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Object Storage vs. File Storage vs. Block Storage

What we have learned from past projects is that every company has specific, sometimes very different, requirements for a storage solution. While some companies focus on content sharing, others focus on the availability of huge and complex databases. Whatever requirements you have for your business: Understanding the different types of storage is essential to help you choose the right storage solution. Below is a summary of the three main types of storage: object, file and block storage.

Object Storage

Object Storage is a collection of data with a unique identifier and an infinite amount of metadata.

When data is added to Object Storage, it is usually given an identifier called a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) or a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). These identifiers are 128-bit integers. So this means that the identifier – the “name” of the object – is a kind of complex number. In fact, the identifier is so complex that it allows each identifier to be considered unique. Metadata is any information used to classify or characterize the data in a particular object.

The Advantages of Object Storage
The main advantages of object storage are that it allows the storage of huge amounts of unstructured data and at the same time allows easy data access.

  • Thanks to flat structure, storage of huge amounts of unstructured data is enabled.
  • Unlimited scalability through the use of GUIDs instead of the hierarchies characteristic of file or block storage
  • Thanks to the unrestricted nature of metadata, organizations are enabled to easily implement their own policies for data preservation, retention, and deletion.

The drawbacks of Object Storage
The 128-bit identifier is not user-friendly for some users – and the metadata management approach may prove too complex or inappropriate for certain use cases. Media production companies therefore often use third-party software that layers the organization schema on top of the object storage.

  • Storage of unstructured data such as multimedia files
  • Storage of large data sets
  • Storage of large amounts of media assets such as video footage as an archive instead of local tape drives
  • Sourcing out cold data to save costs

File Storage

For organizations that require a friendlier user interface but lower storage requirements, File Storage is the recommended storage solution.

With File Storage, data is stored in files. These files are in turn organized into folders, and these folders are then hierarchically organized into directories and subdirectories. To access a file, users or computers need only the path from directory to subdirectory to folder to file.

The advantages of file storage
The main advantage of file storage is the accessibility of file storage. However, using file storage in the cloud adds a key element: sharing. When storing files in the cloud, as on a single computer, an administrator can easily set access and editing permissions for files and trees, making security and version control much easier to manage. This makes it easy to share access and thus easy to collaborate.

The Disadvantages of File Storage
The disadvantage of file storage systems is that there comes a point where the hierarchy and permissions become too complex and slow the system down. This happens when data grows in the enterprise.

  • Storage of files for an office or directory in a content repository such as user profiles or group drives
  • Storage of files in a small development or data center environment that provides a low-cost option for local archiving
  • Storage of data that requires data protection and ease of deployment

Block Storage

Many cloud-based enterprise workloads currently use block storage. In this type of system, data is broken into pieces called blocks and then stored in a system that can be physically distributed to maximize efficiency. Each block is given a unique identifier that allows the storage system to reassemble the blocks when the data they contain is needed.

The Benefits of Block Storage
A block storage system is used when it is important that data can be retrieved and manipulated quickly, with an operating system directly accessing those data points across block volumes.

Block storage also decouples data from user environments, allowing that data to be distributed across multiple environments. This creates multiple paths to the data and allows the user to retrieve it quickly. When a user or application requests data from a block storage system, the underlying storage system reassembles the blocks of data and presents the data to the user or application.

The Disadvantages of Block Storage
The main disadvantages of Block Storage are the lack of metadata, which limits organizational flexibility. In addition, compared to Object Storage and File Storage solution, the higher price and complexity.

  • Storage of databases that require performance
  • Storage for RAID volumes (RAID: Redundant Array of Independent Disks)
  • Storage of data for critical systems that impact business operations

No matter which path you choose; we are happy to support you with our many years of experience and expertise.

Contact me now for an exchange. I look forward to meeting you!

Michael Trutmann

Michael Trutmann, Solution Architect & Consultant