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We have a small business website that needs to host lot of images and we are trying to decide if we need s3 to host all our images or should we just use a NAS for storing and hosting our images

Our website allows user to customize their Products with any uploaded art/photo image. The design images and user uploaded artwork images need to be stored. In addition We have 1000's of assets files for Product images,Design ideas images. So,we will adding images of approx 10gb per month.

The Products and design ideas pages will be accessed more frequently.When we ran our numbers we found that S3 costs comes to approx $$1500/month . (only for hosting images) (This is due to great number of put/list/get requests in accessing s3 for our site ).

We are not quite sure if we need to use S3 or use a dedicated storage server for hosting all our images or use a hybrid option- use S3 to host all user designs and uploaded files and dedicated server for all assets images that has lot of requests.

Currently we only have 1 web server that serves all images and assets on its local drive and it does work ok.

We do have a System Administrator who can manage our dedicated servers well if we decide not to use s3 at all.

(We are not considering about Ec2 here and are going to have our web server running on one of our dedicated server only)

Can you please tell your thoughts and a solution to this?Will it be economical to maintain our own Storage and retrieving it than from S3.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 19 '11 at 14:22

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2 Answers

This data is obviously very import to your business. So managing the risk of data loss is very important as well. Take the following into consideration:

Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability. Basically, your data will be very well protected against hardware failure as well as against things such as power & network problems. Their data centers are probably much more resilient and protected against things like fire, hurricanes, theft, etc...

Implementing and maintaining your own NAS will cost you in terms of acquiring the hardware, putting it together, learning how it works, testing it, rolling it to production, monitoring it, etc... A highly-available NAS (meaning a mirror of 2 or more NAS heads each with their own set of drives) will cost you even more. And you still won't be on par with S3 - especially if you are hosting it in an office and not in a real data center. If you are hosting your servers from your own office, how well are they protected against fire, theft, power outages? Also, do you have redundant networking to protect against network hardware failures? What if your SA is on vacation and something happens to your NAS system? When your SA leaves your company, you will have to find an SA who knows how to manage your custom system. If that weren't enough, do you have a disaster recovery plan that includes having off-site copies of your data in case your server room burned to the ground?

Hosting your own NAS could be as cheap as using a lower-end solution from drobo.com or synology.com. A more scalable, mid-range solution is to build your own NAS with products from coraid.com and nexenta.com or going with a custom-built system from any of the companies listed at nexenta.com partners/resellers. These solutions will also take more time to implement than going with S3.

No matter which solution you choose, be sure you are doing regular backups of your data. Sure, a fault-tolerant storage solution will protect against hardware failure, but it won't protect against user error and malicious activities.

I hope this is helpful to you!

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If S3 is going to cost you $1500/month -- you can get a full rack with power and managed Internet for close to that at a professionally managed data center. And if you find a data center that does half or quarter racks, you could probably get that down even further.

If you have a web server now, a second "image-data-only" web server, a firewall, and a switch should put you in the 6U range, so a quarter rack should be plenty.

If you have the capital to pickup a couple extra servers, I strongly encourage you to run your own. In the long run it will save you lots of money. This operates on the assumption that you don't require S3 uptime, and since you're gonna run your own web server anyway, I presume that doesn't matter.

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