ElephantDrive vs Amazon S3

How a company chooses to store, manage and recall its data helps determine its ability to succeed in the midst of competition. But data that becomes lost or corrupted is of no use to your business. Instead, loss or improper management could catalyze irreversible harm to your company. A successful business must employ a solid cloud storage solution. However, choosing a good cloud storage option is more than just finding a repository for all of your company’s data. You also need a solution that is safe, accessible, and cost-effective. ElephantDrive and Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Solution) are two such options that offer users a wide range of options that can help them manage their company’s data as best as possible.

Overview

ElephantDrive

ElephantDrive offers users an easy way to back up their files. Whether used as a personal account or to backup files crucial to a business’s existence, ElephantDrive helps provide a safe, automatic backup option that can protect business from data loss common with drive failures, ransomware attacks and natural disasters. Apart from file-synchronization, ElephantDrive also comes with a number of tools for managing data and allowing users to share and send files.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is an object storage and retrieval service that emphasizes Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Amazon S3 is designed to help companies store any amount of data, making it accessible when necessary. The service is intended to be reliable, scalable and cost-effective. Amazon S3 allows users to choose the region where their data will be saved and also employs a bucket system that allows users to group uploaded data.

Ease of Use

Upon installation, ElephantDrive users are invited to choose which of their folders they would like to back up. Desktop, Pictures and Music folders are selected by default. The program also allows users to back up their Documents folder easily. However, choices are not limited to these four folders and users can select additional folders for backup by simply navigating to and selecting the folders in question.

Amazon S3 seems less focused on the individual user trying to back up his data. This is enterprise-level software. Despite this, (or perhaps because of it) one of the criticisms leveled against the service is that it can be difficult to use for anyone not possessing IT credentials. For starters, Amazon S3 does not furnish customers with an attractive user interface (UI) common with other data storage companies. Instead, users have access to a webpage that displays the files stored in each bucket. To upload files to the server, companies must have at their disposal an IT professional capable of using the company’s command line tools. In lieu of this, companies can opt to purchase their subscriptions from a third-party seller that will offer tools to help wrangle desktop functionality

Recovery

ElephantDrive helps safeguard customers by offering redundancy for files in danger of accidental deletion. These “archived” files can be kept indefinitely for an extra fee. ElephantDrive can also save several versions of the same file on its server. How many versions of a particular file are kept and how long they are preserved can be determined by the user.

Similarly, with Amazon S3 there is little concern about losing data since the service automatically makes copies of your objects that are available on multiple devices and are spread out across multiple facilities. S3 copies your data across three availability zones (S3 Standard for general purpose storage of active data; S3 Standard Infrequent Access for less in-demand data; and Amazon Glacier for long-term archiving of your data). Customers will then be able to restore every version of every object they have uploaded to Amazon S3. Users can also choose to use S3’s Object Lock tool which can help prevent accidental deletion.

File Sharing & Collaboration

ElephantDrive allows for easy file-sharing although this seems geared largely towards those who use ElephantDrive for personal use. You can share folders with friends and colleagues in either of two ways. (1) Files are shared in the Everywhere folder and recipients must have ElephantDrive installed on their devices. (2) Users can create a URL in the website application. If necessary, the user can protect the URL with a password. Edits made to any file are synchronized across all instances.

On the other hand, file-sharing capabilities offered by Amazon S3 are geared more towards business applications and far less for personal use as is the case with ElephantDrive. S3 offers cross-AWS support meaning that it allows you to share the contents of a bucket with the holder of another S3 account. Users can also share files using the object URL, once public access is activated on that particular bucket and once public access is granted to that particular file. Once permissions are granted and external sharing is enabled, users are able to collaborate with external users.

Business Applications

Amazon S3 seems to be geared entirely for business. Users can integrate events on an S3 bucket with AWS services like SNS, SQS, Lamda for powerful event-driven applications. You can choose what kind of events are broadcast.

ElephantDrive works well with a number of NAS platforms, allowing you to upload important data seamlessly. To help with this, it comes pre-installed on a number of storage platforms such as Austor, DLink, Drobo, and Netgear.

Security

ElephantDrive takes business customers and their security needs seriously. Thus, the makers of the app have also beefed it up with tight security protocols. Guiding their security policy are their philosophies of “Least Privilege” and “Economy of Mechanism”. In a mission to make the program inaccessible to hackers, they have closed every unnecessary port. Files transfers are also encrypted to and from your computer using a 128-bit SSL channel. Lastly, an AES protocol and a 256-bit key help keep your files safe on your computer.

Amazon S3 offers enterprise-grade security. For one, the service employs the use of a sophisticated key service known as the Key Management Service (KMS) that creates and protects encryption keys used for data retrieval. With this encryption key management, Amazon S3 ensures that no one will have unauthorized access to your data. However, a double-edged sword exists since losing your key also means losing access to your data.

Apart from this, Amazon uses the strongest encryption methods available. It also complies with ISO 27001, along with SOC1, SOC2 and SOC3 for data centers.

Amazon also lets users toggle access management policies helping them decide who can access your data. You can also upload your data knowing you have the benefit of SSL encrypted endpoints.

Lastly, public access to your data is blocked by default and sharing files requires greenlighting of those specific files.

Cost

To see if ElephantDrive is a good fit, you can utilize its 30-day free trial offer. Users can opt to stick with a free 2 GB plan or upgrade to either of the company’s three paid packages. A $10/month Home plan comes with 15,000 GB of storage while the $20/month Business plan increases your storage capacity to 50,000 GB. On the highest end of the scale, ElephantDrive also offers an Enterprise plan for $30/month that places no limits on your data uploads.

On the other hand, critics have called Amazon S3’s pricing structure somewhat confusing. Amazon’s wish is for customers to pay only for what they need. There are no setup costs and Amazon has adopted a more flexible pricing structure. S3 also allows the user to adjust the lifecycle policies for their data that will help distribute it across the three aforementioned storage classes. This helps you save money on cheaper storage as your data declines in activity. Once set, your data will automatically migrate to the most appropriate storage class, thereby incurring savings. The cost for the S3 service begins at $.023 per gigabyte (GB) per month for 50 terabytes (TB) of data. However, users stand to pay less per gigabyte as their storage use increases. There is no limit to how much data you can store with Amazon S3. Additionally, with Amazon’s different storage solutions, varying speeds of data retrieval help dictate the cost. Thus, If your data is such that you need faster access to it, this will necessitate a pricier storage solution with low latency and high-throughput access. If your data requires infrequent retrieval, Amazon’s Glacial service might be a better fit. You only pay for the storage you actually use. However, transferring data into your bucket is free. Amazon does offer a free tier that offers 5GB of data, but this is more suited to experimentation and exploration than a permanent solution for any business.

Lastly, Cloudwatch request metrics built into S3 gives you summary statistics on all your files that are accessed. This will allow you to discover where S3 is costing you the most and how you may reduce costs.

Conclusion

Both ElephantDrive and Amazon S3 present an array of tools that seek to help the user save and make good use of their data. However, it is clear that, for the casual user, ElephantDrive, with it’s user-friendly controls, is a much better option.

Even though the cost of Amazon S3 may at first appear nebulous, for Business and Power users,  Amazon S3 is a far better option. This is especially true for those businesses trying to avoid spending too much since they don’t have to commit to a plan that may prove too much or too little for their needs. S3 is a cheap and reliable option.

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