Aperture Vault on Amazon S3

Update: This method was originally done in 2009. Things happen, new technologies come out or get better, etc. In the current world I would not backup using Jungle Disk as a network drive since it is very slow. Especially since it freezes up the aperture while writing to the vault. Instead I would do a normal vault to a backup drive and point a backup utility, such as Arq at that backup drive's vault. This would make it non-blocking for the write to the vault and it doesn't need anything special since you should have made a local vault anyways.

The following is the original article for posterity's sake:

As I amass more photos I get squeamish. Photos are some of the most valuable data on my computer besides the code I write. My code generally isn't a big worry because it is being versioned and usually exists in several working copies so the risk of loss is smaller. With photos I have at best have a dvd backup of the originals along with a time machine backup. But if my apartment and computer goes up in smoke? It's all gone.

With the wonderful advances in the cloud I decided to see what it could do for me. After doing a little searching I found a post or two about it and I decided to try it out myself.

To use Amazon's S3 for the vault I need to have it be mounted as a drive. I chose to use a product called Jungle Disk to mount and manage my S3 account. Jungle Disk has clients for all the operating systems and a version for portable drives that has all three clients.

Once I had setup a bucket with Jungle Disk I was ready to create my vault with Aperture. The way that Aperture is programmed it won't allow you to directly setup the vault on a network drive. To get around that I create the vault onto the desktop. Once the vault is created you will notice that it has the locked symbol next to it. I closed Aperture and removed the locked status from the file. Then I moved the vault onto the S3 drive.

I had about 35GB library of photos when I created the vault. Since this is all going over the internet it is going to take a while for all the files to copy over, which is to be expected. I was luckly on a university connection so the wait wasn't as long as it was for some.

After the files all successfully copied over to the S3 account load up Aperture. Right click on the vault that was just created and select the Update Vault Path... From there you should be able to browse to your S3 network drive and select your vault.

When I had taken some more pictures and went to update the vault I found the big reason that I probably would not use the S3 for anything but periodic (quarterly or semi-annually) backups. When I updated the vault it seemed to want to touch and/or copy every file. If you are on a local drive this wouldn't be much of a problem, but since you are doing this over the internet it seemed to take about as long as the original move of the library. It might not have taken as long since I just left it working overnight I didn't know for sure.

Just remember, if you do plan on using the S3 for aperture not only are you paying for the space, which is very inexpensive, but you are also paying for each request for a file so it does add a few dollars each time you do a vault update. Overall I would still use it as a periodic off-site backup but would not rely upon it for my day-to-day backups.

Posted on 24 Jan 2009