You, as a web developer, may very well be aware of Amazon’s Web Services for hosting web sites and services. Depending on your skill level, some of what Amazon has to offer may seem daunting or out of reach. I’m here today to give you an idea of some rather novel uses of AWS that require a minimal skill level to attain. This can range from hosting files to hosting a complete site merely by dropping files into your AWS account. The best part is that most of what I will go over will be covered in Amazon’s free tier of service, meaning the service will be entirely free for the first year.

First you will need to create your AWS account which can be done here. From there you will want to go into your console, which can be accessed at the same page once you have an account. There is a wide variety of services whose uses range from deploying virtual servers, managing DNS, to deploying entire virtual networks of machines. We are just going to focus mainly on Amazon’s S3 service here which is used for scalable cloud storage, so you may ignore the plethora of other offerings for the time being.

Once you have made it to your S3 console there will be a button that says “Create Bucket”. S3 buckets are essentially places for you to store various files. Once you create a bucket you can store all sorts of files there with the ability to make them public or private. We will go ahead and create a bucket and give it a name that makes sense (this will be part of the URL at which you access these files).  Do not worry about logging, I will not cover this but you will want to look into AWS Cloudwatch to manage logging and the availability of these files.

Being developer you may be wondering what use you will have for yet another cloud storage service, but since AWS is publicly accessible at and essentially static domain (or even your own domain name, which I will cover briefly in a moment) you can use S3 to access files in other websites you are creating or maintaining. To do this we will want right click the bucket we created and click the website tab. Click “Enabled” and for the Index document, type in “index.html” and for the Error document type in “error.html”. If you are looking to host a website here in S3, you will want to actually create and upload these files, but if you are just looking to host files, they do not necessarily have to exist. Also, take not of the endpoint, this is now the link to your site or the domain prefix for the files you host. Next you will want to upload files which you would like to host, then once they appear as files in your bucket, right click the files and choose “Make Public”. They are now accesible via the browser or from other sites at amazon-endpoint-domain/your-file-name. If you would like to make this a site on its own with a domain name you own, you will need to make a DNS CNAME record pointing to your S3 buckets domain name. You can find out how to do this by contacting your current host or registrar.

What you can do now is create webpages or Javascript libraries or files of your own using Dreamweaver and host them at your new Amazon S3 site. This is great for hosting a static website (no php or server side languages, just html, css, and javascript) or even as a CDN. CDN’s or content delivery networks are a common place to hold libraries of scripts in a single place. Giving you access to your scripts on multiple sites and aiding in cacheing these scripts for your end users.