So, it's officially called Simple Storage Service and we joking refer to it as the Amazon Unlimited Internet File Server, but it's actully much better than even that.
It’s the place you put your files as a first step to doing something interesting with them. If you’re coming from a traditional web hosting background, it’s similar to how you’d FTP or SSH your files from your development.
It stores the images and other assets for websites, keeps backup and shares files between services, and hosts static websites. Also, many of the other AWS services write and read from S3.
If you have site that is just HTML + images, S3 is a fantastic way to host it. Many FTP clients have added the ability to connect with S3, making it very easy to get going.
The "FTP" Client Transmit's S3 config
The process couldn’t be easier:
Nowadays, it is very common that web applications let users upload images for sharing or just to have a custom avatar.
At even a small scale this becomes a big storage issue. You’ll typically split the originally uploaded image up into a bunch of different sizes to handle different use cases.
You have a business that does lots of analysis of big text files (SEC filing documents, legal briefs or my unedited screenplay for Big Momma’s House 10). You’d first put these files onto S3 before pushing them around to other AWS services for analysis.
S3 is integrated enough that it will even kick off events for you. So when you upload your TPSReport-203043.txt, it can pass it off to another service to be processed.
If you’re hosting your apps internally or with a non AWS web host, copying over backups from there is a great way to reduce your overall risk.
If you’d like to play around with the basics of S3 and get a feel for what it can do, I’d recommend the AWS tutorial on Setting up a Static Website. While simple, you’ll touch at least briefly on most of the AWS features.
Read this Next: S3 Buckets of Objects