S3 is Amazon’s cloud storage service for developers, but you can also use it to host static web pages on the cheap. Amazon introduced this feature about a year ago and today, it is making it even easier to run basic sites on S3 with the addition of root domain hosting (using Amazon’s Route 53 DNS service) so users can access your site without specifying the “www” in the address and enhanced redirection functionality.
While using S3 without the rest of Amazon’s web services doesn’t allow you to host any complex sites, S3 can be a good choice for hosting basic sites and images. As there are no monthly subscription fees, you only pay Amazon’s relatively low fees for storage and bandwidth. You also don’t have to worry about updating your content management system and plugins.
As for the new features, setting them up is pretty easy. As Amazon notes, you previously needed to use a proxy server to ensure your visitors could access your site without the ‘www’ address (or use a third-party service like wwwizer). “This introduced additional costs, extra work, and another potential point of failure.” Now, you just create a new S3 bucket without the ‘www’ in the host name and choose the new “redirect all requests to another host name” option. The only semi-complicated thing here is that you also have to set this up in Route 53, but Amazon offers a pretty detailed walkthrough that explains how this works, too.
The new redirection rules, Amazon says, ” can be used to smooth things over when you make changes to the logical structure of your site” or to switch pages from static to dynamic hosting as your site grows.
Overall, these are small changes, but if you are looking for an interesting project for the long weekend, consider setting up a blog on S3 (just like Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels) and start blogging like a hacker.