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Amazon Glacier vs Amazon S3: What are the differences?


In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3, two popular cloud storage services offered by Amazon.

  1. Storage Architecture: Amazon Glacier is designed for long-term data archival and backup while Amazon S3 is primarily used for frequently accessed data storage. Glacier offers a slower retrieval time (usually hours) and lower storage costs compared to S3, making it suitable for data that doesn't require immediate retrieval. On the other hand, S3 provides faster retrieval times and is ideal for storing more frequently accessed data.

  2. Data Accessibility: In Glacier, retrieving data can be a time-consuming process with retrieval times ranging from several minutes to hours. This delay is due to the storage architecture and the need for data to be restored from the archives. In contrast, Amazon S3 offers immediate access to stored data, with virtually no retrieval delay. This difference in accessibility is crucial for applications that require fast data access and real-time processing.

  3. Storage Costs: Glacier offers significantly lower storage costs compared to Amazon S3. Glacier's pricing model is based on the amount of data stored and the retrieval time required. It is most cost-effective for data that is rarely accessed. In contrast, Amazon S3 has higher storage costs but is more suitable for frequently accessed data where retrieval time is crucial.

  4. Data Durability: Both Glacier and S3 ensure high data durability. However, Glacier provides an additional layer of durability by automatically creating multiple copies of data within multiple availability zones. This extra protection adds an extra layer of redundancy, making Glacier a more reliable choice for long-term data storage and archival purposes.

  5. Data Lifecycles: Amazon S3 supports lifecycle policies that allow for automated transitions of data between different storage classes. This feature enables the movement of data from S3 to Glacier for cost savings once the data becomes less frequently accessed. On the other hand, Glacier does not support lifecycle policies and is designed specifically for long-term archival, without the need for frequent transitions or retrieval.

  6. Access Control and Permissions: Both Glacier and S3 offer fine-grained access control and permission management. However, S3 provides more flexibility in terms of access control, allowing granular control at both the bucket and object level. It supports complex access control policies and integrates with other AWS services for more extensive permission management. Glacier, while still maintaining access control capabilities, has a simpler permission model compared to S3.

In summary, the key differences between Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3 lie in their storage architecture, data accessibility, storage costs, data durability, data lifecycles, and access control and permissions. Glacier is best suited for long-term data archival and backup with low storage costs but slower retrieval times. S3 is ideal for frequently accessed data with faster retrieval times, higher storage costs, and more advanced access control capabilities.

Decisions about Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3
Gabriel Pa

We offer our customer HIPAA compliant storage. After analyzing the market, we decided to go with Google Storage. The Nodejs API is ok, still not ES6 and can be very confusing to use. For each new customer, we created a different bucket so they can have individual data and not have to worry about data loss. After 1000+ customers we started seeing many problems with the creation of new buckets, with saving or retrieving a new file. Many false positive: the Promise returned ok, but in reality, it failed.

That's why we switched to S3 that just works.

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Pros of Amazon Glacier
Pros of Amazon S3
  • 6
    Cold Storage
  • 3
    Easy Setup
  • 1
  • 590
  • 492
  • 456
  • 329
    Simple & easy
  • 83
    Many sdks
  • 30
  • 13
    Easy Setup
  • 11
  • 11
    1000+ POPs
  • 6
  • 4
    Plug and play
  • 4
  • 3
    Web UI for uploading files
  • 2
    Faster on response
  • 2
  • 2
    GDPR ready
  • 1
    Easy to use
  • 1
  • 1
    Easy integration with CloudFront

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Cons of Amazon Glacier
Cons of Amazon S3
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 7
      Permissions take some time to get right
    • 6
      Requires a credit card
    • 6
      Takes time/work to organize buckets & folders properly
    • 3
      Complex to set up

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    What is Amazon Glacier?

    In order to keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable. With Amazon Glacier, customers can reliably store large or small amounts of data for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month, a significant savings compared to on-premises solutions.

    What is Amazon S3?

    Amazon Simple Storage Service provides a fully redundant data storage infrastructure for storing and retrieving any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web

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    What companies use Amazon Glacier?
    What companies use Amazon S3?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Amazon Glacier or Amazon S3.
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    What tools integrate with Amazon Glacier?
    What tools integrate with Amazon S3?

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    What are some alternatives to Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3?
    Google Drive
    Keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. Your first 15 GB of storage are free with a Google Account. Your files in Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
    Google Cloud Storage
    Google Cloud Storage allows world-wide storing and retrieval of any amount of data and at any time. It provides a simple programming interface which enables developers to take advantage of Google's own reliable and fast networking infrastructure to perform data operations in a secure and cost effective manner. If expansion needs arise, developers can benefit from the scalability provided by Google's infrastructure.
    It runs continually in the background of a device, providing constant backup of new files. Any time a new file is created or an existing file is changed, the product adds the file to a "to do" list.
    Harness the power of Dropbox. Connect to an account, upload, download, search, and more.
    JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
    See all alternatives