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Glossary // Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

What is S3?

Amazon S3 is a cloud service provided by AWS for secure, highly-available and redundant data storage.

It is used by customers of all sizes and industries for a number of use cases, including:

  • Backup and restore
  • Disaster recovery
  • Archive
  • Internet applications
  • Data lakes
  • Big data analytics
  • Hybrid cloud storage
  • Cloud-native application data storage

A web console, S3 Management Console, provides easy-to-use management features for organizing data and configuring finely-tuned access controls. Standardized protocols can also be used to upload and access Amazon S3. 

Amazon S3’s storage units are objects that are organized into buckets, which are used to organize files, like a folder. There is no limit on the number of objects that can be uploaded and each object can contain up to 5 TB of data, meaning that an infinite amount of data can be stored in buckets.

Buckets can be managed with the S3 Management Console, using the AWS SDK or with the Amazon S3 REST API. The HTTP GET interface and the BitTorrent protocol can be be used to download objects. Items in a bucket can also be served as a BitTorrent feed to reduce bandwidth costs for downloads.

The location of Amazon S3 buckets is specified using the s3 protocol (s3:// Protocol), which also specifies the prefix to be used for reading or writing files in a bucket. 

Permissions, revisions and other settings can be defined on a bucket level.

Upload and download permissions can be granted to up to three kinds of users. Authentication protects data from unauthorized access. 

When logging is enabled, the logs are stored in buckets and can be used for analyzing information, such as the:

  • Date and time of access to the requested content
  • Protocol used (e.g., HTTP, FTP)
  • HTTP status codes
  • Turnaround time
  • HTTP request message

These logs can be analyzed and managed with third-party tools.

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