What Is Amazon Glacier?

Amazon Glacier is another cloud storage service related to Amazon S3, but optimized for data archiving and long-term backup at extremely low cost. Amazon Glacier is a storage service optimized for infrequently used data. Amazon Glacier is suitable for “cold data,” which is data that is rarely accessed and for which a retrieval time of three to five hours is acceptable.

Amazon Glacier is an extremely low-cost storage service that provides durable storage with security features for data archiving and backup. With Amazon Glacier, customers can store their data cost effectively for months, years, or even decades.

Amazon Glacier enables customers to offload the administrative burdens of operating and scaling storage to AWS, so they don’t have to worry about capacity planning, hardware provisioning, data replication, hardware failure detection and recovery, or time-consuming hardware migrations.

Amazon Glacier Data Model

The Amazon Glacier data model core concepts include vaults and archives. Amazon Glacier is a REST-based web service. In terms of REST, vaults and archives are the resources. In addition, the Amazon Glacier data model includes job and notification-configuration resources. These resources complement the core resources.

  • Vault:

  • In Amazon Glacier, a vault is a container for storing archives. When you create a vault, you specify a name and select an AWS region where you want to create the vault.

  • Each vault resource has a unique address. The general form is:

  • For example, suppose you create a vault (examplevault) in the US West (Oregon) Region. This vault can then be addressed by the following URI:

  • https://<region-specific endpoint>/<account-id>/vaults/<vault-name>

  • Archive:

  • An archive can be any data such as a photo, video, or document and is a base unit of storage in Amazon Glacier. Each archive has a unique ID and an optional description. Note that you can only specify the optional description during the upload of an archive. Amazon Glacier assigns the archive an ID, which is unique in the AWS region in which it is stored.

  • Each archive has a unique address. The general form is:

  • The following is an example URI of an archive stored in the examplevault vault in the US West (Oregon) Region:

  • https://<region-specific endpoint>/<account-id>/vaults/<vault-name>archives/<archives-id>

  • Jobs:

  • Retrieving an archive and vault inventory (list of archives) are asynchronous operations in Amazon Glacier in which you first initiate a job, and then download the job output after Amazon Glacier completes the job. With Amazon Glacier, your data retrieval requests are queued and most jobs take about four hours to complete.

  • To initiate a vault inventory job, you provide a vault name. The archive retrieval job requires both the vault name where the archive resides and the archive ID you wish to download. You can also provide an optional job description when you initiate these jobs. These descriptions can help you in identifying.

  • Both the archive retrieval and vault inventory jobs are associated with a vault. A vault can have multiple jobs in progress at any point in time. When you send a job request (initiate a job), Amazon Glacier returns to you a job ID to track the job. Each job is uniquely identified by a URI of the form:

  • The following is an example of a job associated with an examplevault vault.

  • https://<region-specific endpoint>/<account-id>/vaults/<vault-name>jobs/<jobs-id>

  • The following is an example of a job associated with an examplevault vault.

  • https://<region-specific endpoint>/<account-id>/vaults/<vault-name>jobs/<jobs-id>

  • For each job, Amazon Glacier maintains information such as job type, description, creation date, completion date, and job status.

  • https://glacier.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/111122223333/vaults/examplevault/jobs/HkF9p6o7yj

  • After Amazon Glacier completes a job, you can download the job output.

  • Notification Configuration:

  • Because jobs take time to complete, Amazon Glacier supports a notification mechanism to notify you when a job is complete. You can configure a vault to send notification to an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic when jobs complete. You can specify one SNS topic per vault in the notification configuration.

  • Amazon Glacier stores the notification configuration as a JSON document. The following is an example vault notification configuration.


  • {
    "Topic": "arn:aws:sns:us-west-2:111122223333:mytopic",
    "Events": [ ArchiveRetrievalCompleted", "InventoryRetrievalCompleted" ^
    }

  • Amazon Glacier supports operations to set, get, and delete a notification configuration. When you delete a notification configuration, no notifications are sent when any data retrieval operation on the vault is complete.

  • Supported Operations in Amazon Glacier

  • Vault Operations:

  • Amazon Glacier provides operations to create and delete vaults. You can obtain a vault description for a specific vault or for all vaults in a region. The vault description provides information such as creation date, number of archives in the vault, total size in bytes used by all the archives in the vault, and the date Amazon Glacier generated the vault inventory. Amazon Glacier also provides operations to set, retrieve, and delete a notification configuration on the vault.

  • Archive Operations:

  • Amazon Glacier provides operations for you to upload and delete archives. You cannot update an existing archive; you must delete the existing archive and upload a new archive. Note that each time you upload an archive, Amazon Glacier generates a new archive ID.

  • Job.

  • Retrieving an archive or vault inventory from Amazon Glacier is an asynchronous operation. It requires you to first initiate a job, wait for the job to complete and then download the job output. Amazon Glacier provides operations for you to initiate a job, get job description, and retrieve a list of jobs associated with a vault. Note that most jobs take about four hours to complete. Amazon Glacier can post a message to an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic upon job completion.

  • These operations require you to first initiate a job and then download the job output.

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