You’re tempting fate if your company doesn’t have a reliable data backup strategy. Your servers and hard drives’ physical storage capacity is finite, and if they crash, you could be in big trouble.
Luckily, your data can now be stored securely and easily at all times thanks to cloud storage. There are numerous platforms and price tiers available in the cloud, and what’s great is that no physical equipment is needed on your end.
In other words, you’re sure to find a cloud service that satisfies what you’re looking for.
But, do you know about the 3 general types of cloud storage services? Don’t panic if not – let’s dive in and find out which is the best one for you.
What Does The Term ‘Cloud Storage’ Refer To?
With dozens of storage services available out there, cloud storage is another one to look out for. It’s basically where providers offer storage space (and maintenance) for you and supply it on demand. But, what makes it different, and why is there a widespread transition of major corporations to the cloud platform?
Well, cloud storage provides a lot of people with a virtual infrastructure that is highly accessible, scalable, and customizable. Unlike physical storage, which requires several devices and servers in different locations, cloud storage keeps data in virtual online servers that are maintained by internal and external providers.
In short, your data is basically just transferred from a physical device to online servers – pretty neat, right?
But, cloud storage operates in different ways with various cloud computing models:
- Object storage
- File storage
- Block storage
So, let’s have a look at the three types and how they handle data.
What Is Object Storage?
Object storage, as the name implies, stores data in independent containers called objects. Included in these objects can be virtually any sort of data, including text, audio, video, PDFs, website data, and other file types.
You can also assign a unique identifier (unique ID) to a single item and store it in a flat database. And, this matters for a few reasons.
The main reason is that information is considerably easier to find in a huge pool of data, since you can retrieve an item from the storage by merely supplying its unique ID. The information might be physically kept on a nearby server or on a distant server located thousands of miles away, stored in the cloud. This flat address structure basically makes it so much easier to access unstructured data.
Metadata also benefits greatly in terms of flexibility from object-based storage. For example, you can modify the metadata of a file so that it matches resources with particular programs. You can choose how important an application is, move items around your storage space, and even get rid of things you no longer want or need.
So, with this amazing storage system, let’s take a look at the most common ways people use it:
- For backup and recovery from disasters after natural calamities or damage
- For keeping a lot of emails
- For managing IoT data
- For a cost-effective way of storing a lot of videos, pictures, and other huge media files
But while this type of storage is great, it isn’t perfect.
For one, the lack of a file-locking mechanism is its main drawback. What this means is that anyone with access to your hardware device or cloud storage can manage your objects. So, if someone manages to get unauthorized access, you may risk losing your files.
Another thing is that one could argue that other storage types (which we’ll talk about later on), are much better in terms of performance and are way faster than object storage.
Then, What Is File Storage?
The old-school method of storing data is called file storage.
Just like old things, it’s about as straightforward as it gets. You basically just name your files, label them with metadata, and then organize them into folders within directories and subdirectories.
And, thanks to this standard naming system, data is relatively easy to arrange, and sharing at the local level is made simple by storage systems like Network Attached Storage (NAS). If all you need is a location to store and distribute files in the office, file-level storage is the way to go.
With that information, a lot of businesses nowadays are turning to file storage for a centralized and convenient method for file and folder storage. You pretty much have a hierarchical system that specializes in processing relatively tiny volumes of data. What’s also great is that since things are a little bit more hands-off, these benefits can be obtained at a price that’s often within the reach of even the smallest of businesses.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common uses for file storage:
- For migrating applications and media processing
- To make it easier for documents to be shared
- For database backup and recovery
- For preserving/archiving records for legal compliance or historical reasons
Any IT administrator who has managed this kind of design, however, can undoubtedly speak about its flaws. Yes, technically you are allowed to create and store an infinite amount of files. But with time, just locating those files becomes a tremendous effort.
The headache grows as you gather more files since you have to browse through a large number of folders. You must scroll through hundreds of documents just to find the one that you’re looking for, which is pretty taxing and time-consuming.
Finally, What Is Block Storage?
Block storage divides data into blocks (get it?), and keeps them in different storages. This storage system can then store the smaller chunks of data from the user’s operating system and distribute it across several operating systems that can serve the data better.
When the data is needed, the block storage reassembles the data blocks back together from the different systems and displays them to you. For instance, some types of data can be saved on a Windows device and some can be stored in a Linux system.
So, because block storage isn’t reliant on just one route for data like file storage, files can be retrieved quicker. Basically, each block exists independently and can be partitioned so that it’s accessible under a different operating system, giving you complete control over how your data is configured. This makes it easy to set up and organize your data, and offers an effective and dependable method for data storage.
But, when exactly is this type of storage used? Let’s take a look at some cases below:
- For utilizing Virtual Machine File Systems (VMFS)
- For handling and archiving transactional databases
- For storing massive amounts of email
However, there are some drawbacks. Because of its limited capacity to manage metadata, block storage systems must be handled at the application or database level, which could be a concern for a developer or systems administrator.
Not only that, but it’s also a lot more expensive compared to the other types of cloud storage. This makes it a turnoff for some people, especially small businesses with budget constraints.
Which Type Of Cloud Storage Is Best For Me?
Cloud storage has grown in popularity as a backup and recovery solution. But, you still may be wondering which is the best type of cloud storage to use. Well, it all depends on your wants and needs, and there isn’t a one-type fits-all.
So, let’s take a look at some of the factors you should consider, so you can easily choose from one of the best cloud storage services out there.
- Uses for storage
Each type of storage is best suited for specific use cases and workflows. You can choose the type that best matches your needs by being aware of each storage’s unique requirements. For instance, block or file storage can be helpful if you have a lot of information that team members must frequently access and modify. On the other hand, object storage can work best for you if you just have a bunch of unstructured data that you want to store.
Considering the higher expenses associated with block and file storage, many businesses opt for object storage when dealing with large amounts of data.
- Volume and retrievability
All three modes of storage allow for relatively easy data retrieval, but file and object storage are frequently the most convenient due to their very simple interfaces. So, the top option for large amounts of data is object storage because of the metadata and advanced search capabilities.
And, file storage with its hierarchical organizational structure, is more suitable for smaller data volumes. Block storage, on the other hand, is great at handling a lot of data but has limited search capabilities, so large amounts of block data won’t be as easy to manage compared to the other types.
- Managing metadata
Although file storage has very basic metadata, object storage is often best suited for files with crucial metadata. Meanwhile, block storage is less useful for storing unstructured data since it lacks metadata.
And there you have it! You now have a better understanding of the applications, benefits, and drawbacks of various storage options to direct your next move within the ecosystem of cloud storage.
Storing Data The Right Way On The Cloud
As we continue to rely on new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), the amount of data will keep on growing at a rapid pace, making storage a primary concern.
Fortunately, with our guide, you now know about cloud storage and its different types. By carefully analyzing what type of storage suits your needs and preferences, you’ll have a reliable and efficient way to store all your data.