How to Move Photos and Videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3?

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to Move Photos and Videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3?

Moving your photos and videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3 allows you to take advantage of Amazon's virtually unlimited and affordable storage. This guide covers everything you need to know to make the transfer.

Introduction to Moving Photos and Videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3

If you currently store your photos and videos in SmugMug but are looking for a change, Amazon S3 is an excellent option to consider. Amazon S3 provides secure, durable, and scalable object storage at a fraction of the cost of many alternatives.

Moving from SmugMug to Amazon S3 is straightforward when using the right tools. In this comprehensive guide, you'll learn how to set up an S3 bucket, organize your files, leverage automation to transfer the files securely, and configure S3 to meet your specific access, security and compliance needs.

Understanding SmugMug and Amazon S3

To understand the process of moving data between the two services, it's helpful to first understand their key capabilities and use cases:

SmugMug is a paid photo hosting and sharing service aimed at photographers. Key features include unlimited storage, custom domain names, ecommerce, and photo printing options.

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) provides affordable, scalable cloud storage that can be accessed anywhere. Amazon handles infrastructure reliability and durability behind the scenes.

Both services enable storage, organization, backup and sharing of large libraries of photos and videos. However, Amazon S3 provides more flexibility and lower prices at scale.

Similarities and Differences Between SmugMug and Amazon S3

Feature SmugMug Amazon S3
Storage capacity Unlimited Virtually unlimited
File durability Multiple backups 99.999999999% durability
Availability 99.9% SLA Up to 99.99% availability
Security Encryption in transit and at rest Encryption in transit and at rest options
Photo features Facial recognition, custom printing None built-in
Sharing features Collections for sharing groups Share via URL links
Cost factor Higher monthly price Pay-as-you-go pricing

Pros and Cons of Storing Photos and Videos in SmugMug vs Amazon S3

SmugMug Pros

  • Designed specifically for photographers
  • Unlimited storage included
  • Facial recognition and organization tools
  • Ability to create photo books, prints, merchandise

SmugMug Cons

  • More expensive long term than S3
  • Limited configuration options
  • No API/automation capabilities

Amazon S3 Pros

  • Extremely low storage pricing
  • Infinitely scalable
  • Complete access control configuration ability
  • Automate via API/SDK

Amazon S3 Cons

  • Setup and configuration requires more effort
  • No built-in photo management features
  • Pricing complexity to understand

Prerequisites for Moving Photos and Videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3

Before moving your files from SmugMug to Amazon S3, complete the following prerequisites:

  • Have an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account
  • Understand monthly and long term storage pricing in S3
  • Have AWS CLI installed locally and configured
  • Have a SmugMug account to move files from
  • Organize SmugMug library naming conventions

Completing the prerequisites ensures you select optimal S3 storage tiers based on access patterns and enables automation.

Setting Up an Amazon S3 Bucket to Receive Files

The first step is setting up an S3 bucket properly to receive all your SmugMug content. Follow these steps:

  1. Sign into the AWS management console
  2. Navigate to S3 and click Create bucket
  3. Provide a globally unique bucket name
  4. Select the desired AWS region
  5. Append tags with ownership info
  6. Enable versioning to protect against unintended overwrites

Repeat for secondary backup buckets in a different region if desired.

Configuring Permissions for Your Amazon S3 Bucket

Since data security is crucial when storing important photos and videos, properly configure access control policies on your S3 bucket.

By default all new S3 buckets are private, but explicitly define access roles using Bucket Policies. For example, grant full access just to AWS accounts under your control.

Use least privilege permissions and deny all by default to maximize security. Leverage access control lists and S3 Object Lock for additional protection if applicable.

Enabling Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) on Amazon S3

To display or access S3 object data from within website code such as JavaScript, enable the CORS configuration:

  1. In bucket permissions tab, edit CORS configuration
  2. Paste sample rules to enable GET requests from web
  3. Save changes

This allows hosting public galleries or using services that retrieve images stored in Amazon S3.

Creating Folders and Organizing Your Amazon S3 Bucket

Best practice is to organize your S3 data similar to filesystem conventions. Logically separate images into folder prefixes for categories like:

  • Original high resolution files
  • Edited final images
  • Client deliverables
  • Test files
  • Archive material

Assign permissions or retention rules on groups instead of individual objects. Mimic your existing SmugMug album structures.

Optionally activate S3 Object Tags to categorize storage for analysis and automation.

Downloading and Installing the AWS CLI

To synchronize data from SmugMug to Amazon S3 efficiently, leverage the AWS Command Line Interface:

  1. Download AWS CLI v2 .msi installer
  2. Run through installer prompts
  3. Choose default location for installation

Alternatively use an AWS CloudShell if available. The AWS CLI enables powerful automation for transferring files using scripts.

Configuring the AWS CLI with Access Keys

Before using AWS CLI commands with S3, configure authentication:

aws configure
Default region name: us-east-1
Default output format: json

Create IAM access keys within your AWS account if not already provisioned. Specify the destination S3 bucket's region.

Uploading Photos and Videos to Your Amazon S3 Bucket

Test connectivity by manually uploading a few SmugMug files to S3 using the AWS CLI:

aws s3 cp sample-image.jpg s3://your-bucket/folder/

The aws s3 cp subcommand copies local files and directories to your S3 bucket as specified.

Optionally apply encryption, ACL permissions, or enable multipart upload parallelization for large files.

Using the AWS CLI Sync Command to Transfer Files

To move entire SmugMug directories containing gigabytes of images, leverage aws s3 sync instead of copying individually:

awss3 sync . s3://destination-bucket/path/

This synchronizes the contents of your local file directory with specified locations in S3, while minimizing data transfer using sync logic.

Automate sync jobs on a schedule to propagate new exports from SmugMug galleries automatically.

Setting up a Transfer Acceleration Endpoint

If moving data across large geographical distances, enable S3 Transfer Acceleration to increase transfer speed leveraging Amazon CloudFront globally distributed edge caches.

To take advantage of transfer acceleration, configure your aws cli profile:

aws configure set use_accelerate_endpoint true

Now data upload traffic is routed through the high bandwidth Amazon backbone network dramatically speeding up transfers.

Enabling Versioning On Your Amazon S3 Bucket

As an extra precaution when deleting SmugMug originals after verification, enable S3 Versioning on destination buckets.

This preserves file copies if originals need to be restored, protecting against unintended permanent data loss due to application errors or user mistakes.

With versioning enabled, data can be easily recovered when necessary maintaining multiple variants.

Using Third-Party Sync Tools Instead of the AWS CLI

While the native AWS CLI provides robust sync features, developers may prefer alternative solutions:


  • Open source command line program
  • Supports numerous cloud storage providers
  • Powerful configuration and filtering

Cloudberry Explorer

  • GUI and command line options
  • Optimized S3 client features
  • Scheduling capabilities

Both support encryption, multipart uploads and S3 object lock compatibility.

Handling Partial Uploads and Interruptions

When dealing with thousands of image and video files, failed or interrupted uploads can occur due to various issues like network disruptions or errors.

Configure S3 multipart uploads with a minimum file threshold of 5MB, which enables failed uploads to resume where it left off through 100 retry attempts automatically.

The S3 sync command also maintains state to handle partial file transfers efficiently in failover scenarios.

Verifying File Integrity in Amazon S3

Before removing your original SmugMug library files, double check everything migrated properly into S3 including:

  • Folder structures matches
  • All files present in both sources
  • S3 and SmugMug CRC checksums match
  • No corrupted/incomplete files
  • A sample of images and videos open successfully

Use S3 inventory reports and AWS CLI sync differencing to verify accuracy. This ensures no data corruption or gaps occurred.

Deleting the Original Files in SmugMug

Upon full verification of accurate data synchronization into Amazon S3 matching your SmugMug library structure, last step is safely deleting the original SmugMug files to avoid duplicate charges and orphaned data.

Note this is an irreversible operation once S3 versioning is disabled. Alternatively keep SmugMug backup online archiving the library there.

Security Considerations for Amazon S3 Buckets

Since private media contains sensitive intellectual property and personal information, it's crucial to implement proper controls. Follow security best practices:

  • Enforce least privilege bucket rules and object permissions
  • Encrypt data with AES-256 both inflight and at rest
  • Block public access with S3 Block Public Access
  • Enable S3 Object Lock for retention rules
  • Use IAM roles over direct credentials

Also enable API call logging for visibility and monitor unauthorized requests.

Setting up Encryption for Files Stored in Amazon S3

Encryption protects files integrity and privacy both inflight and server-side through:

  • TLS encrypted transport between client and S3
  • Configurable AES-256 encryption at rest

Enable encryption by default using the aws cli:

aws configure setdefault.sse AES256

Files are now encrypted automatically on upload transparently encrypting data writes server-side.

Use customer master keys for managing cryptography centrally even across accounts.

Using Bucket Policies to Restrict Access

Instead of individually assigning IAM user access to objects protected resources centrally through bucket policies.

This allows naming specific aws accounts, users or roles able to access any data within bucket path prefixes.

For example, explicitly deny uploads from anonymous public principles not in your account for stronger security:

 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": [
 "Sid": "DenyPublicUploads",
 "Effect": "Deny",
 "Principal": "*",
 "Action": "s3:PutObject",
 "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::awsexamplebucket1/*"

Tightly restrict access to root and top level folders through systematic policies.

Enabling Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

Accessing S3 content through subdomain endpoints like initially uses unencrypted http connections by default.

Encrypt all traffic using the secured HTTPS protocol instead for any public links:

  1. Enable Static Website Hosting on the S3 bucket
  2. Redirect requests to
  3. Force secure SSL connections

This protects viewing private media galleries over the public internet avoiding information disclosure through sniffing attacks scraping data in transit over unencrypted channels.

Comparison of Pricing Between SmugMug and Amazon S3

When evaluating long term costs, Amazon S3 provides significant savings over SmugMug with unlimited storage requirements.

Service Base Charge Storage Pricing Data Transfer Out
SmugMug $7.99/month Included $0.18/GB
S3 Standard Free $0.023/GB/month $0.09/GB

S3 Standard Infrequent Access and Glacier tiers discount storage costs further for less accessed archives.

Plus bandwidth savings uploading directly from mobile apps instead of via SmugMug ingestion.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

Download PicBackMan

Videos are precious memories and all of us never want to ever lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your videos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. Simply Download PicBackMan (it's free!), register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your videos are - PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all videos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don't have to ever touch it.

FAQ About Moving Photos and Videos from SmugMug to Amazon S3

Question: Is data migration from SmugMug to S3 reversible if I change my mind?

Answer: As long as SmugMug source data is kept intact, galleries can be reverted back by flipping the s3 sync directions since state is saved on both ends.

Question: Can I continue using SmugMug domain customizations after migrating storage to S3 behind the scenes?

Answer: Yes, custom SmugMug domains can still be used seamlessly with Route 53 alias pointers to S3 website endpoints for transparent redirects to domains like

Question: What are the best S3 storage classes to use for active photo libraries vs archival galleries?

Answer: Use S3 Standard for actively edited content, while leveraging Infrequent Access and Glacier for long term cold storage not needing regular access.


Migrating your SmugMug library to Amazon S3 leverages practically unlimited, affordable storage capabilities with security controls tailored to your specific compliance needs. Follow the best practices outlined here for automation, optimizations and data protection. Reach out with any questions!

World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

Backup & Transfer your Photos in Minutes

Automate backup & migration of your photos & videos with support for all top services.

(283 reviews)

Trusted by users in 125+ countries.

95,000+ PicBackMan Users

95,000+ Users Trust PicBackMan To Backup Precious Memories

money back guarantee
Kip Roof testimonial Kip Roofgoogle photos flickr
PicBackMan does exactly what it's supposed to. It's quick and efficient. It runs unobtrusively in the background and has done an excellent job of uploading more than 300GB of photos to 2 different services. After having lost a lot of personal memories to a hard drive crash, it's nice to know that my photos are safe in 2 different places.
Julia Alyea Farella testimonialJulia Alyea Farella smugmug
LOVE this program! Works better than ANY other program out there that I have found to upload thousands of pictures WITH SUB-FOLDERS to SmugMug! Thank you so much for what you do! :) #happycustomer
Pausing Motion testimonialPausingMotionsmugmug
I pointed PicBackMan at a directory structure, and next time I looked - all the photos had uploaded! Pretty cool. I use SmugMug and while I really like it, the process of creating directories in is pretty laborious when you need to make 80+ at a time. This was a breeze. Thank you!
Gavin Whitham testimonialGavin Whithamflickr
PicBackMan was really easy to setup and has been running for 3 days now backing up all my locally saved photos to Flickr. My photos are really valuable to me so it's great to be able to have them easily backed up to a secure location.
 Jim Griffin testimonialJim Griffinsmugmug
It's AWESOME!! I have tens of thousands of pictures...and they are now successfully uploaded to SmugMug, where they are safely backed up, and I can edit and organize them. If you are hesitating about using PicBackMan, hesitate no longer...try it...and you'll be glad you did!!
close icon
World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

World's #1 Free Photo/Video Uploader

PicBackMan has everything you've ever wanted to backup your photos or migrate/transfer from one account to another. No feature left behind!

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
  • Maintain Folder StructureMaintain Folder StructureUpload to your online accounts & keep your folder structure as you have it.
  • Sub-folder SupportFolders & their sub-folders are automatically picked up.
  • Smart De-dupeDe-dupes photos before uploading so you don’t have duplicate copies.
  • AutomaticPicBackMan monitors & automatically uploads from connected folders.
  • PrivacyPrivacyAll uploaded photos & videos are always marked as private by default.
  • RAW FilesComes with support for RAW files for uploads as well as transfers.

“Your pictures are scattered. PicBackMan helps you bring order to your digital memories.”

the wall street journal
close icon
One Uploader for All Services

One Uploader for All Services

PicBackMan is the only tool you will need to backup to one or more of the top online photo and video services.

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
Google Photos

Google Photos







Google Drive

Google Drive