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Send Files via Amazon S3 and Email

Frequently we have to send large files to people (for example, beta versions of Interarchy), and it is not practical or desirable to send large (larger than say 1Meg) files to people via email. Typically I have used YouSendIt.com for this purpose, and indeed there are over fifty such services available.

But it is not really desirable to store private files on a third-party web server, most of these services have to figure out how to make money which means either subscriptions or advertising, and I would never give a third-party web site someone else‘s email address (I always use my own email address and then manually forward the link).

But recently I‘ve developed a better way, by writing an AppleScript droplet that uploads the file to a bucket on Amazon S3, using a randomly generated directory name as a “password”, and displaying the resulting HTTP URL at the end so I can email the link to the recipient.

The result is that while I pay a few cents (actually approximately half a cent for a 10Meg file that is uploaded, downloaded once, and deleted after a month), there are essentially no limits - I can keep it as long as I want, it can be downloaded as many times as needed (costing 0.2 cents for each 10Meg download), I can have as many files as I want, and using a CNAME (see this article for details) I can even make the files appear to be on a site I control, like files.stairways.com.

So I cleaned up the AppleScript a bit to make it nice a general and easy to configure, and made it available for download. You will need an Amazon S3 account, and Interarchy, and need to create a bucket (top level unique directory name, optionally which is a domain name that is a CNAME to s3.amazonaws.com), and then double click Sender to configure it, and then drop a file on it to upload the file and display the URL). You will want to periodically use Interarchy to display the directory and clear out old files (otherwise you‘ll be paying 0.2c per month for every 10Meg you have stored, and that could mount up, well, probably quite slowly really).

Posted Monday, August 21, 2006. Permalink. 7 Comments.

Comments

Thanks a lot for the script. Very cool indeed :-)

Corentin

Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2006 06:13 AM by Corentin.

But what is the advantage of using this over your own web space that you are already paying for? You can as well use 'files.stairways.com' without the S3, store it there, let the user downloads it, and delete it after the month...

Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 03:37 AM by Anonymous.

The advantage is in the scaling - most hosting websites have limited monthly bandwidth, and when that is exceeded either your site goes off the air, or is throttled badly making it unpleasant to use, or costs a very large amount (since excess bandwidth charges are usually quite steep).

Amazon S3 will scale regardless of your use. Mind you, currently there is no way to limit your costs or even learn that your costs are getting out of control, which is a feature that will probably soon be implemented by Amazon.

Posted Monday, August 28, 2006 02:13 AM by Peter N Lewis.

Looks like they added the ability to lookup your costs now.

When I go to Amazon S3 and hover on the Your Web Services account button one of the options is Account Activity. When I click on that I can see I've uploaded .7 GB and used .023 GB months for a total cost of $.16.

Posted Thursday, September 7, 2006 06:18 PM by Anonymous.

How do you make sure the files you post to amazon s3 are not publicly readable. Can Interarchy change the file permissions?

Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 05:35 PM by Anonymous.

Interesting.

And what about using google gmail?

Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 03:10 AM by Dmitry.

There are some similar services on WEB, not half bad and free, if only you don't need special options.

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