Every business has particular needs. One may need to share content; the other needs to process a huge database of sales metrics or archive data. Although cloud storage (What Is Cloud Storage? How Does It Work?) will be the ultimate solution, it is necessary to know which storage is proper for your needs. This article, Object Storage vs. File Storage vs. Block Storage, reviews and compares the most popular storage options to help you choose the best storage for your data.
Object storage or object-based storage is a flat structure containing file pieces and spreading them among the hardware. In object storage, the data is broken or divided into discrete units or objects. It is kept in a single repository rather than being kept as server blocks or in folders. Object storage volumes are modular units. They work as a self-contained repository that owns data, a specified identifier that allows objects found over a distributed system, and the metadata that describes the data.
The metadata or data about the data is infinitely customizable. It is crucial, and it includes details such as access contingencies, age, privacies, and securities. Metadata can be very detailed and capable of storing information on where a video was shot, which camera was used, who are the actors featured in each frame. When retrieving the data, the storage operating system will manipulate metadata and identifiers that distribute loads efficiently and allows administrators to apply different policies that lead to more robust searches.
The most significant advantage of object storage is storing massive amounts of unstructured data and maintaining easy data accessibility. The object storage needs a simple HTTP application programming interface (API). Object storage is cost-efficient, and the payment is based on what was used. Since it can be scaled easily, it can be perfect for public cloud storage. It is suitable for static data and agility.
Object storage’s flat nature means it can scale large quantities of data. Through this, the data will be found quickly. It is also good at storing unstructured data. Based on metadata’s unrestricted nature, it is possible to implement customized policies for data preservation, retention, and deletion. It allows creating better disaster recovery strategies.
Object storage has some drawbacks as well. It cannot be modified, and it can be written completely at once. Object storage does not work well with traditional databases, for writing objects is a slow process and writing an application for an API is not easy.
File storage is also called file-level or file-based storage. The data will be stored as a single piece of information in a folder. When the data is needed, the system must know the path to find it. Data stored in files will be organized and retrieved using a limited number of metadata that shows the exact place the file is kept.
In file storage, data will be stored in files, files in folders, folders in arranged directories, and subdirectories in a hierarchical model. The system needs the path from the directory to the subdirectory to the folder to file to access a file. It is easy to name, delete, or manipulate files without any additional interface. It is like a catalog for data files. Through this, every document is managed by a logical hierarchy. Hierarchical storage or file storage is one of the oldest and popular data storage systems for direct and network-attached storage.
The approachability is the highlighted advantage of file storage. File storage has many capabilities and can store almost anything. It is a perfect way to store complex files and is fast to navigate. Cloud-based file storage offers sharing options. The administrator can set access and editing permission. This enables easy collaboration.
The problem with file storage is that its systems must scale out by adding more systems instead of adding more capacity. If a user plans to grow data, the hierarchy and permissions will become complex, slowing down the system.
Block storage breaks data into blocks and stores them as separate pieces that can be physically distributed to maximize efficiency. Each block will have a unique identifier allowing a storage system to locate the smaller pieces of data wherever is convenient. This way, some data can be stored in a Linux environment and some in Windows units.
Block storage is often to decouple the data from the users’ environment and spread it across many environments. Once data is requested, the storage software will resemble the data blocks and show them back to the user. This is mostly deployed in a storage-area network (SAN) tied to a functioning server.
Since block storage does not rely on a single data path, it can be retrieved quickly. Each block has its own environment and can be partitioned to have easier access in different operating systems. Users will be free to configure the data. Block storage is easy, reliable, and manageable. Organizations with massive databases or enterprises with large transactions can use block storage.
One of the downsides of block storage is that it can be expensive with limited capability to handle metadata. So, it must be used at an application or database level.
Object Storage vs. File Storage vs. Block Storage: Pros and Cons
Let us have a detailed comparison between these different types of cloud storage.
File Storage vs. Block Storage
In block storage, the process is in blocks based on the request sent to the storage server. The block will be looked up in the storage location and retrieved. Then the individual bytes of the file will be returned.
In file storage, requests will be sent through a user-level data representation interface. They require users to determine file information such as URL, directory, or location. It will eliminate the need for searching or converting the file.
File storage is more familiar for users, but block storage offers greater flexibility. File storage is less customizable, and block storage can be modified. File storage is better for creating content repositories by storing smaller amounts of structured data and strong protection. Block storage is better for databases, virtualized systems, and mission-critical applications.
Object Storage vs. Block Storage
Object storage contains metadata, and block storage does not. As a result, the object storage can have context about files, and block storage will be contactless. In object storage, each piece has a specific identifier that eliminates the need to search for data by location as it is in block storage.
Both can be expanded, but object storage is more scalable only by adding more nodes to the storage cluster. But in block storage, scalability might not be accessible. Object storage provides flexibility and customizability, but it is slower than black storage.
Object storage needs the objects to be modified as a single unit, so any change requires the entire object to be rewritten. Block storage is better for applications and workflows dependent on strong performance, transactional data, and storage. Object storage is better for storing unstructured data, large data sets, and data with custom preservation, deletion, and retention policies.
There is no strictly right or wrong storage option. You need to choose the one that fits your current needs. In the article “Object Storage vs. File Storage vs. Block Storage” we tried to explain the characteristics and differences between these different storage types. To further understand which storage type is perfect for your data, check out ArvanCloud Object Storage and learn how to leverage this solution.