Understanding AWS S3 Amazon: 3 Critical Aspects

Amit Phaujdar • Last Modified: February 26th, 2023

Understanding Amazon S3

AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service) Amazon was developed as an Object Storage Service, offering cutting-edge scalability, data availability, performance, and security. Amazon S3 allows customers of all industries and sizes to protect and store any amount of data for a vast array of use cases namely Websites, Mobile Applications, Data Lakes, Archives, Backup and Restore, Enterprise Applications, Big Data Analytics, and IoT devices. 

This article talks about AWS S3 Amazon in great detail highlighting some key topics like its features, benefits, and various use cases. 

Table of Contents

Prerequisites: What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a cloud computing web service that allows you to store data on the Internet through cloud computing vendors. These vendors manage, operate, and provide data storage resources as a service. Cloud storage eliminates buying and managing your own data storage infrastructure. It is delivered on-demand with just in time capacity and costs and eradicates the hassle of the traditional on-premises storage system.

Cloud storage can be purchased from third-party cloud vendors.  These vendors make sure of the storage, security, durability, and make your data accessible to your application across all edges of the world.

Storing data in the cloud comes with many benefits and reduces the hassle of the IT department regarding the management of the storage system.

Cloud storage leverages you to a pay-as-you-go model.

Type of Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage has mainly three types: object storage, file storage, and block storage.

Each type of storage has its own pros and cons along with use cases.

  1. Object Storage

Object Storage is also known as object-based storage. It is a data storage architecture suitable for large volumes of unstructured data. Object storage solutions like Amazon Simple Storage Service(S3) are considered to be ideal for developing modern applications from scratch that require scalability and flexibility.

  1. File Storage

Cloud file storage is a method of storing data in the cloud that allows servers and applications to access the data through a shared file system. Network Attached Storage(NAS) supports this type of storage. File storage solutions like Amazon Elastic File System(EFS) are considered to be ideal for applications that require large content repositories, development environments, media storage, or user home directories.

  1. Block Storage

Block Storage is also referred to as block-level storage. It is generally used to store data files across Storage Area Networks (SANs) or Direct Attached Storage (DAS). Block-based cloud storage solutions like Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) are equipped with each virtual server and provide ultra-low latency.

Types of AWS Storage

AWS provides multiple storages services, some of them are mentioned below: 

Types of AWS Storage
Image Source: simplilearn.com
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store(EBS)
  • Amazon Elastic File System(EFS)
  • Amazon FSx for Lustre
  • Amazon FSx for OpenZFS
  • Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP
  • Amazon FSx for Windows File Server
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service(S3)
  • AWS Backup
  • Storage Gateway

What is AWS S3 Amazon?

AWS S3 Amazon logo
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AWS S3 Amazon houses simple yet intuitive data management functionalities that allow you to configure finely-tuned access controls and organize your data to meet your specific organizational, business, and compliance requirements.

AWS S3 Amazon has been designed to provide a robust and durable framework that can store data for millions of applications for companies across the world.

Why need AWS S3?

Manual management and storage of organizational-level data require time and manpower. In addition, running applications, serving content to clients, hosting high-traffic websites, or backing up email and other files required a lot of storage space. Also, managing an organization’s repository was expensive and time-consuming for a variety of reasons. The challenges are:

  • On-premises hardware setup and installation required
  • Dedicated IT team is required for maintenance and system availability
  • Poor scalability as per requirement basis
  • Risk in Data security

Above mentioned challenges would eventually lead to hampering business growth. AWS S3 would help in overcoming this limitation.

Create an Amazon AWS Account

To leverage the benefits of AWS S3, the first thing you should do is create an AWS Account. If you already have an AWS account then it’s good to go or in case you don’t have one, you can create one with this link. AWS homepage looks like the image given below. You can find the Create an AWS Account button in the top right corner.

AWS Homepage Screen
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Next, you will be redirected to the AWS Sign-up page

After filling in the required details like name, email address, etc., you’ll have to enter credit card information:

Sign up for AWS
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After successfully creating an AWS account, you need to log in to your account.

Go to the AWS homepage at aws.amazon.com and click My Account/Console in the top-right corner and then select AWS Management Console.

You will land on the console page as shown below.

AWS Management Console
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Choose S3 available under the Storage section placed near the bottom of the page.

To Create Bucket in the S3 console, click on Create Bucket:

aws create s3 bucket
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Fill in the required details like bucket name and region. The bucket name should act as a unique identifier among all AWS bucket names. You cannot remain the bucket name after creating so choose the name descriptive of what the content will be stored in the bucket.

aws create s3 bucket
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Click create after filling in the required details. Your new bucket should be displayed in the S3 buckets console.

aws create s3 bucket
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What are the Features of AWS S3 Amazon?

AWS S3 Amazon offers various features that you can utilize to manage and organize your data. Data is stored here as objects in something called ‘buckets’. Amazon S3 features include capabilities like configuring and enforcing data access controls and monitoring data at the object and bucket levels among so many others. Here is a list of features of AWS S3 Amazon:

  1. S3 Intelligent Tiering
  2. S3 Storage Lens
  3. S3 Access Points
  4. S3 Object Lambda
  5. S3 Batch Operations
  6. S3 Block Public Access

1. S3 Intelligent Tiering

S3 Intelligent Tiering allows you to optimize storage costs by automatically moving objects between the four access tiers whenever there’s a change in the access patterns. Two opt-in archive access tiers are designed for asynchronous data access with cost savings for objects that are rarely accessed up to 95%. The other two access tiers are low latency access tiers optimized for infrequent and frequent access to help you save up to 40% on storage costs.

The objects that are transitioned or uploaded to S3 Intelligent Tiering are automatically stored in the Frequent Access Tier. This tiering system works by monitoring access patterns and then shifting the objects that have not been accessed for 30 consecutive days to the Infrequent Access Tier. 

Once one or both of the archive access tiers have been activated, S3 Intelligent Tiering will move the objects to the Archive Access Tier or the Deep Archive Access Tier. The objects that haven’t been accessed in the last 90 days move to the Archive Access Tier and Deep Archive Access Tier otherwise. 

AWS S3 Intelligent Tiering Diagram
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2. S3 Storage Lens

S3 Storage Lens offers organization-wide visibility into activity trends, and object storage usage, and provides actionable recommendations to apply the best practices for data protection and improve cost efficiency. This is the first Cloud Storage Analytics solution to provide a unified view of object storage usage and activity across hundreds of accounts in an organization. S3 Storage Lens also offers drill-downs to generate insights at the bucket, account, or prefix level. 

It can analyze organization-wide metrics to deliver contextual recommendations and find ways to reduce storage costs and improve efficiency in the process. 

AWS S3 Storage Lens Diagram
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3. S3 Access Points

S3 Access Points simplify Data Access Management at scale for applications using shared datasets on S3. Access Points are defined as unique hostnames created by the customers to enforce network controls and distinct permissions for any request made through the access point.

Customers with user-generated content and shared datasets like Media Archives and Data Lakes can easily scale for hundreds of applications. This is done by creating individualized access points with permissions and names tailored for each application. You can restrict any access point to a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to firewall AWS S3 Amazon data access within private networks of customers. You can use AWS Service Control Policies to ensure that all access points are VPC restricted.  

AWS S3 Access Points Diagram
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4. S3 Object Lambda

S3 Object Lambda allows you to add your code to AWS S3 Amazon GET requests to modify and process data as it returns to an application. For the first time, custom code can be used to modify the data returned by standard S3 GET requests to dynamically resize images, redact confidential data, filter rows, and much more.

S3 Object Lambda is powered by AWS Lambda functions, which means that your code runs on AWS-managed infrastructure. This eliminates the need to store and create derivative copies of your data or to run expensive copies, all with no changes required for applications.

You can configure a Lambda function and attach it to an S3 Object Lambda Access Point in just a few clicks. AWS S3 Amazon can then automatically call your Lambda function to process any data retrieved through the S3 Object Lambda Access Point. It returns a transformed result to the application.

AWS S3 Object Lambda Diagram
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5. S3 Batch Operations

This is an AWS S3 Amazon Data Management feature that helps you manage billions of objects at scale through a single API request or the Amazon S3 Management Console in just a few clicks.

To carry out work in an S3 Batch operation, you need to first create a job. The job consists of the list of the objects, the set of parameters, and the actions to be performed for that type of operation. You can create and run multiple jobs at a time or use job priorities in S3 Batch Operations to define the precedence of each job. This ensures that the most critical work happens first.

S3 Batch Operations also tracks progress, manages retries, generates reports, sends completion notifications, and delivers events to AWS CloudTrail for all tasks executed and changes made.

AWS S3 Batch Operations Diagram
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6. S3 Block Public Access

This provides control access across an entire AWS account or at the individual AWS S3 Amazon bucket level. This ensures that objects never have public access at any point in time. Public Access can be granted to objects and buckets through Bucket Policies or Access Control Lists (ACLs) or both. To block access to all your S3 objects and buckets, you can block all public access at the account level.

The S3 Block Public Access settings override AWS S3 Amazon permissions that permit public access. This makes it easy for the account administrator to ensure a centralized control and prevent any variations in the security configuration. This is carried out regardless of how an object is added or a bucket is created.

AWS S3 Block Public Access Diagram
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What are the Benefits of AWS S3 Amazon?

Here is a list of benefits offered by AWS S3 Amazon:

  1. Vast Range of Cost-Effective Storage Class
  2. Query-In-Place and Process On-Request
  3. Most Supported Cloud Storage Service
  4. Easily Manage Access and Data Controls
  5. Unparalleled Compliance, Security, and Audit Capabilities

1. Vast Range of Cost-Effective Storage Classes

By storing data across S3 Storage Classes, you can cut down on costs without compromising performance. The S3 Storage Classes support different access levels at corresponding rates. S3 Storage Class Analysis can be used to discover data that should be shifted to a lower-cost storage class based on access patterns. This transfer can be executed by configuring an S3 Lifecycle policy. With the S3 Outposts Storage Class, you can store data on-premises in your Outposts environment and meet the data residency requirements. 

2. Query-In-Place and Process On-Request

Amazon S3’s Query-In-Place services allow you to run Big Data Analytics across your S3 objects. You can leverage Amazon Athena to query S3 data with the standard SQL expressions. Amazon Redshift Spectrum can be used to analyze data that is stored across your AWS Data Warehouses and S3 resources. To retrieve subsets of object data, and improve query performance by up to 400%, you can use S3 Select.  

3. Most Supported Cloud Storage Service

You can protect and store your data in Amazon S3 by collaborating with a partner from the AWS Partner Network (APN), the largest community of consulting cloud and technological service providers. The APN recognizes migration partners that help move data to Amazon S3 and storage partners that offer S3-integrated solutions for various use cases. An AWS-integrated solution can be directly purchased from the AWS Marketplace, which lists over 250 storage-specific offerings. 

4. Easily Manage Access and Data Controls

AWS S3 Amazon offers robust capabilities to manage Data Protection, Access, Cost, and Data Replication. S3 Replication is responsible for Data Replication Management within the region or across other regions. Since S3 works in tandem with AWS Lambda, you can define alerts and automate key workflows without managing additional infrastructure. 

5. Unparalleled Compliance, Security, and Audit Capabilities  

You can secure your S3 data from unauthorized access with Access Management Tools and encryption features. S3 maintains compliance programs like HIPAA/HITECH, PCI-DSS, FedRAMP, and FISMA to help you meet regulatory requirements. Amazon integrates with Amazon Macie to discover and protect your data. 

AWS also supports various auditing capabilities to monitor access requests to your S3 resources.  

What is the AWS S3 Amazon Use Cases?

Here are the various use cases of AWS S3 Amazon:

1. Hybrid Cloud Storage

You can easily set up private connectivity between Amazon S3 and on-premise devices with AWS PrivateLink. You can also provide the private endpoints in a VPC to allow direct access to S3 from On-Premise solutions. This can be done through the private IPs on your VPC. AWS Storage Gateway lets you extend and connect your On-Premise applications to AWS Storage while caching your data locally for low-latency access. 

The data transfer between On-Premise storage can be automated easily. This includes S3 on Outposts and Amazon S3 on AWS DataSync which can transfer data at speeds up to 10 times faster than open-source tools. With the AWS Transfer Family, you can directly transfer files in and out of Amazon S3. This is a simple, seamless, and fully managed service that enables secure file exchanges with third parties using FTPS, SFTP, and FTP.  

You can also enable a Hybrid Cloud storage environment to work with a gateway provider from the APN as an alternative solution.  

2. Cloud-Native Applications

You can build cost-effective, fast internet-based, and mobile applications by utilizing AWS services and Amazon S3 to store development and production data shared by the microservices that comprise the Cloud-Native applications. Amazon S3 allows you to upload any amount of data that can be accessed from anywhere. This comes in handy during deployment, since it allows you to deploy the applications faster and reach more users.

Amazon S3 also gives you access to the latest AWS developer tools, S3 API, along with services for analytics and machine learning to optimize and innovate your Cloud-Native applications.

3. Archive

You can now archive data with S3 Glacier Deep Dive and S3 Glacier. They can retain objects for the long term at the lowest rates. With S3 Object Lock, you can apply retention dates to objects to protect them from deletions, and meet the requirements. S3 Glacier lets you restore archived objects in very little time for faster retrievals. Bulk Data Restores from S3 Glacier and all restores from S3 Glacier Deep Dive can be completed within 12 hours to improve efficiency.     

4. Data Lakes and Big Data Analytics

You can accelerate innovation by setting up a Data Lake in Amazon S3 that allows you to extract valuable insights using machine learning tools, analytics, and query in place. AWS Lake Formation can be used to quickly create a Data Lake and centrally define and enforce security, governance, and auditing policies. This service is responsible for collecting the data across your databases and S3 resources and transferring it to a new Data Lake in Amazon S3. Once transferred, it can be cleaned and classified using machine learning algorithms.

You can easily scale up all your AWS resources to accommodate your expanding data stores without any upfront investments.    

5. Disaster Recovery

You can protect critical data, IT systems, and applications running on the AWS Cloud or your On-Premises environment. This can be carried out without incurring the expense of a second physical site. You can create DR (Disaster Recovery) architectures with S3 Cross-Region Application, Amazon S3 Storage, other AWS Compute, database services, and networking. The DR architecture can be used to easily recover data from outages caused by system failures, human errors, and natural disasters fairly quickly.  

6. Backup and Restore

You can build scalable, secure, and durable backup and restore solutions with Amazon S3 and various other AWS services such as Amazon EFS, Amazon EBS, and S3 Glacier to replace or augment their existing on-premise capabilities. APN and AWS partners can help you meet Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), and compliance requirements. You can use the AWS Cloud or the AWS Storage Gateway, a hybrid storage service that can be used to send backups of on-premises data to AWS. 

Amazon S3 pricing

You need to pay to store the objects in your S3 bucket. Charges will vary depending on the size of the object, duration of how long the object has been stored within one month, and the storage class (S3 Standard, S3 Intelligent Tiering, S3 Standard-Infrequent Access, S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access, S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval, S3 Glacier), Flexible Retrieval(formerly S3 Glacier), and S3 Glacier Deep Archive. To monitor access patterns and move objects between access hierarchies, pay a monthly monitoring and automation fee for each object stored in the S3 Intelligent-Tiering storage class. With S3 Intelligent Tiering, there are no acquisition or additional tiering charges when objects are moved between access hierarchies. 

As per S3 Standard pricing scheme First 50 TB / Month costs $0.023 per GB,  Next 450 TB / Month costs $0.022 per GB, and  Over 500 TB / Month costs $0.021 per GB.

Competitors of AWS S3

  1. Google Cloud Storage
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Google Cloud Storage is integrated object storage for developers and businesses, from live data delivery to data analytics / ML and data archiving. The best thing about Google Cloud Storage is that it’s easy to create buckets and store files. You can easily upload any format of the included file. GCS buckets also offer the option to create folders and subfolders to facilitate data maintenance.

2. Azure Blob Storage

Azure Blob Storage logo
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Azure Blob storage provides a service for storing large amounts of unstructured object data, such as JSON, text, or binary data, that can be accessed from anywhere in the world via HTTP or HTTPS. It is highly protected with industry-standard encryption, easily accessible, and compatible with in-house developed applications. You can access the file immediately. Use the Microsoft operating system to improve performance.


This article talks about AWS S3 Amazon in great detail while shedding light on some key topics like its features and benefits. It begins with a brief introduction of AWS S3 Amazon and wraps up with the various use cases of AWS S3 Amazon.

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