How-To Use Amazon Glacier & the Arq App for Low-Cost, Long-Term Cloud Storage


ice glacier melting water river snow

The Problem: Online cloud storage is too expensive and Amazon Glacier is complicated.
The Solution: Amazon Glacier is affordable and the Arq app makes it easy.

Even though I was backing up years and years (and gigs and gigs) of photos on two separate hard drives, the truth of the mater was this: If these hard drives were stolen or destroyed in a fire or natural disaster, my families photos would be completely lost.

Here’s what I figured out:

Amazon Glacier + Arq = AWESOME!

When I first began to look for a solution, I check-out the usual suspects. I already had a Dropbox account, so I looked at their pricing.


To handle my family photo archives, I would need one of the following plans:

  • Dropbox Pro – $499/year for 500GB
  • Dropbox Teams – $795/year for 1TB

No thanks.

Unless I needed regular access to these photos (which I didn’t), this was not a good solution. Even a church or organization would have a hard time justifying these kind of rates for long-term file storage!

Next up, Google Drive.

Google Drive

I really like Google Drive’s pricing. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I pre-paid for a full year with Dropbox, I may have already switched to Google Drive. Since I remembered liking their aggressive pricing in the past, I gave them a look:

  • 400GB – $19.99/month
  • 1TB – $49.00/month

The 400GB account wouldn’t be quite big enough, so I would have had to jump on the 1TB. This isn’t too bad, but $600 a year is a lot to spend on some long-term file storage, especially when you consider the price of a physical hard drive.

Amazon Glacier

As I went to look at some Amazon S3, I still didn’t like the prices I would be paying. That’s when Amazon Glacier caught my eye.

Here’s how it works:

In order to keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable.

Yes. You read right. Several hours. Amazon Glacier works just like a glacier. 😀

You may nothing to upload it, pay a low price to store it, and pay to retrieve it. Amazon Glacier is the perfect long-term storage solution.

Here are the rates:

As you can see, it costs nothing to upload and the rates vary depending on how much you download.

Once your data is uploaded you’re going to pay “as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month.” Compare that to Google Drives 1TB plan for $49.99, it’s only a fraction of the cost! Only $10.00 per month!

Considering this is a long term backup solution and I won’t be retrieving it unless my local backup storage fails, this is a slam-dunk. In fact, I’m considering storing old client files this way, too. At the most it’s only going to be a few gigs, and then I don’t need to worry about bouncing the data around, anymore.

The biggest problem I had with Amazon Glacier initially, however, was the interface. In fact, I’m still not 100% sure how you can ‘manually’ upload your data. After a few minutes of frustration, I opted to find an app to take care of the mess. A backup system should be easy to use or it will never be used.


That’s when I came across Arq. I’m just about finished using the 30-day trial and I’m absolutely in love! You simply tell Arq what files you want uploaded/synced, enter in your info, and it takes care of the rest–much like a Dropbox or Crashplan. If you want to download and retrieve an archive, Arq will submit the request.

If you’re already using Amazon S3, you can also use Arq to sync and backup your files. Make a file change? Arq Agent will see the change and update the file. So, if you’re using Amazon S3 like a Dropbox or Google Drive, Arq is great for that, too! It even has a built in calculator for your S3 use.

For only $29, this Mac app makes using Amazon Glacier a real breeze. When you factor in the one time cost of the app with the monthly cost of Amazon Glacier, this system is a no brainer.

Learn more about Amazon Glacier and the Arq app. It’s pretty awesome!


I loved this so much, I contacted Arq to see if they would be interested in giving a couple of copies away to a few ChurchMag readers. 

Here’s how you can enter to win one of two copies of Arq:

  • Share this post on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
  • Leave a comment below, telling us what kind of files you need to backup.

That’s it!

The winner will be announced in about a week. 😀

[Image via € jgraham via Compfight cc]


Eric Dye

I am a blogger, business owner and lover of coffee. I spend most of my time as Programs Director for Open Church, but you'll also find me as a writer and editor for ChurchMag, as well as working on Live Theme and ChurchMag Press. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

We have 24 comments...
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  1. says

    I’ve used S3 forever, but I’ve never tried glacier! I have a ton of pictures, and old documents I’d love to store away somewhere to free up some local space. I’d much rather use Amazon’s storage than my own external drives…they seem to die far too often.

  2. David Miller says

    Not exactly usable for everyday cloud storage…

    “Amazon Glacier is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable.”

  3. Sam says

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for to make Glacier usable. Great find, thanks for sharing! If your draw is random, count me in! Otherwise I just may drop the cash (to save some cash!).

  4. says

    Wow, hadn’t hear of Glacier before. This is a great backup system from a company you know will be around. I currently use Backblaze because they are one of the only cloud sites that will let you backup an external drive.

    I will definitely be looking into this!

  5. Jason Hoffmann says

    I work in web design/development a lot and keeping my files backed up without having to fuss around too much is a big thing for me. Arq seems perfect for that, I’d love to take a stab at implementing it into my workflow!

  6. says

    I’d store all our old video projects data. We hardly ever need it – but we don’t want to get rid of it… this would be perfect and out of the way. JV

  7. AMAR says

    What I didn’t like about Arq is that the data I send to Glacier using Arq can only be retrieved(in a useful way) using Arq. That is a big no for me. I know there’s this constraint because of encryption but I wish it was some open standard which depended only on my private key/password and not a tool. So, the next time I stopped using Arq and decide to get the data back using Cyberduck(which sill doesn’t support Glacier, even for paid users) or any tom-dick-harry client, I should be able to get my data back.

    Besides, when you want to get the data back, Glacier becomes extremely costly.

    • says

      True, and some good negative feedback on Arq. :)

      However, Glacier should only be for that long-term data that either is the back-up of your back-up or info you don’t actually intend to need unless it’s a worse case scenario.

      • AMAR says

        I agree. But still the price becomes astronomical when you want to get more than a few GBs of data back.

        And that is why for most of the end users services like BackBlaze and CrashPlan make more sense.

        However, Glacier can be really good for official/organization archives rather than individual needs. I can see my country’s(India) govt departments saving millions of dollars each year with those centuries old records kept in cabinets. They can be sent off to such cloud servers and access is only required when somebody requests for it, that can be charged then.

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