Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Amazon Cloud Drive

Kirby Turner:

Amazon Cloud Drive is the solution I’ve been looking for to archive my old data to the cloud. I’ll continue using external hard drives, Dropbox, Backblaze and such for backups, but my days with SmugMugs might be numbered. Still, I’m excited to finally have an affordable cloud storage solution for my old data.


Unlimited photo storage, plus 5 GB for videos and files for just $11.99 per year.


Securely store all of your photos, videos, files and documents for just $59.99 per year.

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OK. Clicked on both links. So what's the catch here? Is there a minuscule file size limitation? What small print is hiding?

Or more to the point, why doesn't this fully cannibalize Amazon S3 for non-business customers?

@Chucky I’m not sure. It even has an API.

"I’m not sure. It even has an API."

Bizarre. There's really gotta be something in the fine print, no?

I mean, I don't even need complicated client software. But are they really going to let me toss up 5TB of sparsebundles or sparseimages, and then let me toss up a few incremental versions of the same? And let me upload and download them at a reasonable speed. For $60/yr?

I mean, if there really isn't something in the fine print, that's the deal of the century.

It's bizarrely difficult (aka, impossible for me so far), to find out the fine print on Cloud Drive from the Amazon website.

All I've been able to find so far is this news story from I site I'm unfamiliar with, and thus obviously isn't trustworthy to me. But, FWIW, they seem to imply there is no fine print:

The real killer is the $59.99 Unlimited Everything Plan.

Anyone — consumer, small business or enterprise — can get unlimited cloud storage on Amazon Cloud Drive. There are no per-user costs, no caps on maximum individual file size. For enterprise users, the $612/year Box plan that covers only three users and prohibits uploading files greater than 5GB is now going up against Amazon Cloud Drive that offers the same unlimited storage with no file size restrictions at less than a tenth of the price.

I read elsewhere that uploads are quite speedy.

Most of the coverage is about how the service is useless, since it doesn't have the kinds of bells and whistles that Dropbox and the others have. But that obviously ignores folks who just want to do rolling backups, such as current Amazon S3 / Arq customers.

And if there really ends up being no fine print, it doesn't just cannibalize S3 for personal users; it cannibalizes S3 for everyone in a purely backup context. Developers, businesses. Where does it end?

Hell, if this is all genuinely true, I don't even need Arq anymore. Just use DropDMG or CCC to create an encrypted, timestamped backup every month, along with whatever archival material you've got, and voila!

(I guess I ought to try emailing Amazon customer service to see if I can work my way up to someone who'll send me a copy of the TOS.)

@Chucky I wonder if Stefan has looked into the fine print.

Stefan is dead to me, since he's stopped supporting Snowy. :-)

(God, I genuinely hate using emoticons, but simply couldn't see a way around it there.)

But yeah. Good point. I'd strongly assume he'd be as up to date on the details as anyone. I'd rather harass Amazon first, but if they're opaque, I guess emailing Stefan wouldn't be a bad idea. If this is an area of more than passing interest to you as well, and you twit with him on occasion, toss him a query.

Well, just noticed that Amazon has finally put up a TOS. The three interesting takeaways:

1) No commercial usage. They're explicit about that meaning that you can't run a service that uses this as its storage back-end. But they're not explicit about whether or not, say a small business, can use it as their backup service.

2) "There may be limits on the types of content you can store and share using the Service, such as file types we don't support.." This one totally baffles me. What kind of file types wouldn't they support? I guess I'll have to sign up for the trial to see if .sparseimages and/or .sparebundles are "supported".

3) "We may terminate the Agreement or restrict, suspend or terminate your use of the Service at our discretion without notice at any time, including if we determine that your use ... substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users..." And there, finally, is the big caveat! So "unlimited" really means something along the lines of 'not more storage or transfers than the bottom 98% of our customers'.

Term #3 really gives me pause on even bothering with the thing at all. I obviously don't want to package and upload a couple of terabytes only to then find out that I'm abruptly terminated with no ability to get my data back. I guess I'll try contacting support first to see if they're willing to provide any kind of clarification, but I have my doubts they would do so. Without rules of the road, what use is the thing for backup?

Test to see why last comment didn't post. (Comments on old threads go to moderation for spam reasons, maybe?)

@Chucky Thanks for the comment. This sounds much less useful than we thought—then again, before it sounded too good to be true.

For some reason, WordPress put both of your comments directly into spam, not moderation. I’m not sure why. Currently, I don’t have old threads configured any differently, and it should know that you’ve made lots of approved comments.

"This sounds much less useful than we thought—then again, before it sounded too good to be true."

Well, after multiple support requests, finally got through to someone on the Cloud Services support team who assured me that "unlimited" really does mean "unlimited", and that the TOS are just about preventing commercial usage.

So, maybe it actually is as good as it sounded, even if it means something like Arq can't leverage it.

I'm going to sign up and give it a go. If everything goes well, given that my MSO has liberal CCI-byte policies, I can now even back up my offloaded TiVo recordings in the cloud...

Also, even more importantly, the Cloud Services guy assured me (in writing) that warnings would be issued about any 'issues' prior to termination, so I could get my data back in case of any disagreement. That was really what sealed the deal for me.

Next, during the free trial, we'll see if big .sparseimages are file types they "support"...

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