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How to host Media Files on Amazon S3 with CloudBerry Explorer (part 1)


In this post we will discuss the advantages of storing media content of your website on Amazon S3 and how CloudBerry Explorer can help.  

Overview

If you want to learn how to get your Amazon S3 account you can read our previous post here

One of the typical ways to improve scalability of high traffic website is to serve it contents from several web servers. For example you may want to store your html files and dynamic script files at http://www.mysite.com/ while multimedia content such as images, video and audio files at http://media.mysite.com/ This way all request for html pages will go to first sever and requests for media content will go to the second one allowing each server to perform better under high load.

Let’s see how you can employ Amazon S3 as your second server. Amazon S3 offers you unlimited scalability and pay as you go model. You pay only for what actually is stored on your S3 account and pay only for the actual traffic. If the amount of data grows you pay more if it decreases you pay less. Same is with the traffic.

Amazon S3 can also act as a web server serving static content and this is where it comes handy. So instead of ordering another server to store your media content from your hosting provider you can sign-up for Amazon S3 account and move your images and video files there.

How to get Amazon S3 account and CloudBerry Explorer

 

It takes just a couple of minutes to create your own Amazon S3 account. We have a special blog post about it that you can find here

You can download CloudBerry Explorer freeware S3 client here

Copying files

Obviously if you want to serve your media files from Amazon S3 you will have to copy your files to your Amazon S3 account.  This is where you will need a client tool. There are many client tools available out there, but in this post we will talk about CloudBerry Explorer freeware.

Creating a bucket

First you will have to create a bucket that will have the same name as your domain name. for our example we will create a bucket called media.mysite.com,  this will help us to configure a CNAME for the bucket and you will learn more about it later.  Also make sure the name of the bucket is in lowercase – this is a requirement if you want to serve files from your bucket.


Copying files

 

Now you can copy files to your newly created bucket. Just select files on your local disk and click copy button on the toolbar.


 

Configuring access rights

 

To be able to serve your media files to internet users you will have to allow anonymous access to the files. You can do it easily by selecting the bucket and clicking the ACL Editor button in the toolbar.


ACL Editor will come up and you will have to grant “All Users” Read access to the bucket. “All Users” built-in group represents anonymous Internet users.  Make sure the check box “Apply for all subfolders and files” is checked off as it will automatically propagate access rights to all files in the bucket and you won’t have to set them up one by one. 

The ability to apply access rights to all objects in the bucket is one of the advantages of CloudBerry Explorer over other tools.  


Another cool feature is that you don’t have to care about access rights anymore - CloudBerry Explorer will apply bucket’s ACL to any new files copied to the bucket.

Generating URL

 

Now you have everything you need to start serving your files from Amazon S3. The syntax of the URL should conform to the following rule

http://[bucketname].s3.amazonaws.com/[filename]

your files URLs will look like the following

http://media.mysite.com.s3.amazonaws.com/Picture003.jpg

http://media.mysite.com.s3.amazonaws.com/Picture004.jpg

CloudBerry Explorer has an easy way to generate URLs for multiple files. Just select multiple files and click “Web URL” button on the toolbar.


In the dialog box you can see URLs for all your files and you can click Copy to clipboard button to copy them and paste wherever you like.

 


Configuring CNAMEs

 

Would you like to be able to use simpler link to your media files? Something like

http://media.mysite.com /Picture004.jpg

Is that possible? Yes! This is where CNAME comes. I am not going to get into DNS internal but simply speaking CNAME is a way to create a sub domain and refer it to another location. In our case we will refer a domain to Amazon S3 bucket.

All you have to do is to configure appropriate CNAME in your hosting provider control panel. I use 1&1 but every hosting provider offers a way to create CNAMEs and you will just have to find out the details.

To create a CNAME record you will have to specify an alias media and s3.amazonaws.com domain. This is how it looks like in 1&1 control panel:



It usually takes some time for DNS configuration to take effect, so the changes will not be available immediately.

Generating URLs with CNAME

 

Now you can start generating nice URLs using your newly created CNAME. Open the Web URL dialog box that you are already familiar with and type CNAME as indicated on the screen.  You will see that all URLs will be automatically updated to include the CNAME.


 

That’s it. Now you are ready to update your html code with new URLs and improve the scalability of your web server by taking advantage of Amazon S3.

 

Automating upload with PowerShell command line interface

 

If you are wondering how you can automate the process of copying the files to Amazon S3 you can check out CloudBerry Explorer PowerShell command line interface here It can automate most of the tasks available in CloudBerry Explorer GUI.

There is also an open source C# library called Resourceful that you can use to automate date transfer to S3. You can download the library at here

There is a huge number of 3rd party libraries for Amazon S3 available and those two are just examples.

Looking ahead to part 2

In the second part of our article we will look at how you can employ Amazon CloudFront content delivery service to make your files available in multiple locations and how to configure CloudFront using CloudBerry Explorer.

Another area that we will explore is how to reduce your monthly bills by configuring cache-control headers. 

Conclusion

As you could see Amazon S3 offers a great solution for hosting your media content while decreasing the load of your primary web server. There are some obvious advantages including pay as you go model and unlimited scalability. On the other hand CloudBerry Explorer freeware can help copy files to S3 account, configure your files to be accessible by web browser and automate the whole process.


Want to know how much it may cost to host videos on Amazon S3? Check out this blog post 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Alexandra Brown

Marketing Manager at CloudBerry Lab, the company that specialize on tool that makes Cloud Computing adoption easier. CloudBerry Lab is established in 2008 by a group of experienced IT professionals with the mission to help organization in adopting Cloud computing technologies by closing the gap between Cloud vendors propositions and consumer needs through development of innovative low costs solutions.

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