Starting a substantial project. There will be 100s of images on the site. Few are part of the general design, but there are slide carousels, photos, etc.

I understand what S3 is, but I'm wondering what the specific value is of using it over local storage. There is plenty of room on the web host's server.

S3 isn't a CDN, right? Or will it replicate files across to other locations?

Should I expect S3 to be faster than local storage? And is my S3 bucket backed up elsewhere, should Amazon's servers crash?


1 Answer 1


S3 is not itself a CDN, no. However, you can use Cloudflare as a free and very easy to set up CDN service in front of it.

For me the main advantages of S3 are that it's a centralised repository of assets I can point all my environments to (so dev, staging, production all point to the same S3 and thus have identical assets available to them with no need to sync anything). I trust Amazon to runs servers more than I do individual other companies, simply by virtue of their size and experience (and I know some of the engineers as well - they're smart people!).

With Cloudflare in front of S3, you get CDN and static asset caching benefits, and images are served very quickly.

  • Also if you need to move your site to a new server quickly for whatever reason or emergency; having all your images on S3, separate from your site makes the process much smoother since you don't have to move them also. Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 7:29
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    Be very careful sharing a single S3 bucket across environments - actions in dev/staging can result in files being moved around or deleted in production! Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 11:23
  • Well yes, that's the point :) the idea is to keep them deliberately in sync. (Our dev is for us, I guess with clients you might approach differently but even there generally working with one asset pool makes a lot of sense I'd think?) Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 11:27
  • @JeremyDaalder - I like the Cloudflare + S3 idea a lot. Is there anything special I have to do to make them play nice together? Cloudflare setup looks super simple, and I've setup S3 before.
    – 4midori
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 16:46
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    No it's pretty simpler really. Only real gotcha is you can't use cname records with your s3 bucket for nicer names as you'd need a legit SSL on the S3 bucket (which means cloudfront at $600/mth I believe!) - so you either have to use 'flexible ssl' on cloudflare (which seems a bit of a con) or stick with the default non cnamed URLs for your files and use strict ssl on cloudflare (and legit certs on all your servers obviously). basically so long as you cn live with non pretty urls for static assets, it's all super easy. Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 23:17

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