, offering long-term retention and data preservation for archival data. S3 Glacier Deep Archive offers the lowest storage costs compared to all the other storage options, however doesn’t allow for millisecond access to the archival data. This S3 storage class is the ideal storage solution for use in highly-regulated industries with strict compliance requirements, such as financial services, healthcare, and public sectors, that need to retain their data for 7—10 years or longer. The retrieval time for S3 Glacier can be up to 12 hours.
Amazon S3 Standard can be seen as the general purpose storage classes, it offers high durability and high throughput all with low latency. An important thing to note is that Amazon S3 Standard, your data is available instantaneously, i.e. within milliseconds. This make is the storage class for many different use cases such as, cloud-based applications, static and dynamic websites, big data analytics, content distribution, mobile applications and gaming applications.
Amazon S3 also has a storage class for data with unknown usage or changing access patterns, where you may not know exactly how frequently the data will be accessed and therefore aren’t sure which S3 Storage Class to choose. Amazon S3 Intelligent-Tiering intelligently moves objects between different storage classes based on how frequently the object is being accessed. S3 Intelligent-Tiering will choose the more cost-effective storage class for your data, without impacting performance, accumulating retrieval fees and ultimately reducing operational overhead. This storage class is best used with data with unknown usage patterns, if you know the usage patterns or if they become predictable, you can find more cost savings by choosing another storage class more appropriate for your storage needs.
Amazon S3 Standard-Infrequent Access (S3 Standard-IA) and Amazon S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone-IA)
These S3 Storage Classes are for data accessed less frequently, but still require the high durability, high throughput, and low latency of S3 Standard. These classes offer a lower per GB storage price and retrieval cost to S3 Standard. The main differentiator with S3 One Zone-IA is that the data is stored in one Available Zone (AZ), as opposed to the other storage classes that store the data in at least three different AZs to increase durability. Amazon S3 One Zone-IA, offers a lower cost of storage compared to S3 Standard-IA, generally reducing costs by 20%. These S3 storage classes are ideal for copies of on-premise backups and disaster recovery files.
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