Amazon S3 storage is one of the most popular choices for content distribution. Its cloud networking can support steady media streaming with high performance. While there are storage fees and charges for each file request, the cost is very reasonable. And indeed with a few settings, you can further minimize the cost.
First of all, the Amazon S3 storage offers 2 different categories of memory mode: standard storage and reduced redundancy storage. When you first set up your S3 account (registration is free), your account will be set to the standard storage mode by default. If you can accept lower level of file performance and accurateness (actually a tiny difference between 99.99% and 99.99999%), using the reduced redundancy storage, which is cheaper, would be adequate for general purposes.
Are you hosting web images on Amazon S3? As you already know, each file request costs money. If you allow images to download from Amazon S3 every time a page loads, the cost can be significant in a long run. Therefore you should enable image caching on your site, so that the local copy of the file stored by the browser is used instead.
When setting up your S3 account, you can save money by choosing a lower price region. In addition, if you are copying or moving files from one bucket to another one, always issue the command to effect the changes within the server. Otherwise there will be fees if files are transferred through your local computer.
Amazon S3 storage can be a vital component for websites of any scale. If you require low level of 3rd party storage, you may also consider other free alternatives such as Dropbox or Box.net. They both offer practical storage solutions.