How Amazon S3 Buckets Work

S3 buckets provide users with ways to easily house and organize objects. Learn more about how S3 buckets work.

Table of Contents:

What Are S3 Buckets? 

S3 Buckets are public cloud storage containers for objects stored in simple storage service (S3). S3 buckets can be likened to file folders and object storage. Each object stored by buckets has three main components: the object’s content (data), the object’s metadata (which includes object size, name, last modified date, and URL), and the object’s unique identifier. 

Objects meant for storage in the cloud cannot be independent. That’s where the need for buckets comes in. Each S3 account can have hundreds of buckets, and there can be hundreds of objects in each bucket. Additionally, S3 buckets are equipped with a user-friendly interface that allows users to store and retrieve data from anywhere on the web. 

S3 buckets aim to help enterprises and individuals achieve their data backup and delivery needs. S3 buckets also enable a large amount of data to be stored and accessed later through cloud storage. Most data stored by enterprises in S3 buckets is for big data analytics, disaster recovery, dynamic websites, and user-generated content, among other uses. Some enterprises also use S3 buckets to host static HTML websites and dynamically complex web applications. 

How to Use S3 Buckets? 

To use S3 buckets, you must first create a bucket in the region of your choice. The bucket must then be given a globally unique name. To reduce cost and latency, it’s advised to choose a location that’s closer to you. 


After creating a bucket, you must choose your S3 storage class for data storage. Choosing a storage class depends on the level of functionality, accessibility, redundancy, and price. However, it’s important to note that a bucket can store objects from any storage class. 

Once your storage class has been identified, you can then proceed to specify access privileges for the objects in your bucket. This is easily done through access control lists, bucket policies, and your chosen identity and access management service. You can also interact with S3 buckets via APIs, command-line interfaces, or management consoles. 

How to Create S3 Buckets? 

We’ve discussed creating a bucket, choosing a region, deciding on storage class, and specifying access privileges, but  doing all the above requires a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the S3 console for successful bucket creation. In the sections that follow, we’ll provide an in-depth user guide detailing S3 bucket creation and access. 

Navigating the S3 Console 

When creating S3 buckets, the first step is to log in to the console. To do that, click here 

You can sign in using the “Root User” option or the “IAM user” option. If you do not have an existing account, click on “Create a new AWS account.” Then, click the “login” button to enter the correct details. 

Name Your Bucket 

To create a bucket, you must start by naming it. Once signed in, click on “Create Bucket” and then proceed to enter bucket name. When choosing a bucket name, follow the steps below: 

  • The name must be unique 
  • It should not have uppercase characters 
  • It must begin with a lowercase number or letter 
  • It must be between 3–63 characters long 

Once a bucket name is chosen, you cannot change it. 

Select Region 

The next step is to choose the region where you want your S3 bucket to reside. Unless they are explicitly transferred, objects in your chosen region will remain where they are. To reduce cost and address regulatory requirements and latency, choosing a location closer to you is best. 

Determine ownership 

After deciding on a region, it’s time to determine ownership. This allows you to either grant data access to other users or assume full control and ownership of all objects in your bucket. 

Upload Object 

Once you have successfully created a bucket, the next step is to upload objects into your bucket. This refers to data you want to store in the bucket by objects. This can be music, video, picture, or textual files. To upload objects, follow the steps below: 

  • Open the S3 console 
  • Choose the bucket into which you want to upload your object 
  • Select upload in the objects tab 
  • Select add files under files and folder 
  • Pick your choice of file, then click open 
  • Click upload and your file will be uploaded successfully into the bucket 

To upload other files, repeat the same process. 

Access Object 

To access objects already stored in the buckets, follow the steps below: 

  • Open the S3 console 
  • Click on the bucket with the list of objects you want to access 
  • Locate the folder that contains the object 

Set Accessibility 

This refers to the process of making objects in S3 buckets publicly accessible for recovery and other usages. To do this, follow the steps below: 

  • Open the S3 console 
  • Click the bucket with the list of objects you want to make accessible 
  • Locate the folder that contains the object 
  • Select all objects you want to make public from the list 
  • Click “Actions” and then click “make public” 
  • The object URL should now be publicly accessible 

How to Access S3 Buckets 

Using the S3 console, you can access your buckets and perform needed operations without having to enter a single line of code. 

Virtual Hosted-Style Access 

To access a bucket in virtual –hosted-style access, the following URL format is used: 

Path-Style Access 

To access a bucket in path-style access, the following URL format is used:  

IPv6 Access 

S3 supports accessing buckets using internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). One thing to note before requesting S3 buckets access on IPv6 is that IPv6 must be enabled by the client and the network seeking to access the bucket. 

S3 Access Points 

S3 buckets can also be accessed through S3 access points. However, it’s important to note that S3 access points only support virtual hosted-style addressing. To access a bucket using S3 access points, use the following URL format: 

NOTE: All Amazon S3 screen captures and described related procedures involving the use of Amazon/Amazon S3 online resources were accurate at point of publication and may change without immediate reflection in this article.