Amazon S3 Online Backup Now Supports File Versioning

by Alex Kuretz on February 12, 2010 · 7 comments

in News

I recently received an email from Amazon Web Services notifying me of a new file versioning feature that allows you to store and retrieve older versions of the files that you upload to your S3 buckets. The feature is enabled on a per-bucket basis, and supports a MFA delete capability which requires additional authentication to perform deletes and provides an extra level of security to your stored files. Here’s part of the announcement from Amazon.

We are pleased to announce the availability of the Versioning feature for beta use across all of our Amazon S3 Regions. Versioning allows you to preserve, retrieve, and restore every version of every object in an Amazon S3 bucket. Once you enable Versioning for a bucket, Amazon S3 preserves existing objects any time you perform a PUT, POST, COPY, or DELETE operation on them. By default, GET requests will retrieve the most recently written version. Older versions of an overwritten or deleted object can be retrieved by specifying a version in the request.

This could be particularly useful if you are using the HP Online Backup Add-In or a similar S3-based utility on your Windows Home Server to gain that extra level of security by having your most important files backed up outside the home in case of fire, flood, or theft. You’ll need to manually turn on file versioning as the HP Online Backup Add-In does not at this time support this new feature. Cloudberry has an Add-In for Windows Home Server that appears to support the new File Versioning feature, though I’ve not yet tried it.

Since each revision counts as extra storage I can see the expense for this going up pretty quickly if you’re backing up a lot of content and frequently making changes to files. However since Windows Home Server has Shadow Copies disabled and does not offer the ability to store revisions of files located on the server, this could be a valuable solution for your most important files.

If you’d like to learn more about this feature, read the FAQ here or sign up for the webinar that will be held on Feb 16th 2010, 10:00 – 11:00 AM PST.

Do you plan to enable file versioning for your S3 online backups, or is this overkill for you? Also, please post in the comments if you know of a tool to enable the file versioning as the tools I use (S3Fox and Spaceblock) don’t seem to yet expose this feature.

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I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


JohnBick February 12, 2010 at 8:24 am

I do not plan to use versioning AT THIS TIME. It may not be overkill for folks that retain originals in the server, especially if these are working copies, but, as I have said many times, “one size does NOT fit all”. Remember, the client backups are actually archives and, as such, retain the versioning for the number of days/weeks/months you select. Ìf your working files are in the clients then you have at least daily versioning implemented already.

I do all my editing and working on files that are stored on my clients, never on ones stored on the server. The only files I back up to the cloud (S3 via the HP WHS Backup) are especially “critical” ones and they are sent at 3PM. My file syncs to the server occur at 1AM and 1PM and my client backups at 3-6AM. (Synchronization, therefore, is done just prior to each backup process.) I retain 9 days of daily backups, 7 weeks of weekly, and 36 months of monthly. My automatic (encrypted) backups of both Shared Folders and the client backup database are done at 8:30AM. And, of course, I rotate the backup drives regularly. Earlier versions of any critical files are very readily available.

So I have three YEARS of versioning in the backups, several versions within the last day and some overlap between the two.

And yes, there have been a couple times that I have been very glad I have had some mid-day recovery ability and several times I have retrieved something from a couple days/weeks back. I have even gone back over a year a couple times. But I have yet to have any need to recover from S3.

Tmontana February 13, 2010 at 1:09 am


You mention that: “My automatic (encrypted) backups of both Shared Folders and the client backup database are done at 8:30AM. ”

Do you mind telling us what method you use to encrypt your backups?

Thanks much

Andy February 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

Hi Alex,

First, CloudBerry Backup for WHS has its own implementation of the versioning functionality. We have done it that way long before Amazon announced its native versioning support. We are going to modify our versioning in the future to leverage that of Amazon.

Second, for enabling Amazon S3 versioning you can use our own CloudBerry Explorer freeware and if you want to view / manage versions you should look at CloudBerry Explorer PRO.


JohnBick February 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

TMONTANA: Check out the Automated Backup Script for the automation and then look at the Encrypted Version. (I finally have detailed screenshots for setting up the encrypted version and really am in the process of posting that even though it was first promised a year ago!!! Shame on me!)

Alex Kuretz February 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the tip on the Cloudberry Explorer freeware, it has a very rich feature set and is working well for me.

Tmontana February 13, 2010 at 11:16 am

John: great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Have you (or anyone you know) figured out a way to encrypt the whole server (system encryption) or alternatively all the shares as of yet?


JohnBick February 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Tmontana: That is discussed in that second link. In actuality that was what I had started to do as an objective – and sill get distracted with! But the short answer is “No” and, personally, I find it a bit disappointing!

But wwe’re getting off-topic here so I recommend that be continued in the forum thread rather than here.

Comments are closed, visit the forums to continue the discussion.

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