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What is Amazon S3 and Why Use It?

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Well, good morning everybody and welcome to this special seminar on how to set up Amazon S3 for storing and hosting your large files. To begin with, we’re going to talk about what Amazon S3 is and why you would use it.

Amazon S3 Relieves the Load on Your Web Server

Amazon S3 is sort of your hard drive in the sky and you use it to store and deliver files. But why is that useful? Well, it’s useful because it relieves the load on your web server which then speeds up your site. And this is true whether or not you’re on a dedicated server of your own or if you’re on a shared server BlueHost.

Regardless of which of those conditions you have, our web server has to spend time and energy and memory and processing cycles delivering files of people are accessing. And by using Amazon S3, you can offload that task on to Amazon’s web servers.

Amazon S3’s Servers are Fast and Inexpensive

Amazon’s web servers are very fast and also, very inexpensive. It is a significant reduction in the load on your site with a significant increase in performance. So it’s definitely a good thing to do with large files.

Good for Video Files, Audio Files, Large PDFs

And when we talk about large files, we’re talking about things like video files. Almost all of our files here at BYOBWebsite are served from Amazon via players that access files on Amazon S3.

So if you’ve got things that you’re selling, especially digital products, then this is very handy. You’ve seen examples of selling digital products in WP eStore and we’ll be talking about selling digital products in other plugins like WooCommerce. But If you’ve got digital products, it’s a pretty good way to serve up those products to people who made the purchases.

Today, we’re going to be adding digital assets. So they’re not really products per se but they are large video file, a large audio file and a large PDF all of which will be served from the Amazon S3 account.

Amazon S3 Useful for for Backup Storage

And then you can also use it for things like backup storage. If you participated in the Backup Buddy seminars a few months ago, you saw that we configured Backup Buddy so that it would offload all of its backups on to the Amazon S3 account.

If you’re storing your backup files on an entirely different server so when catastrophe strikes, you actually have a backup that’s out of the way of the catastrophe. So there’s lots of different reasons for this and most all of them have to do with storing and delivering large files.

Private and Public Files on Amazon S3

Now when you talk about using Amazon S3, you really talk about whether files are private or public. Everything I’ve taught to date is all about how to use the private aspect of Amazon S3 for delivering files. Because by default, everything you store in Amazon S3 is private and can only be accessed by you.

What I teach in the eCommerce class and Backup Buddy and the like is the process of using software to communicate between your website and Amazon S3 to deliver private content to people who are rightfully accessing it.

Software Interface for Private Files

In any case, having private downloadable content that is content that is not available to the general public but available to people with with the right permissions, that requires software. So it requires Backup Buddy to do that or requires WP eStore or WooCommerce or some other application like that that stands in between the website and Amazon and communicates with the private aspect of Amazon.

How to Add Public Files on Amazon S3

What we’re going to be doing today is different than that because we are going to be creating public files, files that anybody can access. Now we don’t actually want the entire world just going there and accessing those files but what we’re doing is we’re using security through obscurity here. So we aren’t using any software in between Amazon S3 and the website but the only people who will be able to access these files are people who know the URL.

So this is something different than what I normally teach. I normally teach how to make the connection to private files on Amazon S3 and in this case, we will be placing links to public files on Amazon S3.

Setup a Free Account with Amazon S3

The very first thing you have to do is sign up for Amazon S3 and you’re going to do that at aws.amazon.com/s3. It’s actually, of course, amazon.com. And you can set up a free account right here. A free account will let you add some small number of files and have some small number of transferring.

It doesn’t take you very long before you start needing the additional space but it is very inexpensive. This last month, I spent $96 on my Amazon account and I use Amazon for two things – I use it for Cloudfront which delivers all of my images and all of my files on BYOB Website rather than having those processed and handled by the web server. And then I use Amazon S3 for storing backups and for delivering video.

That $96 this month constituted a 1.4 terabytes of data stored and transferred in the course of a month which is a huge, huge volume of data stored and transferred. That’s 2400 videos. That’s thousands of plays of videos. That’s several websites backed up on an hourly basis. I mean, it’s a huge amount of data that’s being stored and it only cost me $96 a month.

Back before Thesis 2, before our traffic really skyrocketed, it was costing us about $30 a month. So it’s very affordable, very inexpensive.

AWS Management Console

We’ve already got an account here set up and I’m already, in fact, logged in to John’s account. This is account’s been created but nothing has been set up yet. And so what we’re going to do is go over to AWS Management Console and you can get that from here. Actually, this the way I do it. Open that up and then go to the AWS Management Console.

Now, when you’re looking at this console, there’s a ton of stuff here. As soon as you sign up for AWS, you have access to lots and lots of different cloud computing resources. Almost all of this stuff is over my head and almost all of this stuff is for certain types of technical professionals but not for you or me.

Really, the only thing that sort of the ordinary website owner is ever going to interact with is S3 and all of the rest of this stuff is not really for non-technical professionals really. It’s not DIY kind of stuff.

From here we’re going to configure user permissions in Amazon S3.

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