in HTPC, Mac

Automated iPhoto backups to Amazon S3

The combination of parental leave, a Sony A100 10 Mpix camera and the 80 Gb HD of my Mac mini server has resulted in a lot of zeroes and ones needing a place to live. I have realized that a lof of valuable photos are only stored on the HD. Should it fail the family will be really disappointed. Hence, the need for a backup solution.

I was planning to get a small RAID solution for the home network, but they are fairly expensive, need electricity and space. So, I had a look at the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). If you haven’t heard of S3 before:

Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites.

I was expecting S3 to be fairly expensive with the redundancy and all, but it turns out that it is cheap. Really cheap. To calculate what it would cost me to backup my iPhoto library I threw together an iPhoto backup to S3 calculator.

Turns out that starting with 2000 photos at around 2 megs each, adding 100 photos each month willcost me $10/year. Hard to beat if you are trying to build your own RAID solution.

Backup software

Here is the setup I use. I tried some of the S3 client libraries available, but the only one that was persistent enough to do the initial 2000 file sync was jets3t. It is a java library that comes with some easy to use command line synchronization scripts. After setting up jets3t with your S3 API key, all you do is tell the synchronize script to check your iPhoto folder.

Currently, I run it as a scheduled job once a month, but depending on your photography habits you may want to trigger it differently. It works like a charm and last month’s bill from Amazon was $1.23.

Try the calculator and see what your cost would be.

  1. Nice calclulator, but should the initial xfer cost maybe also be included to be fully accurate?

  2. Does this solution work with iPhoto ’08? I believe the file structure has changed so that all the photos are stored in one file instead of individual files?

  3. @Mark: This works fine with iPhoto 08. Potos are stored in a folder (that appears to be a file in Finder) that you can access through the terminal.

  4. Have you tried restoring your backup yet? Just wondering how well that works. Can you just use jetS3t to copy all the files back to your hard drive and then tell iPhoto to use that as its library?

    Also, does JetS3t support pausing/resuming the upload? My iPhoto library is around 10 gig now. If the transfer died in the middle, can I resume or will it have to restart from scratch?


  5. Looks like the link to your S3 calculator is not working. I’m getting an access denied error.

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