Glacier Deep Archive

Back in 2013, Amazon announced its Amazon Glacier storage solution–cloud-based storage that was cheap, but designed for data that would need to be accessed very infrequently.

But even Glacier is expensive for some purposes. For example, I’ve got about 100 terabytes I need to back up, and even at Glacier’s low cost of $4-5/terabyte/month, that would still be ~$500/month. At that price, I might be better off buying a tape drive.

Now, Amazon has announced its Glacier Deep Archive storage solution that is designed to go after use cases like this. At a little over $1/terabyte/month, the costs of storing 100 terabytes in the cloud approaching the cost of tape backup.

There are a few caveats, however. First, it appears that the data stored in Glacier Deep Archive cannot be deleted. I assume that’s Amazon reducing costs by simply not making that feature available.

Second, as with the regular Glacier storage solution, getting data back out of Glacier Deep Archive is likely to be slow and more expensive than storing it. Standard retrieval for data in Glacier is around $12/terabyte. If you need faster retrieval, you can do so by paying more.

I do plan to look closely at Glacier Deep Archive and will likely use it as a sort of backup of last resort. I already have a backup system and process, but $100/month for the volume of data I have is very reasonable for a “if everything else gets screwed up” peace of mind.

Route Around Amazon Kindle’s Ridiculous Limits on Highlights Exporting With Bookcision

While the Amazon Kindle platform has a lot going for it as far as ease of use, it has a number of anti-consumers “features” built into it. One of those are limits that make it difficult/impossible to export highlights you have made of a book.

For example, I can’t even see all of the highlights I’ve made of a book on the Amazon Kindle’s online Notebook area, because after a certain point Amazon starts hiding them from me due to copyright issues: “Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.”

If I try to export those highlights from a Kindle app, I receive an error message like this:

This export will exceed the 15% limit set by the publisher for this book by 21%. New items will not be exporter after the limit is reached.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, Bookcision is a bookmark tool for Chrome that routes around Amazon’s damage to your books. Drag the button to the Chrome bookmark bar, login to the Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader in your browser, click on a book, and then hit the bookmark. A window will pop up that has all of the highlights for that book with the option to copy/paste or download them.

It just works.

How to Get Amazon to Go Easy on the Excessive Packaging for a Change

Apparently the key to getting Amazon to reduce the amount of packing material it includes in packages is to order light bulbs. Light bulbs, it turns out, don’t actually require any additional packaging to avoid damage during transit. Just toss a pack of light bulbs in an empty box and ship away!


Light Bulbs from Amazon

Amazon Glacier

Amazon Glacier is the cheaper, slower cousin to Amazon’s S3 storage. Whereas S3 currently costs US$0.095 per gigabyte per month, Glacier is a mere US$0.01 per gigabyte per month.

The tradeoff for the lower cost is that Glacier is effectively offline storage. If you want to download the data you have stored, you have to request that Glacier retrieve the data and make it available for download, and fulfilling that requests “typically” takes 3-5 hours according to Amazon.

Since the expectation is that Glacier data will only be accessed infrequently, there is also a US$0.12 per gigabyte charge to download more than a nominal 1 gigabyte per month.

So, storing 1 terabyte of data with Glacier will cost you roughly $10/month, but if you ever want to download it all in a month, that would run you $120.

Where something like Glacier shines is in long-term backups. For example, I have a 3 terabyte drive that stores all of my personal data. I have a couple of extra hard disks that I use to create local backups and store at various locations.

I used to use Amazon’s S3 as an online backup repository, but as I got closer to having 1 terabyte stored there, the cost became prohibitive and I ended up deleting it. But using something like Glacier, I could store 3 terabytes online for $30/month. The limitations on accessing the data really don’t concern me, since what I’m looking for is an offsite repository to store my data in case I experience a catastrophic failure with my local backups.

There are just two challenges: uploading the data to Glacier and protecting it adequately.

I’m primarily a Windows users, and have had a lot of success with FastGlacier, a freeware Windows tool designed to make it easier to upload data to Glacier and keep Glacier and local data in sync.

Glacier has a number of complications that S3 does not, and a program like FastGlacier helps smooth out some of the rough edges for those of us who just want to get our data into Glacier.

Protecting that data is another matter. Amazon encrypts the data that is uploaded to Glacier, but it is encrypted in a way that Amazon itself can decrypt. So if Amazon were hacked, for example, there is the potential that the keys to unlocking any data stored on Glacier (or S3) could be compromised.

It is absolutely crucial that any data intended for long-term storage be encrypted client-side by the person doing the uploading. Again, since I am primarily a Windows user I use the open source Gpg4Win to encrypt all of my files before I upload them to Glacier. Gpg4Win adds a GpgEX option in the file manager’s context menu so that it is relatively easy to encrypt specific files or entire directories.

Amazon Buys Goodreads

Ugh — so Goodreads has sold out to Amazon. I can’t blame them for that, although I can blame them for titling their announcement of the sale with “We’re Joining the Amazon Family!” I immediately see visions of Tom Hanks from “That Thing You Do” welcoming Goodreads to the Playtone Galaxy of Stars.

Anyway, according to the press release/blog post about the acquisition from GoodReads, basically this will allow Goodreads to directly integrate with the Kindle (barf) as if Amazon’s constant attempts to upsell Kindle users books wasn’t already extensive enough. But, promises Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler,

It’s important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away. Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community that we all cherish. We plan to continue offering you everything that you love about the site—the ability to track what you read, discover great books, discuss and share them with fellow book lovers, and connect directly with your favorite authors—and your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads. And it’s incredibly important to us that we remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets.

I certainly hope so as I don’t look forward to having to re-enter all of my book information into some other service 6 months from now. Please, please, please, Amazon, don’t pull a Google Reader on Goodreads fans.