I’m beginning to see all kinds of innovative uses of Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) pop up around the net, and here’s a neat one that I’m going to try myself. The problems that Matt Thommes is trying to solve around his iTunes music are the same problems I’ve been grappling with myself.
There are three things I wish to accomplish:
1. Eliminate the limit on my music storage capacity.
2. Access my music from anywhere in the world.
3. Access my music directly from iTunes on my laptop - not with an iPod or external digital music device.
I’m a big fan of iTunes, and when I made the leap (and the significant effort) of ripping my music library and beginning to use iTunes as my primary interface for finding, selecting, and listening to my music, I’ve never looked back. It’s just such a more powerful and flexible method for accessing and enjoying a large library of music than dealing with hundreds or thousands of individual pieces of media. (I’m not however an equally big fan of the iTunes Music Store and the associated DRM, but I’ll save that rant for another post).
Matt describes a method for storing your iTunes library on Amazon’s S3 service, effectively solving all three of the stated problems. It looks easy to set up, though the cost is not insignificant. At Amazon’s plan of
100 GB of storage plus 1 TB of transfer for $6.29/month (on a 1 year contract), I’ll spend around $75/year for this service See Updates below. But it may very well be worth it. I’ll report back on my experiences.
Update: As Chris points out in the comments, I grabbed the wrong pricing info for S3 from a hastily read comment to Matt’s original post, that pricing was actually for a cheaper online storage alternative from GoDaddy. Amazon’s S3 pricing structure is a pay-as-you-go scheme costing $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used and $0.20 per GB of data transferred. This makes it tough to predict what the actual costs of hosting my iTunes library would be there, since it’s dependent on how much I listen to it. But clearly, it would end up being a lot more than $75/year for a 100GB library that gets used regularly. Thanks, Chris!
Update 2: After reflecting on the comments here and having a couple of conversations with people much smarter than myself on these matters, I’ve come to the conclusion that this really isn’t a practical idea for two important reasons. First, the chances seem very slim that the performance would be acceptable, and several people who have tried managing large iTunes libraries over the internet have reported to me that iTunes hasn’t performed well in this scenario. Second, S3’s pay-as-you-go data transfer plan, while very attractive for some types of applications, isn’t really a good option for using S3 as a remote hard drive that you’d be accessing quite regularly. I’d be willing to consider a reasonable flat fee for this kind of convenience (assuming it worked well), but the idea of having to think about how much it is costing me to listen to my music, and having that cost be variable and dependent on how much I listen to, has dampened my enthusiasm for this idea. So I guess I’m blushingly reneging on my promise to set this up and report back.