The Best Backup Tools for Amazon Glacier

obr2By Claire Broadley — Last Updated: 02 Dec'17 2015-02-02T10:35:30+00:00Google+

Amazon offers various cloud storage services, the most well-known arguably being S3. But there’s another, Glacier, that’s worth considering.

With Amazon Glacier, cloud storage becomes affordable for all, with massive backup space available for a pocketful of loose change. Before you head to Amazon and sign up for Glacier, you need to know two things: its limitations and the way it works.

We’ll look at features alongside cost, since the two are related, and then we’ll look at the actual backup process.

Amazon Glacier Pricing

Amazon Glacier doesn’t have a straightforward price per month. The service is billed according to a number of factors:

  • Disk space – you’ll pay per gigabyte per month to store your archives
  • Bandwidth – you’ll pay a fee for this, depending on how much data is transfered
  • Duration – if you store a file for less than three months before deleting it, you’ll be penalized
  • Location – different physical locations have different pricing tiers assigned to them
  • Retrieval – it takes at least 4 hours for a file to be made available

Estimating the cost of a Glacier plan is far more complex than other cloud storage services like Dropbox or SugarSync. If you want to get an estimate of the monthly price, there’s a calculator here.

Why is Amazon Glacier So Affordable?

Glacier is designed for long-term storage. The clue is in the name. Glacier effectively puts your data into a deep freeze. Once uploaded, data is less accessible, so it’s not a storage service designed for continuous cloud backups or file syncing. 

When it comes to restoring a backup, think of Glacier like the cloud equivalent of a tape backup drive. It takes a long time to get to your data, and it’s expensive to do so. In short, Amazon is happy to store your files cheaply as long as you don’t need to access them too often, too fast, or too soon.

How Glacier Works In Practice

Signing up to Amazon Glacier is simple, but you need to understand how this cloud storage service works. You create a storage account with Amazon directly (you can use your regular Amazon login for this).

Top 5 Amazon Glacier Clients | Best Backup Tools for Amazon Glacier | How to Use Amazon Glacier

You then have the option of downloading a third-party application – the Amazon Glacier client – to manage the files. Let’s look at some of the applications you can use.

Fast Glacier

Windows – free for personal use, $29.95 for commercial use

If you’re looking for an intuitive, free client, look no further. Fast Glacier supports multi-part uploads, so it’s great for uploading large amounts of data into the cloud when you don’t have a T1 connection at your disposal. It’s also free for personal users.

One really good feature is the ability to hook up multiple Amazon Glacier accounts, so it’s a great client if you use the cloud storage service at home and at work. It’s also compatible with Windows Explorer using drag and drop.

Glacier Uploader

Cross platform, free 

Glacier Uploader is a Java client for Glacier. It’s a useful utility to throw onto a memory stick or onto another cloud backup service, just in case you need it.

Glacier uploader works on Windows, Mac and Linux, so if you’re continually moving around the office or server room, it’s a good choice. Glacier Uploader requires a little more technical know-how than some other solutions, so if you want something simple, keep searching.


Mac OS X, $39.99 

Arq offers pre-upload encryption for added security, and it can back up to both Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier. That’s really useful, because it means you can use instant access cloud storage (S3) alongside slow cold storage (Glacier), mixing the two for different folders and files.

Users can download a trial of Arq before paying for it. If you’re sick of Time Machine and its unpredictable behaviour – particularly when using a NAS drive like the My Cloud – Arq could be worthy of investigation.


Cross platform, free

The Simple Amazon Glacier Uploader (SAGU) takes the command line Glacier application and wraps an attractive user interface around it.

It’s not the most feature-packed tool, naturally, but it does work on Windows, Mac and Linux as it’s built in Java so it’s super-portable.

Cloud Gates

Mac/ Windows, free

Cloud Gates creates a virtual drive on your computer that’s hooked up to your Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier account. You can then upload data to this drive via your normal FTP software.

The Cloud Gates blog hasn’t been updated for 9 months, but its Twitter account is still active. The website is somewhat basic, though, so proceed with caution if you’re not confident.

CloudBerry Backup

Windows, $29.99 for personal use, up to $299.99 for commercial use 

CloudBerry Backup is more like a traditional backup tool, since it allows you to upload data according to your pre-defined schedule. CloudBerry Backup supports Amazon Glacier, Amazon S3, Google and Azure, so it’s a very handy utility for those who use multiple cloud storage services on Windows.

There’s a 15-day trial available so you can give it a try before purchasing it. Commercial users will have to pay between $79.99 and $299.99 for a copy. The website is clearly designed to attract enterprise clients, so if you’re backing up corporate data, this might be the solution for you. 


No matter which Amazon Glacier client you use, remember that backups take up hours to be made available, and that’s without the time needed to download the data. Don’t use Glacier for files you need in a hurry, like your college work or urgent presentations.

Additionally, you’ll have to request an entire archive (zip file) – not just a single file. Every time you access an archive, you pay for the bandwidth used to download it, too. Glacier really is a storage service for the packrats rather than casual cloud storage customers.

13 thoughts on “The Best Backup Tools for Amazon Glacier”

    1. @ mrsoltys Aren’t glacier and s3 two different services. Are you sure what you’re recommending is not using s3 service instead of glacier

      1. If you read the article that mrsoltys linked to, you’ll see what is meant. You create an S3 bucket, and create a policy to have the data immediately archived to Glacier. In this way, you shouldn’t get charged for S3 storage. They’re two separate services under the AWS canopy, but they’re easily linked together.

      2. Of course they are different services but they can work together. In S3 bucket configuration you can set an archive rule so that all content is archived to Glacier automatically. You can read about it in the Amazon AWS site:
        If set to automatically archive to Glacier, only the Glacier pricing applies.

        Regards, MV.

    2. Great Tip.
      This is the simplest way I’ve seen for accessing S3 and Glacier from any computer…worked great from my Linux laptop

    3. This is very useful. You dont need any 3rd-part software or long keys, it works in a browser. You are never locket to a 3rd part supplier who crypt your files and can increase their price. Remember to have updated java, to be able to Enable Enhanced Uploader at amazon and upload entire folders.

  1. How does one backup data on a server (not a desktop) to the glacier service. I have a website with about 400 GB of data in MongoDB and would very much like to back it up to glacier, without having to download it all to my desktop first.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Are you planning on restoring mongo with that data ? If so, be aware that Glacier takes 3 – 5 hours _Just to list the contents of a directory_.

      I just tried to access my old backups, took 3 hours.

      That’s why it’s so cheap.

  2. So lets say I store an archive in Glaciar today using any client proposed here (e.g. my pictures on DVD) resting assured that I will be able to show to my kids in 10years. To retrieve those archives in 10years I understand I need the metadata used when storing, correct? What program will, in 10years time, be able to understand the metadata created today to retrieve that data again? …I would greatly appreciate some clarification if my reasoning is right and we have an issue here. Tks!

    1. Not exactly sure what you mean by metadata in this case. The files are stored in an archive (e.g. zip archive). When you download the archive in the future you will expand the archive and have access to the files, just like you would today. Perhaps you mean file formats? If you the files you are storing are the most popular current formats (e.g.: jpeg, png, dng, mp3, avi) you can be confident that you will still have software in the future to read these ‘legacy’ formats. Even 50 years in the future there will still be ways to access these formats. I am not sure what kind of answer you are looking for as no one can predict the future of these formats, but major (non-proprietary) formats of today will still be accessible far in the future.

  3. As a reseller of other backup solution I find this post really interesting. I´m using already S3 as a target of loads of client backups, this is made through a backup agent as well.
    Glaciar is really cheap compared with S3 and a good alternative for home clients that have there pictures and movies stored, they want a cheap solution no matter if they need to wait 5 hours to start a restore.
    Anyone know any backup agent working with Glaciar or S3 that make possible to rebrand? a

  4. The solution to upload first to S3 and then transfer to Glacier is great, HOWEVER, it cost 2.5 times what it costs if you use JUST Glacier.

    Cost per GB when using the mixed solution is $0.01 per GB, while if just use Glacier, its cost is $0.004 per GB

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