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Setting Up an S3 Browser

What is S3?

Simple Storage Service (S3) stores any object conceivable for internet applications, backups, disaster recovery, data archives, and more. It uses a robust API set to store and retrieve scalable data from anywhere on the web to anywhere in the world.

What is an S3 Browser?

S3 Browser is a freeware Windows client for Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront. Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web.

The S3 browser is a freeware Windows client for Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront. You can use this to store and pull scalable amounts of data at will from Hostwinds. The following article will guide you through the steps needed to set up an S3 browser using Hostwinds' Storage Solutions as a base where your data will live.

It is important to note that Hostwinds has no affiliation with the S3 browser. However, we will use the S3 browser in the instructions below to illustrate how to access S3 Compatible Storage.

How to set up storage for an S3 Browser

Note: To make any of the changes outlined here, you must log in to the Hostwinds Client Area. This documentation will show you how to access our Object Storage by use of an S3 browser API.

First, You need to enter your Cloud Portal. This section is separate from your Client Area to streamline your workflow and separate necessary tasks.

Starting in your client area dashboard, move to the Cloud Portal menu item and click on the Cloud Portal link to proceed to the Cloud Portal dashboard. For this article, we are going to create a container for you to connect to the browser.

Locate the Storage dropdown and click on the Object Storage Link to move to this section. If you do not already have a container built, you can use a large button in the screen center to create one. Should you already have containers made, you can click on the blue Create Container button on the top-right of the screen.

Enter the following pieces of information to set up the container:

  1. Name of the Container: This will help distinguish your container for later reference as needed.
  2. Location: You should always place the container in a location closest to its users for best performance. For this example, we are located in Seattle and will set up the container in the Seattle location.
  3. Public: You may choose whether to make the container public or private. Note that the Public Backups Method is generally not advised, because as the name implies, the link would be public. However, should you feel the need to make your container public at a later date, select the checkbox under the "Public" column in your "Object Storage" tab.

You now have something with which to connect! So let's get started on setting up your S3 browser.

To get set up, you need to get the API info. Access this using the green Object API Info button in the top-right corner of your Object Storage dashboard. Look at the following information for each location that you have containers at:

Access Key: The point or "door" that provides access to the API endpoint. Note that this is not a secret key, used by anything trying to access your API

Secret Key: A unique token that provides permission to access the API endpoint. It is your "password" to enter the API and should be kept private from any unauthorized user.

API (Application Programming Interface) Endpoint: This URL serves as the connection between your application and the data it will be working. Using the previously stated keys, you can gain access to it and connect your S3 browser.

Note: You can regenerate your API keys at any point from this popup by clicking on the Regenerate API Key in (Location) buttons. You must make sure to update these keys in your workflow for proper functions.

API keys control the use of and protect your API from unintentional abuse. They are composed of a unique string that identifies and authenticates the use of the API. Keys allow specific entry to the use of the API and functioning as a secret token specific to your API only.

Set up and Connect your S3 Browser

Note: This section deals with applications and workspaces outside of the Hostwinds ecosystem. Be aware that depending on your Operating System and versions, small steps may differ from those presented. For this section, we are starting from the point of a first-time user.

To continue, make sure that you have downloaded and installed the S3 browser on the device you want.

Upon starting up your S3 browser for the first time, you need to add a new Account. You will need to use the API Keys generated earlier in this article in the object storage setup section.

S3 will ask you for several pieces of information to add a new account to its interface:

  1. Account Name: This will help distinguish this specific account for later reference as needed. We recommend that you enter the exact name of the container you set up previously in this article.
  2. Account Type: This determines the type of account you are using with the browser. For Hostwinds, you will want to choose the S3 Compatible account type.
  3. Access Key ID: The access Key is the same Access Key we generated in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal earlier in this article. You can always reference this in our Cloud Portal by clicking on the green Object API button.
  4. Secret Access Key: The Secret Access Key is the same Secret Key generated in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal earlier in this article. You can always reference this in our Cloud Portal by clicking on the green Object API button. Please note that you need to keep this secret from unauthorized users.
  5. REST Endpoint - A URL that sends API calls to your storage. We created this earlier in the article, and it shows as a URL from the location we chose for our API.
  6. Encrypt Access Keys with a password: You can choose to set a password that you require to view your Access Keys. We recommend that you always have a password to keep your data safe and in your control.
  7. Use secure transfer (SSL/TLS): Hostwinds always recommends keeping your data as safe as possible and that you use this option. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) scramble the data transferred between two systems, making them impossible to read by an outsider.

When completed and the correct information applied on this step, you will now click the Add new account button.

You now have access to the Hostwinds Object Storage through the S3 browser.

Using S3 Browser with Hostwinds Cloud Storage

All files on S3 store in top-level containers called 'buckets.' To start working with the S3 platform, you will need to create a bucket.

In addition, Hostwinds will set up a bucket labeled for you. Your available cPanel usernames and backups (if you have the service activated) will exist here. You can download, upload and delete files here.

Create a bucket

You must be in your S3 browser on the account you set up earlier in this article to create a bucket. Then, click the Buckets dropdown link in the S3 Browser Menu, and you can select the Create New Button link to start the process. Alternatively, you can use the CTRL+N shortcut on Windows or CMND+N on Mac to create a new bucket.

You will need to assign a name to this bucket, choose the location it's set to, and then press the Create new bucket button. When created, this bucket will show in your list of buckets available.

Create and manage a folder

The organization of files in your bucket is done just like most operating systems in use. Files in your buckets are grouped and contained in folders. Folders can be nested in additional folders.

To create a folder, you will need to select the bucket that it will sit in. Next, click the Folders dropdown link in the S3 Browser Menu, and you can choose the Create New Folder link to start the process. Alternatively, you can use the CTRL+N shortcut on Windows or CMND+N on Mac to create a new folder. Next, you will need to name this folder and click on the Create folder button.

Upload files

On Windows, uploading files is a relatively easy task. First, open your S3 browser, select a bucket you want to upload files into and click the Upload button at the bottom of the window. Next, please select the file or folders you wish to upload and confirm you want to upload them. A tasks bar will show you the upload progress of each item, and you can retry, stop, or cancel the tasks using a right-click menu popup.

Download files

On Windows, downloading your files is even simpler. First, open your S3 browser and select the bucket you would like to pull. Select any files from the bucket you want to download, click the Download button at the bottom of the window, set your destination on your device, and watch the complete tasks. Note that the taskbar has the same functionality as earlier in this article. You can retry, stop, or cancel the tasks using a right-click menu popup.

Alternatively, you can also click on the Buckets link at the top of the window and select the Download All Files to.. link to download the entire bucket.