Amazon Glacier: Cloud Storage For Archives And Backups Launched

Amazon web services (AWS) launched a new service called Amazon Glacier. You can use this service for archiving mission-critical data and backups in a reliable way in an enterprise IT or for personal usage. This service cost as low as $0.01 (one US penny, one one-hundredth of a dollar) per Gigabyte, per month. You can store a lot of data in various geographically distinct facilities and verifying hardware or data integrity, irrespective of the length of your retention periods. The first thing comes to mind is, the Glacier would be a good place for a backup off family photos and videos from my local 12TB nas.

More about Glacier service

  1. Secure – Amazon Glacier supports secure transfer of your data over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and automatically stores data encrypted at rest using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256, a secure symmetric-key encryption standard using 256-bit encryption keys. If you are really paranoid just use GPG to encrypt your files before you upload them.
  2. Durable – Amazon Glacier is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive.
  3. Simple – Amazon Glacier allows you to offload the administrative burdens of operating and scaling archival storage to AWS, and makes retaining data for long periods, whether measured in years or decades, especially simple.

Glacier is not the backup options

Glacier is an archive product. For example, my personal home nas server is good enough to recover from various accidents. But, it will not work if entire array or all drives died. In that situation, I can retrieve my photos/videos and other data from Glacier. I’ve tons of old invoices and other business data that I need to keep for 10 years due to legal obligation and Glacier is the perfect product for me. From the amazon blog:

a) If you are part of an enterprise IT department, you can store email, corporate file shares, legal records, and business documents. The kind of stuff that you need to keep around for years or decades with little or no reason to access it.

b) If you work in digital media, you can archive your books, movies, images, music, news footage, and so forth. These assets can easily grow to tens of Petabytes and are generally accessed very infrequently.

c) If you generate and collect scientific or research data, you can store it in Glacier just in case you need to get it back later.

In short, if your house or data center has burned down and you need all your data back, you need this kind of service.

But, how durable is my data? Can I use the service for 20 years without loosing a single file?

Amazon claims that, Glacier will store your data with high durability and the service is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% per archive. Behind the scenes, Glacier performs systematic data integrity checks and heals itself as necessary with no intervention on your part. There’s plenty of redundancy and Glacier can sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities. From the s3 faq:

Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability of objects over a given year. This durability level corresponds to an average annual expected loss of 0.000000001% of objects. For example, if you store 10,000 objects with Amazon S3, you can on average expect to incur a loss of a single object once every 10,000,000 years. In addition, Amazon S3 is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.


Glacier is available for use today in the US-East (N. Virginia), US-West (N. California), US-West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Tokyo) and EU-West (Ireland) Regions. For pricing details, see the Amazon Glacier website here.

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🐧 13 comments so far... add one

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13 comments… add one
  • Paolo Aug 21, 2012 @ 12:03

    cent/GB sounds like cheap, but assuming that your whole NAS is occupied your monthly costs would be 120 USD a month or 1440 USD year… Not so cheap anymore . I’m willing to maintain a manual backup of all your stuff on 4GB DoKs for 0.8 of Amazon’s price ;-)

    • Andy Buckingham Aug 21, 2012 @ 14:53

      Your NAS holds 12 TBs of data?! 12 months service from Amazon, in a far more resilient data center still takes 12 months to equal the cost of a single NAS and you don’t benefit from on-going security, replacements due to faults etc.

  • Dogsbody Aug 21, 2012 @ 12:50

    This seems like a great product but there are two gotchas that aren’t beening mentioned especially for UK home users.

    Pricing in the EU is $0.11 per GB and not $0.01 as in the US. It’s a shame as S3 pricing in EU is $0.125 per GB. It’s actually cheaper to use Reduced Redundancy Storage at $0.09 per GB.

    You also say that “Glacier would be a good place for a backup off family photos and videos from my local 12TB nas”. This is just an example but I’m guessing this family NAS isn’t at work. Even with a 5Mpbs broadband upload speed this will take you 233 days to upload to Glacier.

    Just examples, unfortunately broadband speeds aren’t set up for this sort of thing.

    • Never Aug 21, 2012 @ 15:12

      Two error’s in your post.
      Pricing in the EU is $0.011 per GB / month not $0.11 per GB / month.
      12TB at 5mbs takes 768 Hours, 57 Minutes and 20 Seconds. ~32 days

      • Dogsbody Aug 22, 2012 @ 11:16

        Apologies, you are absolutely right about the price, I missread it badly didn’t I :-p

        12TB will definately not take 32 days though! Are you confusing Bytes with bits?
        12TB / 5Mbps via Google

      • AK May 26, 2013 @ 1:32

        5mbs – No ISP gives you this in “bytes”

    • 🐧 Vivek Gite Aug 21, 2012 @ 20:59

      Just examples, unfortunately broadband speeds aren’t set up for this sort of thing.

      • Dogsbody Aug 22, 2012 @ 11:22

        Absolutely, it was just an example :-) It’ll still cost you ~$700 to do that though.

        Another option we are looking at is co-locating a server with an ISP that has an AWS Direct Connect port.

  • Karl-Martin Skontorp Aug 21, 2012 @ 15:22

    Actually, Glacier pricing is $0.011 – 1.1 cent – for the EU and West Coast regions. Only 0.1 cent more expensive than the cheapest US price. By the way, you don’t have to use the EU data center even though you reside in Europe. It just has lower latency (presumably).

  • Bhaskar Aug 29, 2012 @ 16:31

    Oops, previous link was incorrect. Here’s the one I wanted to share -> “Is There a Landmine Hidden in Amazon’s Glacier?

    • AK May 26, 2013 @ 1:29

      There’s actually one hidden but not if you take the careful, too long and tedious route.

  • Tapas Sep 23, 2012 @ 18:54

    How to take back up of an EBS volume to the AWS Glacier? Please give me any reference link or document.

  • StackLinux Jan 29, 2013 @ 21:13

    Anyone know any good tutorials for getting started with automating Glacier via Linux server??

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