How I back up all my photos on S3 via Dropbox

28 August 2014   4 comments   Photos

Mind That Age!

This blog post is 4 years old! Most likely, its content is outdated. Especially if it's technical.

First of all, Dropbox is awesome. When I plug in my iPhone to my laptop it automatically backs up all my photos to Dropbox fastly and conveniently. If I want to share a photo or a movie I can easily get a "Share link" to show friends and family.

The only disadvantage with Dropbox is that you only get 5Gb for free. Upgrading to the 100Gb Pro account is $10 per month. Not a massive amount but my inner geek uses that as an excuse to hack around it.

So, what I do is set up a S3 bucket. Let's call it camera-uploads-peterbe and then I use s3cmd to upload all the pictures by month. Like this:

$ cd Dropbox/Camera\ Uploads/
$ s3cmd put --reduced-redundancy 2014-01-* s3://camera-uploads-peterbe/2014/
$ rm 2014-01-*

I'm sure that by writing this here, people will write comments saying much better ways to do properly offside backups and I'm eager to hear that but for me S3 feels great. It's tools I'm very familiar with. It's a very established and mature business so it's unlikely to go away any time soon. It's secure and it's incredibly cheap because there's virtually no transfer of these files.

Also, I like how it's clearly explicit and simple. I don't have to worry about some obscure background app not working properly and me not noticing.

Let's see what the future holds. At the moment I'm just worrying about storing the files but it's a bit clunky to retrieve individual files.


For $99 per year I now get 1TB of space on Dropbox.

Also, the reason I discovered that way because s3cmd stopped working with these strange [Errno 32] Broken pipe errors. Lots of others have suffered from this too. I verified my access key and secret but didn't feel like spending too much time trying to understand explicit policies on S3 puts.

Yay! Dropbox!


Charl Botha

I would not want to sideline your inner geek in any way, but 4 days ago dropbox change their offering. :) You now get 1 TB for your $10:

(I actually don't use dropbox (well, besides for transient file exchanging) or s3 due to privacy concerns.)

Peter Bengtsson

Hmm... that's interesting. 1 TB is 10 times more for the same price. Perhaps by the time I fill up 1 TB they will increase it to 10 TB.

Eamon Walshe

You should not use the --reduced-redundancy flag if you are using S3 as a backup service. Amazon recommends using reduced redundancy for objects that can be recreated such as thumbnails or reports. The saving is not worth the risk if you are backing up photographs. You save only $0.006/GB/month.

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