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Block, Object, and File Storage in Cloud with Difference

Last Updated : 15 Jun, 2023
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These are all different kinds of formats that hold, store, organize, and present the data in various formats in accordance with their determining factors. In general file storage is hierarchical storage of data as seen in operating systems such as macOS. Block stores in even-spaced chunk volumes and Object storage is used only in managing data and mapping it with associated metadata.

1. Block storage

Block storage involves dividing data into fixed-sized blocks and storing them on block devices such as hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs). These blocks are accessed using low-level block-level protocols, typically through storage area networks (SANs) or direct-attached storage (DAS).

Key features of block storage include:

  • Low-level access: Blocks can be read from or written directly, allowing for efficient and fast random access.
  • Ideal for databases and transactional workloads: Block storage is commonly used for applications that require low-latency, high-performance storage, such as databases or virtual machines.


  1. Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS).
  2. Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) can be used with the managed discs service for block volumes that Azure offers.
  3. Google Cloud (Zonal persistent disk): Efficient and reliable block storage,

2. Object storage

Files are divided into little parts and dispersed over hardware in a flat structure. Instead of being maintained as files in directories or as blocks on servers, the data is divided up into discrete parts called objects and kept in a single repository with object storage. Object storage systems typically use a RESTful API for accessing and managing data.

Key features of object storage include:

  • Scalability and Durability: Object storage is highly scalable and can handle massive amounts of data. It also provides built-in redundancy and fault tolerance for data durability.
  • Flexible Metadata: Each object can have custom metadata associated with it, enabling rich data management and search capabilities.
  • Suitable for Unstructured Data: Object storage is well-suited for storing and retrieving large amounts of unstructured data, such as media files, backups, or log files.


  1. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
  2. Azure Blob Storage
  3. Google Cloud Storage buckets

3. File storage

File storage stores data as files and presents it to its final users as a hierarchical directories structure. It is typically accessed using file-level protocols like Network File System (NFS) or Server Message Block (SMB). File storage can be implemented using network-attached storage (NAS) devices or distributed file systems.

Key features of file storage include:

  • Shared access: Multiple clients or systems can access and modify files concurrently, making them suitable for collaboration and shared file systems.
  • File-level operations: File storage provides operations at the file level, such as read, write, and modify, making it compatible with traditional file-based applications and workflows.
  • Metadata support: File systems often support metadata attributes associated with files, such as permissions, timestamps, and file attributes.


  1. Amazon Elastic File System (EFS)
  2. Azure Files
  3. Google Cloud Filestore

Differences between them are as follows:

Storage Type Block Storage  Object Storage File Storage
Data Structure Fixed-sized blocks  Objects  Hierarchical files
Access Method Low-level block access  RESTful API  File-level protocols
Data Access Random access  Object-based access File-based access
Use Cases  Databases, VMs, high-performance applications  Unstructured data, backups, media files  Shared file systems, file-based applications
Scalability  Limited by device capacity  Highly scalable  Scalable
Redundancy  Depends on RAID or replication configurations  Built-in redundancy  Depends on the file system and configurations
Metadata   Limited metadata  Rich metadata support  Metadata support
Concurrent Access Limited shared access  Concurrent access for objects  Shared access to files
Protocols SAN, DAS  RESTful API (e.g., S3)  NFS, SMB, DFS

Conclusion: Block storage offers low-level access and is commonly used for high-performance applications, object storage provides scalability and flexibility for managing unstructured data, and file storage offers shared access and compatibility with file-based applications. The choice among these storage types depends on the specific requirements and characteristics of your system design.

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