Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cost of Amazon s3 vs Apple's MobileMe

I have been using Apple's MobileMe as a backup solution for a while and was wondering if Amazon S3 would work out cheaper than MobileMe. With Firefox extension such as S3Fox it is equally easy to use Amazon s3 for backup.

MobileMe costs $99/year for 20GB storage and 200GB of data transfer per month. Using the Amazon Calculator, I entered the following numbers:

  • Storage: 20 GB-months, i.e., using the full storage of 20GB per month
  • Data transfer in: 100GB/month, and Data transfer out: 100 GB/month. This is assuming my data transfer is equally used between input and output. This is usually not the case but let's assume it for simplicity in calculation.

The Amazon S3 cost comes to $3 for storage/month and $27 for data-transfer/month, for a grand total of $30/month, or $360/year, a whopping 3.6 times more than MobileMe.

More than the storage, it is the data-transfer costs that add up at Amazon. So if you were to go easy on the data-transfer (a typical use case when used as a backup), then the costs will come down.

What is the break even point? After tweaking the numbers, I found that if you store approximately 20GB/month and your data transfer is approximately 40GB/month (in and out included), then the price of Amazon s3 and Apple's MobileMe are the same. Beyond this, MobileMe is a better value.

In other words, Amazon S3 is a better value if you are mainly interested in using it as a storage device and data-transfer is small. On the other hand, if your data-transfer needs are high (e.g., as in hosting a popular video), MobileMe is better value.

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