Written on August 10, 2022

AWS Unfuzziness

Well, I suppose it’s high time for a Rant, don’t you think? Given the amount of time that I have wasted on AWS account management in the past month, I thought I’d write about how little enthusiasm I have for that platform right now.


I wanted to step outside my usual box and use an S3 bucket to store public weather data that I’m scraping out of wunderground.com. Utimately I want to create some Shiny apps that use this data and I wanted it to be publicly available and easy to access. So I setup a quick and dirty R scraper on a Raspberry Pi that pulls hourly weather obs from a small set of stations around the country and writes it into an S3 bucket as an RDS file.

Public Access “Bad”

The 1st problem I hit was that Amazon didn’t like that I had made my S3 bucket object publicly acessible. I wanted it to be only writable by me, but readable by “All”. I set the permissions for that and tested that it worked and shutdown for the day. The next morning I had an open ticket from AWS Support telling me that I needed to lock down my account. They didn’t give me any specifics, but I also saw that my bucket object was no longer accessible by URL link anymore.

That saga ended after I set the entire bucket (not just the object) to have the permissions I wanted. The need for this was described in a pretty opaque way, but after some trial and error, it seemed to work.

Account Login Hell

This morning I went to pull the RDS file and saw that it hasn’t been written to in a couple days. I ran the update script manually and say that it was getting an error saying that the auth credentials are bad. Now these are a key and secret combo that are passed in by the S3 connection library and hadn’t changed since I set the bucket up. So I tried to login to the AWS Management Console and received a message saying that my account had been supended.

After creating 3 issue tickets explaining that, “no, I have not forgotten my acct password” and being told, “for security reasons we cannot tell you why the account was suspended”, I think I have come up with a solution.

Don’t Use AWS

For what I’m trying to do, it’s clear AWS is overkill and unnecessary. I will find another way to make this work and in fact, if I could login to my AWS account, the 1st thing I would do is close it. However, this has been a good learning lesson for me though.

  1. Don’t rely solely on AWS (or probably ANY cloud based storage) to safeguard your data. I’ve lost 1 month’s worth of hourly weather data because I didn’t write out a local copy of the data every time I updated it. That was dumb on my part.
  2. Provisioning and administration of AWS accounts is just as much a task (maybe more even) than accessing and using the S3 objects in code. I should have known this already after some EC2 work I did 10 years ago, but I had forgotten.
  3. Amazon can piss off. Really, there are better things for me to do that fight this any further.
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