This post and video is by my friend Deacon Bradley from LifeStoked.com. He helps people create more freedom, more money, and more fulfillment through lifestyle businesses. Through frequent use, he’s become an expert at Amazon S3 and I’ve asked him to share how to use it for small business. Check out the video and dive in to the text if you need an inexpensive place to host files.
There’s a handful of tools that I recommend coaches and lifestyle business owners to implement no matter what their niche. They are tools to enhance your client experience and polish your the professional feel of interacting with your business.
One of those tools is Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). Sadly, S3 goes largely unused by the majority of small businesses and bloggers because it’s not crystal clear what it is or how to use it. After reading this article though you’ll have three very powerful ways that Amazon S3 can help in your own lifestyle business.
What is Amazon S3 anyway?
Amazon S3 is basically a huge online hard drive. Once you sign up for an account through Amazon, you can store as many files as you want and only pay for what you use (about 12 cents per gigabyte per month).
There are two things that S3 is very good at:
- storing files (very) securely
- serving files (very) quickly
Both of these will help you protect your most prized business assets, and create a first-class user experience.
Three ways Amazon S3 will help your business
Archive your important files
Everyone has files that are critical to their business and personal lives. If you’re not backing them up someplace offsite (away from your computer’s location), you could be in for a tough time if disaster strikes. Apple’s Time Machine (for example) is an amazing system to backup your computer locally, but it is not protection against theft or fire!
S3 makes it easy to create an offsite backup of your important files so you’ll never be caught unprepared. Amazon has done all the heavy lifting to ensure your S3 files are securely stored in multiple locations so there’s no single point of failure. You can rest assured your files are extremely safe in your S3 account!
I store my huge library of ebooks, presentations, and screencasts on S3 to keep them safe. I’ve spent years developing and curating a library of information to help me succeed, and it’s important to me to secure it.
A great tool that can help you automate this process is Jungledisk. For $2 a month (plus your S3 storage fees) Jungledisk will automatically upload your important files and folders every night to your own S3 account.
That’s the part I love the most: Because Jungledisk uses your S3 account to store your backups, you own all of the data. If Jungledisk keels over one day (as internet businesses sometimes do) your data is still safely stored on Amazon’s servers in your account (I suspect that Amazon isn’t going out of business anytime soon).
Jungledisk also allows you to mount your S3 account as an external hard drive so you can drag-and-drop files onto S3 like you would any other device. Think of it like a really secure, highly redundant Dropbox.
Blazing file downloads for your site
S3 is equally great at serving files you’ve stored on it. For example, if you download my eBook 7 Ways to Profit from a Lifestyle Business, you’ll download a PDF straight from my S3 account, not from lifestoked.com.
Why? With a shared hosting account service speed is never guaranteed. You’ve probably had the experience where you click to download a PDF from someone’s server and it’s slow. Really slow. It’s not the experience you want to provide someone who’s just raised their hand to say they’d love some more content from you.
The bigger the download, the more critical it is to get it off your site, and onto S3. By hosting your downloads on S3 and making them public (see the demo video), you can rest assured the download will go smoothly and quickly no matter how big the file or where people are located.
I use S3 to quickly serve downloads of:
- eBooks & worksheets
- Call recordings for clients
- Private screencasts from an online course
WordPress backups with BackupBuddy
Perhaps the most critical way I use Amazon S3 in my business is with a (paid) wordpress plugin called BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy makes complete archives of my site periodically and automatically stores them on S3. It copies the database, images, plugins, widgets, and settings, zips it up, and uploads it to S3 for me.
Most WordPress backup solutions only backup the database. That’s better than nothing, but there’s a lot more to your site than just the words on the page and some basic settings. There are images, widgets, plugins, and a huge number of little tweaks you’ve made along the way you probably don’t even remember.
If something catastrophic happens to your site, you can rebuild it from the latest backup in minutes, not hours or days. With the backups stored safely in your S3 account, you can guarantee that you’ve got a complete working copy when you need it.
How will S3 help you?
Whether you need to beef up your backup system or enhance your download experience, S3 can hook you up – cheap! These are three methods that I use, and I personally recommend all my clients also use to keep their business running smoothly. You’ve invested a lot of effort into building your business, so protect it!