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Better Backups with JetS3t

JetS3t is a better way to do online backups via Amazon.com's S3 service -- providing cheap online storage on Amazon’s redundant servers.

Several months ago, we covered Jungle Disk, a graphical interface to Amazon’ s Simple Storage Service (S3). However, things move fast in the computer world, and there’s now a new S3 program in town: JetS3t.

S3 is an Amazon service that provides cheap online storage on Amazon’s redundant servers. How cheap is cheap? A measly $0.15 per gigabyte per month of storage used, and $0.20 per gigabyte of data transferred per month. In other words, if you store 2 GB of files, and transfer all of that in a month, you’re paying $0.30 for storage and $0.40 for transfer. If you store 250 MB of stuff, and transfer 1 GB in a month, you’re looking at $0.04 for storage and $0.20 for transfer.

S3 has other nice features to S3 as well. Stored objects can be as small as one byte and as large as five gigabytes. Each object has a unique key for reference, and you can make objects private or public at will. Everything is available using HTTP, but you can also use BitTorrent.



Amazon doesn’t provide an application to access S3; instead, Amazon supplies well-documented programmatic interfaces (see http://aws.amazon.com/s3), which developers can use to build clever solutions. The best software to manage S3 data is JetS3t, an open source project released under the Apache License.

Originally a hobbyist project, JetS3t has grown into such a useful, powerful suite of tools that it is now hosted on Amazon’s site, and can be thought of as a semi-official package. Before you can use JetS3t, however, browse to http://aws.amazon.com/s3, click on the orange button labeled Sign Up For Web Service, fill out the forms, and follow the directions you’re given. JetS3t relies on Java to work, so you’ll need the latest JRE on your system.

To download JetS3t, head to http://jets3t.s3.amazonaws.com, click on Downloads, and download the ZIP file containing the program. Currently, JetS3t is at version 0.5.0 and is contained in the 8.7 MB file named jets3t-0.5.0.zip. Unzip jets3t-0.5.0.zip, rename the resultant directory to something smart like jets3t, and move the directory somewhere appropriate on your machine, such as ~/bin. Assuming you use ~/bin, the executables to run can be found in ~/bin/jets3t/bin/ (be sure to add that to your PATH) and are named cockpit.sh and syncronize.sh. Make sure the two shell scripts are executable by running chmod 744~/bin/jets3t/bin/*.

Next, you must set an environment variable or JetS3t may not run. In your shell startup file (say, ~/.bashrc, if you use the Bourne Shell), add the lines:

#
# set environment variables for
# JetS3t (Amazon S3 backup program)
#
export JETS3T_HOME=$HOME/bin/jets3t

Run source.bashrc and finally it’s time to back up some files!

You should now be able to type cockpit in your terminal to launch the program. When you first open cockpit, the Cockpit Login window appears. You can go directly to the Direct Login tab, enter your AWS Access Key and your AWS Secret Key, press the Log in button, and start using the application, but there’s a better method that’ll save you a ton of tedium in the future.

To store your credentials, choose the Local Folder tab in the Cockpit Login window, select Store on the dropdown next to” Would you like to log in or store your credentials?”, pick a folder to persist your login info (don’t worry — credentials are encrypted), enter a password to safeguard your login files, and then enter your Access Key and Secret Key. The next time you open cockpit, select your stored login’s nickname, and press Log in.

So how do you use cockpit and synchronize? Come back next month to find out. Until then, happy storage!

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