What are file, block, and object storage and what are their common uses?

 There are three types of storage options for you to choose from: File, block and object. File and block are relatively older storage options that IT departments and solution providers are familiar with. Before choosing between the three cloud backup solutions, it is important to identify each one.

Defining File, Block and Object Storage

File Storage

File is typically structure in a file system; it’s a simplified hierarchical way of organizing files. This allows individual files to be located using the path to that file. Certain attributes of the file and information about the file and its contents such as its owner, who has access to the file, its size are conveniently stored in the metadata of the file system. Scale out Network Attached Storage (NAS) is the best way to share files securely among users on a network. For an enterprise, it’s the best backup appliance that secures data and speed up data sharing within the network.

Block Storage

Block is a chunk of data, the combination of these chunks leads to the formation of a file. A block has an address and the application calls a block by making a SCSI call to that address. It is an infinitesimal way of controlling storage space. Unlike NAS, the application decides where the data is placed and how it’s organized. The application also decides how the blocks are combined or accessed. There is no metadata associated with block storage; the only metadata is the address. Arguably, even that address is not metadata.

In other words, the block is a chunk of data that has no description, association or ownership associated to it. The chunk only makes sense when it’s combined with other chunks to form a file. This granular level of storage makes it the better option between file storage and block storage. The best backup appliance solution associated with block storage is Storage Area Network (SAN).

Object Storage

Object is referred to a bundle that comprises of data along with all its metadata. The object is given an ID; this ID is typically calculated using the content of that object. An object is always called using this ID. Unlike file systems, objects are stored in a flat structure. The structure contains a collection of objects and each object can be called using its relevant ID. Regardless of whether the object is local or geographically separate, access is the same for both. The uniqueness of object storage is that it allows users to define metadata as they wish. This opens up vast opportunities for analytics.

Object storage provides simplistic ways of analyzing and managing storage.

Common Use Cases of File, Block & Object Storage

As each storage type has its benefits and drawbacks, each is suitable for a certain situation. These are the commonly use cases of each storage types.


Each enterprise has customized requirements for their backup and disaster recovery plan. Each storage type has different benefits and drawbacks. File storage is a file system with a hierarchical setup of files, each file is accessed using a path address and associated information is stored in the form of metadata. Block storage comprises of chunks of data that combine to form a file. The only associated information this chunk has is its address, which barely qualifies as metadata. Object storage refers to a bundle that comprises of the data bundled with all associated information.

Each storage type fits different type of storage requirements. Based on their differences, each storage type has a type of backup appliance that works efficiently with it.