Thursday, 5 May 2011

Using Amazon’s S3 Service For Static File Serving

A number of our users have asked if it’s possible to link to single files directly from their Kimtag page. For example, pdf brochures, product leaflets or CV documents. We don’t currently offer a file hosting service but we’ve written some instructions/help here to give you some pointer on how you may want to do this.

Before doing this, we had a look at a number of file serving products. There are a number of completely free services on the market but, having tested a few, we feel that for business or even CV download requirements, you might be better off paying a small amount.

Some of our users have had some satisfaction with MediaFire (http://www.mediafire.com), but you really need to use their MediaPro paid service rather than the free service. MediaPro starts at around USD9.00 per month. Note that there have been comments that the free service can result in deleted files which isn’t ideal. It’s easy to use though and with the paid services you can get direct links to files which you can then add to your Kimtag connections page using a Custom Link connection.

Our recommendation would be to use Amazon’s S3 service. At the moment, unless you are a high volume user, you’ll get the first year for free and then you pay as you go from then on. At the time of writing this free allowance was 5Gb of storage space, 20,000 file requests and 15Gb of data transfer. Even after the first year, unless you are a high volume user, the cost of downloading and storing your average pdf or Word doc is likely to be only a few dollars per month. Obviously, we advise that you do a little math to check potential costs before using the service (pricing : http://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/). However, this seems one of the best value options on the market to us, so here’s a really simple how you do it.

1. Open an Amazon AWS Cloud account
If you’ve already got an Amazon account for buying things from their store, then you can use that. Otherwise, you’ll need to have your credit card to hand – even though you should get the first year free. Visit http://aws.amazon.com and click sign-up. Follow the steps until you get through to the Amazon Management Console, then click on the ‘S3’ tab.

2. Creating a bucket
Your bucket is where you’ll store your files. Click on the ‘create bucket’ button and give your bucket a unique name, for example ‘Kimtag_Files’. Keep location as default US standard. For most users this is going to be the quickest and most cost effective. Click ‘create’.

3. Uploading Files
You might find that it messes about for a bit while it’s creating your bucket. Just wait until it says it’s ready with a message of ‘The bucket is empty’ or similar. Then click on the ‘upload’ button, then ‘add files’ and find your file that you want to share. Then click ‘start upload’.

4. Setting Permissions
For this example, we are going to allow anyone to download this file. Amazon’s S3 service allows a range of different permission options but this is probably what you want for Kimtag. Click on the file once to highlight it and then click on the ‘properties’ button. You should see properties for the file at the bottom of the page. Click on the ‘permissions’ tab and then ‘add more permissions’. Select ‘Everyone’ from the drop down box and then check ‘open/download’ only. Then click ‘save’.

5. Getting the link
Click on the ‘details’ tab and copy the link that you see there. Then copy that link exactly and enter it into a Custom Link connection on your connections page remembering to change the Connection Title to reflect your file. Also remember to test the link when it’s all set up to make sure it’s doing what you want.

Amazon provide a range of help and support files if you want to do different things. We also, again, recommend that you double check the pricing against how many files and the size of the files you are offering for download.

Note. We will be adding a ‘Custom File’ connection shortly but for now we’d say that ‘Custom Link’ is the best connection. Custom Links can be AutoConnected (instantly linked via QR Codes etc) however, we’d generally recommend that you do not use AutoConnect with a Custom Link to a file as it may produce unpredictable or unreliable behaviour, especially on mobiles.