Choosing the Best Cloud Storage: Object vs. File vs. Block

About 85 percent of companies have already adopted the cloud in some capacity. Despite this, few people understand how the cloud works or even the type of service they have.

Take cloud storage, for example. Many businesses make use of the cloud to store data. Very few business leaders would be able to tell you what type of cloud storage they have, and what the differences are between types.

There are three major types, and the best cloud storage type might just depend on what you plan to do with the cloud.

This guide takes a look at object, file, and block storage to help you understand which one is right for your needs.

File Cloud Storage

File storage is probably the most familiar type of cloud storage available. It’s the most user-friendly as well.

This type of storage will look most like your local hard disk. Data is stored in files. Files, in turn, are stored in folders.

These folders are then arranged in directories and subdirectories. This makes it easy to name, rename, delete, and otherwise manage data.

File storage has two primary advantages. The first is familiarity with the system. Everyone who has ever used an operating system is familiar with file storage.

The second advantage of this type of cloud storage is file sharing. This feature gives the cloud an edge over local hard disk storage.

File storage does have its downsides. One is that, if you plan to have more data in the future, the hierarchy may become unwieldy. That can slow your system down significantly.

Object Cloud Storage

Object storage is another common type of cloud storage. In some ways, it could be likened to file storage, in that data is structured into an “object.”

The object has a unique identifier, somewhat like how your file has a name. That’s about where the similarities end though.

Objects also have metadata or data about data. This might include geographic information on photographs. For a book, it might include the author’s name.

Together, the data, the metadata, and the identifier make up the object.

Many cloud providers use object data storage. The reason is simple. Object storage allows you to store massive amounts of unstructured data and retrieve it with ease.

One reason for that is the flat structure of the storage. Everything is on the same “level,” so to speak, so it’s faster to sort through. Your system also spends less space determining the hierarchy.

Metadata makes it easy to find and retrieve data. You can think of metadata like a set of labels, which you can customize. Metadata can be rewritten, expanded upon, and reorganized, which means it’s also highly scalable.

The use of metadata makes object storage particularly useful for archiving. It makes it possible to implement your own criteria for data retention, deletion, and more.

Block Cloud Storage

Finally, there’s block storage. Under this system, data is broken up into “blocks,” which can be stored across a physically distributed system. Blocks receive a unique identifier to make it easy to call them up when they’re needed.

Block storage is usually fast and reliable. Its lack of metadata limits the flexibility of the organization, so you can’t restructure and rearrange data on a whim. Block storage can also be more expensive, largely due to the fact it can be more complex to manage.

What’s the Best Cloud Storage Type?

The best cloud storage type really depends on your business needs. What kind of data do you have and what do you want to do with it? What kind of budget do you have?

Block storage, as mentioned, tends to be more complex. It usually has a higher price tag attached. Nonetheless, it’s preferred for transaction-based business applications. It’s also popular for database storage.

Block storage may also be the right solution if you’re using virtualization or want to store data from critical business systems.

What about object storage? This is usually a good choice for businesses with plenty of multimedia assets, such as film or photography archives. The use of metadata makes it easy to organize and reorganize the archives.

It’s also relatively cheap, especially when compared with block storage. It may also be the right choice if you want to create a disaster recovery protocol.

Finally, file storage could be the right choice if you have small amounts of structured data. An example might be an office directory or a content repository for your business.

You may also consider file storage if you use web-based applications.

What’s Best for the Budget?

Generally speaking, block storage is the most expensive type of cloud storage available. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you’ll likely want to look at file and object storage. The good news is that block storage is more specialized, so if you just want to archive data, this isn’t a problem.

File storage can be more affordable, but object storage is usually the best choice. Why is that?

Object storage and file storage offer similar systems. Object storage comes with some serious advantages.

The use of metadata makes it much more useful and scalable. If you need to archive any unstructured data, then object storage should be your choice.

It’s also usually faster and more reliable. There’s a reason it’s preferred for disaster recovery. It’s even a better choice for managing your obligations under new data protection and privacy legislation.

On top of that, cheap S3 storage makes this type of cloud storage the absolutely right choice if budget is a concern.

Get on Cloud Nine with the Best Cloud Storage

The best cloud storage type always depends on your needs as a business. If your biggest concern is security, compliance, or budget, then object storage is likely the best fit.

The right cloud technology is important for every business leader today, no matter how large or small their organization.

Wondering about cybersecurity, data protection, or other tech topics? We’ve got plenty of insightful articles to help you keep your business safe, secure, and growing.

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