Object Storage or Block Storage

There are a variety of approaches different cloud-based storage companies have taken when it comes to how the data you need in the cloud is actually accessed. Depending on factors like speed, type of data and more, different systems can make sense over others. Because of this, most modern cloud storage companies offer at least two very different approaches. Specifically, two popular options right now are competing schools of thought: object storage and cloud block storage.

What is Object Storage?
In the cloud, large files containing only a single function used to be tricky to store efficiently. Object storage attempts to solve that problem by treating large files very much like web data. More specifically, files stored using object storage are accessed individually using HTTP-style “links”, much like the websites you’d type into a URL. Typically, these systems work best when the data is very large in size, and only needs to be modified as a whole.

Examples of things that make a lot of sense for object storage include:

  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • Audio Files

At a very basic level, if you can’t see the file in question needing to be changed much, work within scripts, or have many components, object storage is a smart fit.

What is Block Storage?
Where object storage works like a web page (using HTTP), block storage functions more like a hard drive connected to your computers. In fact, most block storage systems are visible within your computers like a hard drive. Block storage works by assigning your company specific “blocks” at a cloud data center. Hard drives are built and measured in units called blocks, so this makes it easy to translate directly to your PCs.

This isn’t the best approach for large files that won’t be edited much, but it thrives in any application where you need to make many changes or write scripts to interact with files. Great examples of things that benefit from block storage include:

  • Databases
  • Other Forms of grouped data

Block storage makes the most sense for large data files that need to be changed, accessed frequently, or run scripts on. Companies with access to trained IT staff benefit from the greater flexibility that block storage can offer data-dependent firms.

So which is Right for Me?
There really isn’t a clear answer to this question. In fact, many businesses rely on a combination of these services, for the specific benefits each offers over the other. To clarify, a company that wants to store both video records of its presentations and sales records for the past three years would do well to store both fields of data in different types of cloud services.

There is no right answer here. If your company depends on multiple types of complex data, chances are you’re better off pursuing multiple cloud storage solutions, for the sake of flexibility, ease of use for your entire team, and security.


Cameron Smith is a writer for Nethosting. He likes to watch basketball and play with his son.


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