When you’re first getting started with podcasting, one of the first challenges you might run into has to do with hosting your large files. Whether you’re producing an audio podcast or a video podcast, the media files can get large fairly quickly.
Of course, you can always use your FTP client and upload the files to a folder on your webserver, and that may actually work for a while.
But in the long run, there are several reasons why hosting your podcast media files on your web server may not be the best solution:
- Your web hosting account may have storage limits, which can result in high fees for overage when you store too many large files
- Similarly, your web hosting account may have bandwidth limits that you may have never come close to exceeding in the past. Even one popular episode of your podcast could cause you to hit and exceed these limits when your listeners or viewers download the file.
- Perhaps more importantly, your web hosting account isn’t usually built for serving large files. When you have a number of subscribers that automatically download your new episodes when they’re released, you could quickly overload your web server with a number of users downloading large files all at once via iTunes or other “podcatcher” apps. This results in poor download performance for your subscribers, and could even temporarily bring down your website.
There are quite a few ways to solve the problem of where to host podcast files. One simple way is to host your media files at Amazon S3.
Why Use Amazon S3 for Your Podcast Files?
You’re probably familiar with the idea that Amazon has built a massive cloud infrastructure, known as Amazon Web Services (“AWS”), that it makes available to anyone who might need to use it. Services like Netflix, Dropbox, Pinterest and many others use AWS to host reliable, scalable web services, mobile apps, and media storage solutions.
At the heart of AWS is a service called “Simple Storage Service” (S3). S3 was one of the early “cloud” technologies when it was launched in 2006, and it has remained a leading solution for situations that call for hosting numerous and/or large media files.
Not only is it reliable (with a 99.9% guaranteed uptime), but it’s ridiculously fast. When a user requests a file stored at Amazon S3, chances are they’ll be able to download it quite a bit faster than if the file had been stored on your web server.
Even better: it’s very affordable. There are no monthly fees. You simply pay for what you use.
They don’t charge you for “inbound” transfer (meaning the bandwidth that you use when you upload files to S3). There’s a monthly charge for storage of your files that comes to about 3¢ per gigabyte in the US. For “outbound” transfer (when people download your files from S3), you’ll be charged about 9¢ per gigabyte.
But when you first set up a new account at AWS, you’ll qualify for the “free usage tier” for the first year, which gives you up to 5 GB of storage and up to 15GB of transfer (each month) absolutely free. This makes a great deal even that much more affordable—especially when you’re just getting started and you may not be earning as much from your podcast. Check out all the details on the free usage tier here.
How to Quickly & Easily Upload Large Files to Amazon S3
While I’ve provided some written instructions for the entire process (below), you may also prefer to watch this video, where I walk you through the process step by step.
- The first step is to sign up for your AWS account. (Note: if you already have an Amazon account, you can use the same email address and password. Just keep in mind that it may make sense to separate your business account from your personal one.)
- Once you’re logged in, click the link for S3. It’ll be amid the myriad of available cloud services in the AWS package.
- Next, you’ll need to create a “bucket.” This is Amazon lingo for “a place to store stuff.”
- Amazon provides a web-based interface for uploading and managing your files. I’ve found that it’s a little easier to use a Firefox extension called S3Fox, which works on Windows, Mac or Linux.
- Once you’ve got S3Fox installed, you’ll need some API credentials for your AWS account to allow it to have access. Think of these like a username & password, and keep them secure. You can get them from the Security Credentials section of your AWS account. Once you’re in there, you’ll need to create an Access Key ID & Secret Access Key pair.
- Copy & paste your Access Key ID & Secret Access Key pair into S3Fox by clicking “Manage Accounts” and then giving your account a name (only you will see this). You’ll see boxes for the 2 values, which you can paste right in.
- Once S3Fox has successfully accessed your S3 account, you’ll see the bucket show up on the right-hand side of your screen. Click on the name of the bucket to get “inside” it. On the left-hand side, you can browse your computer for files, which can then be easily uploaded to the S3 bucket with just a couple of clicks.
One More Thing: Make Your Files Publicly Available
By default, Amazon assumes that your S3 bucket’s contents should be private. While it’s possible to change the permissions on your files one at a time after you’ve uploaded them, I recommend that you just set a policy on the entire bucket instead.
This way, you’ll know that anything you put in that bucket will automatically be available for download by anyone. (If you need to keep other files protected, just set up another bucket.)
Here’s how to add the policy to your S3 bucket:
- Visit your S3 Dashboard by clicking on S3 from the AWS Management Console.
- You should see the names of all of your buckets listed. (If you only have one, then it’ll be a short list!) Click on the white space to the right of your bucket name. This will “select” it, which causes the line it is on to be “highlighted” in a light blue color.
- Click the “Properties” button on the upper right-hand side of your screen.
- The “Properties” panel will open on the right-hand side of your screen. Expand the “Permissions” section and click “Add Bucket Policy”
- Copy the policy below and paste it into the box that opens. NOTE: You’ll need to edit the policy so that the portion that reads
<bucket name>is replaced with the name of your bucket.
- Click “Save” on the box, then “Save” in the “Properties” panel.
- Voila! All your files will now be available publicly!
If you run across a problem or a question, don’t hesitate to hit me up by leaving a comment below! I’ll do my best to answer you!