Object Storage

Object storage holds data in small pieces called objects and is useful for storing large amounts of unstructured data. Object storage is the most recent of the three main forms of data storage. It’s very affordable and scalable because it can store more data in any form. Many cloud service providers offer cloud object storage, including AWS, IBM, and Google.

Benefits and drawbacks of object storage

Object storage uses a specific identifier for each object (typically a set of numbers) and metadata about the object to make data easier to retrieve. Object storage is also easy to access because it doesn’t use different levels to categorize objects. Everything is stored in a flat pool.

Because it holds data in any form, object storage provides businesses with a scalable method of storing their information. It’s a good option for cloud storage, too, especially for applications that run in the cloud. Object-stored data can be difficult to edit within storage, however, so it’s a better choice for companies that are storing a lot of data at rest. But businesses that need to regularly make changes to their data may find object storage a bit more time-consuming.

File and block storage

The other two main forms of storage are file and block. File storage organizes files into hierarchies based on directories and folders, similar to the way a computer stores data. It’s a good option for storing very organized data, but it typically isn’t capable of storing extremely large amounts.

Block storage holds data in blocks, which come back together when they’re brought out of storage. Block storage allows users to quickly edit data within the storage. It’s helpful for businesses that need to frequently make changes to their stored data; however, it doesn’t store unstructured or raw data.

While file storage is a great resource for holding structured and contained pieces of data, it’s not very scalable. Block storage is useful for businesses that need to make frequent changes to their data, but its flexibility is limited because it cannot store raw data. Object storage is both scalable and flexible, offering users ample storage, but isn’t as good with structured database-type data. Some storage vendors have attempted to get around the limits of storage protocols by offering unified storage that bridges the different forms of storage.

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a writer for Webopedia.com, Enterprise Storage Forum, and CIO Insight. She covers data storage systems and data management, information technology security, and enterprise software solutions.
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