Amazon debuts physical data transfer

Cloud infrastructure provider Amazon Web Services ( has launched the limited beta of AWS Import/Export, which accelerates large data transfers by letting customers ship their physical storage devices to and from AWS using "snail mail."

According to AWS's Wednesday announcement, AWS lets users transfer data directly onto and off of storage devices, bypassing the Internet, accelerating the migration of significant data sets to the cloud. For instance, even on a T1 connection it would take more than 80 days to upload just 1TB of data. AWS also notes that Import/Export is more cost effective than upgrading connectivity.

AWS said the Import/Export functionality is especially useful for data migration, off-site backup, direct data interchange, and disaster recovery.

Amazon Web Services developer evangelist Jeff Barr notes in the company blog that hard drives are growing quicker than Internet connections are getting faster. "It is now relatively easy to create a collection of data so large that it cannot be uploaded to off-site storage (e.g. Amazon S3) in a reasonable amount of time. Media files, corporate backups, data collected from scientific experiments, and potential AWS Public Data Sets are now at this point. Our customers in the scientific space routinely create terabyte data sets from individual experiments," Barr wrote.

Currently in beta, AWS Import/Export supports importing data into Amazon S3 buckets in the US only, however, export and EU support will be added in the coming months.

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