Object Storage Classes – Amazon S3 vs S3 Glacier

Amazon S3 and S3 Glacier are two popular choices of cloud storage solutions. But what's the difference, and when should you use one over the other?


By Crystal / Updated on April 30, 2024

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What is Amazon S3

Amazon S3, or Amazon Simple Storage Service, is a highly scalable and reliable object storage service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It allows individuals and businesses to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Designed with flexibility in mind, Amazon S3 can be used for a wide range of applications, from hosting static websites to storing big data for analytics and machine learning.

Amazon S3 operates by storing data as "objects," which can be files, images, videos, backups, or any other type of digital data. Each object is stored in a "bucket," which is a container that holds objects. These buckets have unique names and can be configured with specific permissions, security settings, and lifecycle policies.

Amazon S3

What is Amazon Glacier

Amazon Glacier is designed for long-term data archiving and backup. Unlike traditional storage solutions that prioritize quick access, Glacier is engineered for data that doesn't need to be retrieved frequently, making it an ideal choice for organizations looking to store large volumes of data at a lower cost.

Amazon Glacier operates by storing data across multiple, highly durable data centers. This redundancy ensures that even in the event of a hardware failure or a data center outage, your data remains intact and accessible, though retrieval times can vary depending on the retrieval method chosen.

Glacier uses advanced encryption to secure data, both at rest and in transit, offering a high level of security for sensitive information.

Amazon Glacier

Amazon S3 vs Amazon S3 Glacier

The primary difference between Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3 is the intended use case. Glacier is focused on archival storage, with longer retrieval times but lower costs. S3, in contrast, is designed for quick access and real-time data processing. The choice between the two depends on the speed at which you need to retrieve your data and the budget for storage.

Comparison Table for the differences between Amazon S3 and S3 Glacier


Amazon Glacier

Amazon S3


Long-term archival storage

High-availability storage

Retrieval Time

Several hours to days

Immediate to a few seconds


Lower for storage, higher for retrieval

Higher for storage, lower for retrieval

Data Retention

Ideal for compliance and backups

Ideal for real-time applications


Works with lifecycle policies from S3

Integrates with a wide range of AWS services

Can I Integrate Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3

One of the most effective ways to use these two services together is by implementing lifecycle policies. This allows you to automatically move data between Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier based on specific criteria, like data age or storage class transitions.

Benefits of Using Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3 Together

🔰 Cost Savings: Storing data in Glacier is significantly cheaper than in S3. Using lifecycle policies to move infrequently accessed data to Glacier can result in substantial cost savings.

🔰 Data Retention: Combining S3 and Glacier allows you to retain data for compliance and archival purposes while keeping frequently accessed data readily available.

🔰 Scalability: Both S3 and Glacier offer scalable storage solutions, allowing you to manage large volumes of data without worrying about hardware limitations.


Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3 cater to different storage needs. Glacier is best for long-term archiving and data that doesn't require quick retrieval. S3 is more suitable for data that needs to be readily accessible. Understanding the unique benefits of each service allows you to make informed decisions about your cloud storage strategy.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.