Using Amazon S3 for Streaming Large Files

Amazon-S3-logoIf you have tried streaming large files such as selections of music from the server that hosts your website files, you have probably noticed that this slows down your site’s performance.  Pages load slower.  Slow loading tends to reduce traffic to your site.  So you may want to check out Amazon’s S3 service.  S3 charges you not by the month, but only for the elapsed times of your data transfers.  Unless your site gets a huge number of visitors and a large demand for streamed files, your charges from Amazon S3 will be very minimal.  S3 is also a good place to back up your hard drives or your website files.  Many backup applications make it easy to back up to S3 automatically on a regular basis.

Starting to Use S3

Once you open an account at Amazon S3 you will want to create a “bucket.”  A bucket is a large category for organizing your files there.  You can create folders within a bucket.  When you upload a file to S3 it will contain first the bucket name, then the address of S3, then a folder name (if you have stored the file in a folder), then the file name (with suffix.)  Let’s say the name of your bucket is mybucket, and a folder within that bucket is named music, and a music selection you have uploaded to that folder and want to stream is called livelymelody.mp3.  To make a live link to that .mp3 file so that it will play at your website use this address:  http://mybucket.s3.amazonaws.com/music/livemelody.mp3.

Making Your Website Even Snappier Using CloudFront

Since a major reason for using Amazon S3 is to speed up the transmission of website data, you may also want to use a sub-service of S3, called CloudFront.  CloudFront reduces the time it takes for a web file to be transmitted from where it is stored to where it is heard or viewed or otherwise employed by a user. It does this by pre-arranging shortcuts in data routing. When you configure a file using CloudFront, be aware that it will receive a new url, and this url will not be immediately available.  It takes a while for CloudFront to map the fastest routing.  Files optimized by CloudFront are very quick to resolve when users click on their links.  I highly recommend this additional way of speeding up your website’s performance.

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