Amazon S3 vs Firebase Storage

While most people focus primarily on front-end technologies when discussing app projects, the backend platform powering the app is just as important to improve your project’s success rate.

Cloud storage or serverless architecture is gaining quite a bit of popularity as they bring in a slew of benefits over the traditional single servers. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Google Firebase are two of the most popular hosting options for app developers today.

Each of them comes with its own set of features and advantages. So keep reading as we pit S3 vs Firebase to decide and recommend which one will be the best platform for your development project.

Key Takeaways

  • S3 provides object storage via a web service interface
  • Firebase provides an end-to-end development experience
  • Both are managed services for object storage

What is S3?

Simple Storage Service (or S3) is a service offered by Amazon under their on-demand cloud computing platform subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is an object-based storage solution offered through a web service interface. In fact, it uses the same scalable infrastructure used by Amazon.com to run its global e-commerce platform.

S3 can be employed in a variety of situations to store any type of object. This versatility calls for a plethora of use cases like internet apps, hybrid cloud storage, data archiving, backup and recovery, and analytics data lakes.

The main difference between S3 and other storage solutions from AWS is how the data is stored. In S3, users create “buckets” of data, which are used to store object large binary files. Each bucket can store up to 5 TB worth of files, and each AWS account holder can create up to 100 buckets from one account.

S3 Core Features

  • Easy storage management and monitoring

S3 presents a flat, non-hierarchical structure, which, coupled with a ton of management features, help developers deploy the platform for data management in a way that best matches their requirements.

For example, S3 buckets can be organized with prefixes, and the configurable S3 inventory report helps keep track of the object files and their respective tags.

  • Storage Analytics and insights

The first-in-class S3 cloud storage analytics solution provides a single view of the object storage usage. It also generates insights at multiple levels for the users to decide when to transition to storage classes. These solutions can be used to deliver recommendations for cost reduction and protection measures.

  • Data processing and transfer

S3 Object Lambda allows users to use custom code on AWS infrastructure to alter the data requested by the S3 GET request without managing the underlying compute resources. AWS also has a host of data transfer services like the Storage Gateway, DataSync, and Snow Family to seamlessly migrate your data to S3.

Advantages of S3

  • Reliable security

Users can set access permissions for individual S3 data files and buckets, meaning only authorized entities can access them. In addition, the Identity Access Management policy allows comprehensive control over who and where the data can be accessed, ensuring that no unauthorized identity can access your data. 

  • All-time availability

As stated earlier, S3 uses the same infrastructure used by Amazon’s e-commerce platform. So, every user has access to the same reliable, fast, and highly scalable infrastructure backed by Amazon.

You can choose S3 Standard and S3 Infrequently Accessed (IA), which is designed for 99.99% availability & 99.99999999999% durability.

  • Cost

S3 infrastructure is also extremely affordable, as users only pay for what they use. S3 Standard comes at an equivalent of $0.023 / GB, while the Standard IA comes to $0.0125 / GB.

Users also have access to Amazon Glacier at even cheaper prices ($0.004 / GB), which can be accessed by defining data migration policies automatically to IA.

What is Firebase?

Firebase is a fairly new Backend as a Service (BaaS) with a really powerful real-time backend, specially designed for mobile developers. If your primary focus is mobile development only, Firebase comes with a host of features and tools like image, text, and voice APIs and is remarkably easy to use.

Firebase Core Features

  • The real-time database

The NoSQL cloud database utilizes a JSON document protocol for data and image-based file storage. This enables seamless real-time storage and data syncing, facilitating better connectivity than HTTP.

Moreover, the database can also be accessed when the app is offline, and the app can use an SDK to interact with the database, meaning you do not need to interact with the app server tier.

  • Firebase Analytics

At the heart of Firebase is Google Analytics, which is one of the most popular analytics solutions for web admins. It helps users understand how people use your Android, iOS, or web application.

The SDK automatically captures user events, and you can also define your custom events to track the parameters that uniquely matter to your organization.

  • Cloud Messaging

Being a serverless framework, Firebase allows users to execute backend codes in response to HTTPS requests. Firebase cloud messaging is a cross-platform messaging solution that allows users to send messages and notifications to any device in a trusted environment at no cost. You can define custom messages and notifications like data, expiration dates, sounds, etc., immediately or at a scheduled time.

Advantages of Firebase

  • All in one platform

Firebase Authentication is a secure multi-sign in solution which allows users to provide an easy sign-in feature for your business. Your customers can easily sign into your business through secure platforms like Google, Twitter, Facebook, GitHub, etc. Since it was developed by the same team that developed Google Sign-in, you can trust the reliability of Firebase. 

  • Scalable hosting 

Firebase was built for performance and scalability. In the event of data changes, Firebase starts calculating how all the clients can be kept synced within minimum updates. In addition, the API functions are designed to scale linearly according to the size of the updated data. So, your app will scale up irrespective of the userbase size without any change in its code.

  • Managed service

One significant highlight of Firebase is its integration with Google Ads, AdMob, Play Store, and BigQuery. This seamless management integration is crucial if you want to make the app efficient and manage data accurately. With Analytics and periodic Crash Reports, developers can focus on improving the UX.

S3 vs Firebase Comparison

S3Firebase
DescriptionObject storage service from Amazon Web ServicesGoogle’s BaaS platform
Free TierYesYes
Date Launched20112006
Parent OrganizationAWSGoogle Cloud
Pricing$0.023/GB (North Virgina, below 50TB storage). More details at the pricing page.$0.026/GB
FeaturesDatabases, Authentication, Machine Learning, Analytics, etcAccess points, batch operations, replication, etc
AdvantagesAll-in-one platform
Ease of use
Fully managed service
Flexibility
Durability
Low cost
Popular AppsAccording to Stackshare, LaunchDarkly, Accenture, and Twitch use FirebaseAccording to AWS , Siemens, GE, and Nasdaq use S3

Conclusion

When deciding between S3 and Firebase, you need to understand their applications accurately and assess your requirements thoroughly. For further information, you can contact one of the leading app hosting experts and gain better insights into the matter after in-depth analysis.

FAQ

What is S3?

Object storage service from Amazon Web Services

What is Firebase?

Google’s BaaS platform

What are the differences and similarities between S3 and Firebase?

– S3 is cheaper than Firebase Storage
– Firebase provides an end-to-end development experience
– Both are managed services for object storage


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