Replacing Dropbox Pro with Amazon Glacier, and other services

Recently I've started auditing my tech spending to save some money.  One of the things I decided to drop was my subscription to Dropbox Pro, costing me $99/yr for 100 GB.  (really 140, because they double your free-space with a pro account). Here's what I did.

Photos: Amazon S3 Glacier Backup

A big chunk of my data in dropbox was photos: precious memories that must be backed up. Enter Amazon Glacier, a $0.01/GB cloud storage solution that assumes you don't need regular access to your files.  This is perfect for my photos: I want a place to keep them off-site incase my house burns down or is robbed, or my laptop gets smashed.  There is a fee to retrieve your files on Amazon Glacier, and it's not fast, so this is an emergency backup only: not a fancy sharing and syncing service like dropbox or google drive.

Starting out with Amazon Glacier can be a little daunting.  At first appearance it seems like you need a backup client like FastGlacier ($30 Windows)Arq ($40 Mac), or SAGU (Free Windows/Mac).  These are all a bit clunky, and they encrypt your data meaning you must have the app to get your data back. For whatever reason, I prefer to work directly with Amazon and not have to go through a middle man.

Screenshot 2014-07-15 06.50.11
Be sure to set up the rule to archive to Glacier, If you don't storage on s3 is $0.03/GB

It turns out you can upload directly to glacier using Amazon S3's web interface. Head over to, and after setting up your account and logging in, click "Create Bucket." Once your bucket is created, you can set it to archive to Glacier Storage by selecting your bucket, clicking the "Properties" button in the upper right, and heading over to the "Lifecycle" menu. Here we want to "Add rule" and configure it to Archive to Glacier immediately on upload (after 0 days).  Save your rule and you're good to go.

Screenshot 2014-07-15 06.53.39
Setting my Archive Rule

You can now upload files by clicking on your bucket, and clicking the "Actions" menu and then selecting "upload".  This can batch upload whole folders, or individual files.  You can also set up encryption if you want. To save space, I created zip archives of some of my larger photo folders before uploading. I'm not sure how this plays out with pricing when you need to re-download your files after an emergency, so try to keep these somewhat small.

Screenshot 2014-07-15 07.03.06
The uploader actually works really well!

And now your files are securely backed up! I love that this is a secure solution for my photos, and at $0.01/GB, it comes out to be the cheapest option I've found.  I should also note that i've used Amazon S3 in the past to host data for my project website  It has a lot of functionality built into it, and is a totally cool tool.

Music: Google Play Music

My entire music library available from my phone
My entire music library available from my phone

A large portion of my dropbox folder was my music library. This was an easy fix, because Google Play Music will let you upload up to 20,000 songs onto the cloud for free. All you need is the Music Manger, which uploads your songs and allows you to download them if you ever need to recover your files. This is a great solution, because you can also use google play music to stream your library from the internet on any computer, or mobile device.  On my mobile, all I have to do is click a pin button to download a song, album, or playlist to my device for listening without internet access.

Dropbox and Google Drive

There are still some files I need synced between computers, or to share with collaborators.  These are ones that I split between my free space on dropbox and google drive.  Both have their Pros and Cons, and I like Dropbox a bit better...


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  • tdg

    This was very helpful. I was struggling to get SAGU to upload anything. I had a 1GB file take 2 hours.After following your directions here I was able to upload it much faster. I see you're a Dropbox and Google Drive user so this probably won't help you, but gives you 15gb for free plus up to an additional 25gb for referrals, (5gb for each friend). Just saying if anyone is interested.

  • Ermanno Baschiera

    Hi, I don't think Google Music is a backup solution for my music. Files I download from Google Music are not the same I uploaded before. I did a test: I uploaded some Apple Lossless files and I got mp3 as download. That's because Google Music does a match (just like iTunes Match) with music it already has in its archive and if it matches, the upload is skipped.

  • Brian

    Hi Mike, Do you know how to tell when a folder in S3 has been archived to Glacier? I've set-up a couple and they look no different from when I uploaded them a week ago AND they haven't appeared in Glacier, that I can find.

    • Brian,
      If i right click a file, and click properties, i get info about the file. For things backed up to glacier, they look like this.

      • Brian

        Excellent - thanks Mike. I see that in S3 now.

        What about in Glacier? No of the archived files appear/show nor does the Billing Management show any usage of Glacier or charges?

  • MAD

    This is awesome! Thank you. I was trying to figure out how to back some files on my locked down work laptop and this is the perfect work around.

  • David Enzel

    This is really helpful. I thought I had to use a third party app and I did not want to depend on that. I prefer this direct approach. I am uploading now an immediately archiving to S3. Thank you.

  • Robert Shaver

    Maybe prices have changed but I think Google Drive is $0.01/GB/MO with not bandwidth fees while Amazon Glacier is $0.01/GB/MO WITH bandwidth fees. Am I wrong? Did I get a decimal point wrong somewhere?

  • Great idea. And a secured way to protect data. I have more than 30 Sata HD from my small office to backup. Thanks a lot !