Price Tipping Point: S3 vs. Local

All excited about my recent experience backing up some critical files to Amazon S3, I asked Adam Tow if he’d considered using S3 for his photo backups. Adam and I have talked about backup strategies a number of times over the years, so I was curious to get his thoughts on the S3 option.

For me, S3 is a no-brainer. My most critical files are in my source code repository. Weighing in at ~1.5GB, this costs a whopping $.22/month or so at S3.

However Adam’s a photographer. His photo backups are in the 500GB range now. That’s $75/month at S3. Over the course of a year, that adds up to some real coin (probably breaking $1000 including transfer fees). With hard drives as cheap as they are, Adam’s use of NAS boxes makes a lot of sense.

Sure Amazon is likely more reliable, but the local storage is faster, yada-yada-yada.

So the next question is: where is the tipping point, price-wise? My guess is that once you cross the 100GB barrier ($~200/year) and definitely by the time you get into the 200GB range (~$400/year), S3 starts to look like less of a bargain compared to backing up to local hard drives.