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Video Hosting: Libsyn vs Amazon S3

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Question: I’ve listened to your podcast for years and recently got down to creating enough videos for a client who wants to host them on an external, reliable server. Per your suggestions in the past, I’m leaning towards Amazon S3 to host their videos but came across Libsyn. They seem to have a viable option for podcasters. What are the differences between the two for someone who wants to host video?

Answer: The short answer is cost and how technical you are. Yes, Libsyn is geared for video and audio podcasters while Amazon S3 is geared for any type of file storage including video.

Libsyn: For the non-tech, average user interesting in simple hosting without the pain

  • Expanding Storage
  • Unmetered Bandwidth
  • RSS Feed Creation
  • Customizable Webpage / Blog
  • Web and FTP Uploading

Amazon S3: More for the techie user wanting more features

  • Store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web
  • Gives anyone access to the same highly scalable, reliable, secure, fast, inexpensive infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites
  • Multiple hidden features
  • Amazon DevPay enables you to charge customers for downloading files
  • There are 3rd party services that can add the same features as Libsyn – ie: EZS3 and Simple S3

Let’s get into the details of some important features of both and how they compare:

Uploading

– 3rd party applications are required to upload media files to your account and there are tons of them for free and advanced ones costing a small fee. The most popular free ones are S3Fox Organizer and Cloudberry Explorer.

– You have two options for getting your media files into your Libsyn account: upload right from your browser, or use any FTP client to upload your files.

Storage

– Amazon S3 offers a pay as you go, static storage service at a rate calculated on space requirements and bandwidth. Meaning the more downloads you have and the more files you upload- it all counts to your storage. So the more files downloaded or archived, the more you pay. Individual Amazon S3 objects (aka media files or files) can range in size from 1 byte to 5 gigabytes.

U.S. pricing is $0.150 per GB for storage for the first 50 TB, $0.140 per GB for the next 50 TB, $0.130 per GB for the next 400 TB, $0.105 per GB for the next 500 TB, $0.080 per GB for the next 4000 TB, and $0.055 per GB for storage used over 5000 TB per month.

– Libsyn (Liberated Syndication) allows you to pay for your monthly storage at one fee, and receive unlimited bandwidth. For example, the libsyn1500 package is $60 / month for 1500MB/month which boils down to 17.5GB of storage a year.

They offer different levels where users get an allotment of space to use every month. You don’t have to delete to save space. 30 days after your file is uploaded, your file is automatically archived and no longer consumes any of your storage quota. Your files are available for as long as you keep your account.

Quota Gotchas with Libsyn

If you’re uploading video or audio files on a weekly basis, you may need to pick a day of the week to upload your file to avoid running out of storage space the next month.  Because of this archiving system, If you keep a regular schedule, you should be fine, but if you publish your files irregularly, you may have to wait for an older file to archive before you can upload again.

Security and redundancy

– Amazon S3:

  • S3 is built for mission-critical and primary data storage
  • 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability of media over a given year
  • And if for some reason their servers do go down, S3 is also designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities
  • Their Service Level Agreement can’t be beat

– Libsyn is not built for mission critical and primary data storage and has been known to have some uptime problems, but nothing more than a typical shared server. The professional grade LibsynPro provides a 99.99% uptime service level guarantee which really means 15 minutes per day, or 88 hours a year of downtime under that service level agreement.

Using Your Own Domain Name

– Amazon S3 is more on the tech side when wanting to create your own domain (http://video.thedvshow.com) instead of the default Amazon URL (http://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.dvshow.com/). You just need to edit your DNS settings.  Here are the details on how to do it. Bucket Explorer has an option to “Use bucket name as virtual host” to make sharing files in this manner even easier.

– Libsyn sets this all up for an additional $5.00 one-time charge

Archiving

– Upload files to your S3 account and they sit there forever until you do something with them.

– With Libsyn a file gets archived when it is 30 days old.  If you upload a 25 megabyte file today, 30 days from now it will be archived and 25 megabytes of available space will be restored to your account.

Archived files are moved from our high-priority media network to our lower priority archive network. When a file is moved to the archive network, its web URL (the link to it) stays the same.

Stats

– Amazon S3 and stats: The first thing is you have to use Firefox (with the Amazon S3 organizer plugin) or something like the Cloudberry Explorer (free). You need to configure these programs to see your account.

Once those are configured there are 3rd party, free services that can track that URL or a redirect URL. It’s a few more steps with Amazon S3 and a bit more technical.

There is a service called S3stat costing $5 (after free, 30 day trial) to get accurate, detailed stats.

– With Libsyn, files will need to be in your root directory and downloadable via your account in order to track downloads.

FYI: for The DV Show, our podcasts and client videos have always been hosted on Amazon S3.  Their security, reliability and history of uninterrupted performance is a no brainer. Libsyn may be cheaper but you get what you pay for. The idea of thousands of people on a historically unreliable, shared hosting system makes us feel a little unsafe about important client data. Libsyn is geared for podcasters with added features we didn’t need.

2 Comments »

  • Kirti said:

    Hi,
    Nice article..
    Bucket Explorer an Amazon S3 desktop client will help you in hosting your vedios from Amazon S3 as well it will help you to manage the content at S3…
    http://www.bucketexplorer.com/documentation/amazon-s3–how-to-stream-flv-video-from-amazons3.html

  • Rob Walch said:

    Thanks for the review of Libsyn.com.

    A few additional points I would like to make as why so many people choose Libsyn to host their podcasts (>15,000 podcasters host their shows with Libsyn).

    1. Stats – With Libsyn you get accurate stats for unique download requests for your files. And with the new Libsyn system you also get a break down on where those download requests are coming from.

    2. Unmetered bandwidth – If your podcast is mentioned by Boing Boing, Oprah, The Wallstreet Journal or anyone else that would cause you to get a lot of new downloads – your first thought when you host with Libsyn – is “great I want to check my stats”. If you host where you pay for the bandwidth often your first thought would be “OMG what is this going to cost me?”

    3. Advertising for your Podcast – Wizzard Media / Libsyn works with many of the shows hosting on Libsyn to help bring ads to their shows.

    4. iPhone App for the podcast. With Libsyn you can manage your personalized iPhone App right from the same interface you use to release new episodes. And we do not charge to build the iPhone App for your show.

    5. It is very simple to use and creates an iTunes compliant RSS feed that has lots of flexibility. Plus there are also blog page templates to choose from – So Libsyn can be your host for your Site and your Podcast.

    If you have any other questions about the Libsyn Service – please let me know.

    Best Regards,

    Rob Walch
    VP Podcaster Relations
    Wizzard Media / Libsyn

    rob@wizzard.tv

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