The root of all storage is categorized as either block, file or object, with those terms derived from how data is accessed in each mode. Files, blocks, and objects are storage formats that hold, organize, and present data in different ways.

For instance,Block storage breaks down a file into multiple blocks and stores them as separate pieces. File storage stores whole data in a folder to help and Object storage takes each piece of data and uses it as an object with each one of them having their own capabilities and limitations.

Block Storage

Block Storage

Block storage chops data into blocks, depending on block size defined and stores them as separate pieces. Each block of data is given a unique identifier, which allows a storage system to place the smaller pieces of data wherever is most convenient.

Block storage is often configured to decouple the data from the user’s environment and spread it across multiple environments that can better serve the data. And then, when data is requested, the underlying storage software reassembles the blocks of data from these environments and presents them back to the user.

Because block storage doesn’t rely on a single path to data, it can be retrieved quickly. It’s an efficient and reliable way to store data and is easy to use and manage. It works well with enterprises performing big transactions and those that deploy huge databases, meaning the more data you need to store, the better off you’ll be with block storage.

File Storage

File Storage

File storage, also called file-level or file-based storage organizes and represents data as a hierarchy of files in folders. Data is stored as a single piece of information inside a folder, just like you’d organize pieces of papers inside a folder. When you need to access that piece of data, your computer needs to know the path to find it (Beware! it can be a really long, winding path). Data stored in files is organized and retrieved using a limited amount of metadata that tells the computer exactly where the file itself is kept.

Think of a closet full of file cabinets. Every document is arranged in some type of logical hierarchy—by cabinet, by drawer, by folder, then by piece of paper. This is where the term hierarchical storage comes from, and this is file storage. File storage has broad capabilities and can store just about anything. It’s great for storing an array of complex files and is fairly fast for users to navigate.

Object Storage

Object Storage

Object storage, also known as object-based storage, is a flat structure in which files are broken into pieces and spread out among hardware. In object storage, the data is broken into discrete units called objects and is kept in a single repository, instead of being kept as files in folders or as blocks on servers.

Object storage emerged as a rival to file-access storage for large quantities of unstructured data when scale-out NAS file systems started to creak under the sheer number of files being stored.

Where file-access storage with its hierarchical file structure can get cumbersome as it grows, object storage brings a “flat” structure with equal access to all objects held, making it eminently suitable for large volumes of unstructured data.