​Philipp's Ramblings​

Written July 15th, 2013 by Philipp

How to create a (dirt cheap) backup of your backups using Amazon Glacier.

Here's a short how-to backup stuff using Amazon Glacier.

Why use Glacier?

Well, you probably create local backups of your stuff on NASs, USB hard drives and the like. But what if those get stolen or a somehow damaged? You might want to create an "off-premise" backup. And online storage doesn't come cheaper than Amazon Glacier. According to Amazons AWS calculator, 50GB of online storage will cost about 6 US dollars and 72 US cents. Per year! (100GB will set you back $12,60, a 1 Terabyte will cost you $120 a year and so on).

Costs are calculated based on three factors:

  1. The amount of data stored in Glacier (see above).

  2. The amount of files or single uploads (if you upload 10s of thousands of files it will eventually cost a few cents more. Pro tip: zip everything, upload the zip file).

  3. How fast you want to download your stuff, should you need to.

  4. Which data center your data is stored in. (Data centers on the US west coast are slightly cheaper than data centers in Europe or Asia).

There's two caveats: while upload is essentially free and storage is cheap, Glacier gets expensive if you want to download all your files fast. Spread the downloads out over a few days or weeks and it stays cheap.

The second caveat is: all Glacier upload apps unfortunately require Java.

So how do you use Glacier?

Easy. There's no GUI or app from Amazon, so you have to use a third party app. Cross FTP seems to be popular. I ended up using simpleglacieruploader.

Here's how you do it:

  1. Go to the AWS portal and sign up for AWS.

  2. Go to the AWS console and log in. (While you're at it, you might want to enable two-factor authentication. Amazon calls it "Multi-Factor Authentication" or MFA).

  3. Select "Glacier" from the "Services" drop down (top left).

  4. Select a site from the drop down (top right). It should say "Oregon" which is the cheapest site but you might want to select something closer to home.

  5. Create a vault. You can create several vaults but having just one seems to work fine.

  6. Click on your name (top right) and select "Security Credentials"

  7. Expand the area under "Access Keys" and click "Create New Root Key". Note the "Download root key" button, you should click it.

  8. You should now have downloaded a file called rootkey.csv. Open it to see two lines of text containing your "AWSAccessKey" and your "AWSSecretKey". Almost there!

  9. Go to SimpleGlacierUploader and download the .jar file.

  10. Run the .jar file and enter your AWS keys.

  11. Click "Refresh Vaults" and select your vault from the drop down.

  12. Done! Now all you have to do it upload your files and think of all the savings while you wait for the upload to complete.

There. The backup at home is now safely and redundantly stored "off site".

Now, how do I backup the backups of my backups in my Glacier account...

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