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S3 Glacier

Glacier Basics

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  • Glacier is a lower-cost alternative to S3 when data is infrequently accessed, such as for archival purposes.
  • It’s only useful for data that is rarely accessed. It generally takes 3-5 hours to fulfill a retrieval request.
  • AWS has not officially revealed the storage media used by Glacier; it may be low-spin hard drives or even tapes.
  • AWS has released an even more cost effective storate tier called Glacier Deep Archive that offers ~12 hour retrieval latencies, but costs roughly a thousand dollars per month per petabyte.

Glacier Tips

  • You can physically ship your data to Amazon to put on Glacier on a USB or eSATA HDD.

Glacier Gotchas and Limitations

  • 🔸Getting files off Glacier is glacially slow (typically 3-5 hours or more).
  • 🔸Due to a fixed overhead per file (you pay per PUT or GET operation), uploading and downloading many small files on/to Glacier might be very expensive. There is also a 32k storage overhead per file. Hence it’s a good idea is to archive files before upload.
  • 💸Be aware of the per-object costs of archiving S3 data to Glacier. It costs $0.05 per 1,000 requests. If you have large numbers of S3 objects of relatively small size, it will take time to reach a break-even point (initial archiving cost versus lower storage pricing).