Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront may seem like two identical cloud-based storage products; however, they are actually complementary. CloudFront may have some advantages over S3 if you're willing to pay a little extra.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an online data storage product; admins can upload files to S3 and receive a unique URL for each file. While easy to use and inexpensive, it's not always the fastest for retrieving stored files.
Amazon CloudFront works with S3 but copies files from S3 to the outer "edge" of Amazon's servers, allowing for fast retrieval. My tests show that it retrieves files in about half the time of S3. There's a slight increase in price from Amazon S3, but not much.
CloudFront gives you a unique URL for stored files that not only points to a single copy of your file, but also stores the file redundantly in multiple geographic locations. Amazon's systems point the URL to the closest location based on each client's browser, which can accelerate the downloading experience. CloudFront also includes additional features for fast streaming of audio and video, which makes it an excellent choice for online multimedia companies.
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This was first published in November 2012