Skip to main content

Forcing a download prompt on files in Amazon S3

I have been battling with an ongoing problem with Amazon S3 for sometime now.

It has to do with serving video or any other media content directly from S3 to the client. Currently we have two very simple, very standard requirements:

1. Stream the video directly from S3 to Client 2. Download the video direct from S3 to Client (forcing a download prompt)

Now if you upload a video directly to S3 then simply have a link on your page to the video. By default the video will stream down. This is normal behaviour but when you want to force a download prompt it gets a tad tricky. After some investigating and experimentation I found that you could set the Content-Disposition header at upload time.

So I set was able to set this header using Bucket Explorer and it worked as expected. Problem solved? Not quite. Because the header information exists as meta data of the asset you can’t have a single asset served up two different ways.

This is a documented limitation of S3 right now as outlined in this post.

The “solution” as it seems is to create a copy (which incurs a cost) of the object and add the correct headers as required.

What this means is you end up having the same file duplicated existing twice with unique keys. I guess you would standardise a naming convention e.g.,

Admittedly the cost of copying objects in S3 is next to nothing 0.12cents / per 1000 but it adds complexity to your application as you would need to trigger some offline process to go through and create the copies setting the correct header.

The best solution would be to have a query string variable which sets the header on request. So you end up with a Url looking like this:;;

Really hoping Amazon consider adding this as a feature soon.


  1. I always enjoy learning how other people employ Amazon S3 online storage. I am wondering if you can check out my very own tool CloudBerry Explorer that helps to manage S3 on Windows . It is a freeware.

  2. A bit late, but in case anyone stumbles onto this page you can now set headers per request:


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Freeing Disk Space on C:\ Windows Server 2008

I just spent the last little while trying to clear space on our servers in order to install .NET 4.5. Decided to post so my future self can find the information when I next have to do this. I performed all the usual tasks: Deleting any files/folders from C:\windows\temp and C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData\Local\TempDelete all EventViewer logs Save to another Disk if you want to keep themRemove any unused programs, e.g. FirefoxRemove anything in C:\inetpub\logsRemove any file/folders C:\Windows\System32\LogFilesRemove any file/folders from C:\Users\%UserName%\DownloadsRemove any file/folders able to be removed from C:\Users\%UserName%\DesktopRemove any file/folders able to be removed from C:\Users\%UserName%\My DocumentsStop Windows Update service and remove all files/folders from C:\Windows\SoftwareDistributionDeleting an Event Logs Run COMPCLN.exe Move the Virtual Memory file to another disk However this wasn’t enough & I found the most space was cleared by using the Disk Cleanup to…

CPF Contribution Rates for new Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR’s)

Recently my wife and I applied and got approved for Singapore Permanent Residency. After completing the formalities the most significant immediate change is the contribution to CPF which is Singapore’s mandatory social security savings scheme requiring contributions from employers and employees. CPF contributions start from the date you obtain SPR status, which is the date of the entry permit.   Being a relentless budgeter I needed to know exactly how much I and my employer would have to contribute so that I could adjust my budget accordingly as the employee contributions get deducted from the monthly salary. After doing some research I discovered that there is a “graduated” approach to CPF contributions for new SPR’s where the contributions gradually increase in the first and second year and then upon reaching the third year are at the full amount. Note: There is an option for employers to contribute the full amount for year 1 and year 2 and the employee can use the graduated rate, b…

Implementing Custom Castle Windsor Facilities

If you’ve been following my posts you would know that I love Castle Windsor. One of the many useful features I have found is the Facility and I’m going to try and give a good example how you can make use of this. In a recent post I showed how you can add Cross-Cutting concerns to your application by using Interceptors.Now when configuring the Container you can explicitly configure each Interceptor per Service but when you have lot’s of components it can get pretty hard to maintain after a while and can also introduce subtle issues if someone forgets to configure it correctly.Below is how you would configure your Container without using a Facility. On the last line we are specifying the Interceptor explicitly. public void Configure() { container = new WindsorContainer(); container.Register( Component.For<CacheInterceptor>(), Component.For<ICacheProvider>() .ImplementedBy<WebCache…