Cloud Storage on AWS: Choosing the Right Solution

Cloud Storage on AWS: Choosing the Right Solution

As data volumes continue to explode, storage management has emerged as a critical component in the information technology landscape. Cloud storage has proved itself as an efficient and scalable solution. Let's delve into the core concepts of cloud storage and discuss the different types of storage provided by AWS, to help you select the right service for your needs.

How Does Storage Work in AWS?

Cloud storage functions by stashing data on remote servers that can be accessed via the internet. These servers are typically operated by third-party cloud service providers, who charge customers for the utilized storage capacity.

There are three fundamental operations in cloud storage – writing (uploading data), reading (downloading data), and deleting data. Some systems also allow modifications to parts of a file without needing to read or write the entire file. Cloud storage solutions can be grouped into three main categories: object storage, file storage, and block storage.

What are the 3 Types of Storage in AWS?

AWS provides a comprehensive suite of storage services that support object, block, and file storage.

Object Storage

Object storage treats data as objects, each with a unique identifier. These objects are stored in a flat address space, making it ideal for unstructured data like photos, videos, and log files. Object storage is highly scalable and is perfect for data archiving, backup, and content distribution.

The principal object storage service in AWS is Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). It provides unlimited storage space and can store objects up to 5 terabytes in size. S3 is widely recognized for its durability, scalability, and security features, making it suitable for a broad range of applications.

File Storage

File storage organizes data in a hierarchical structure, typically in files and folders. It supports shared access from multiple clients and is best for use cases such as content management, development environments, and media workflows.

Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) and Amazon FSx are AWS’s primary file storage services. EFS is a scalable and fully-managed NFS file system, while FSx offers fully managed third-party file systems.

Block Storage

Block storage splits a volume into individual data blocks, each with a unique address. It is ideal for workloads where the application needs to control the data as if it were locally attached storage, such as databases and boot volumes.

AWS’s primary block storage service is Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). It provides persistent block-level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. AWS also offers instance storage, ephemeral storage directly attached to the compute instance.

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Storage Services in AWS

When it comes to storing data in the cloud, AWS offers a wide array of services to cater to different use cases, performance needs, and budget constraints. Each of these AWS storage services brings its unique blend of features, making AWS a versatile platform that can handle virtually any cloud storage needs. Selecting the appropriate service depends on the specific requirements of your workloads and applications. Let's deep dive into these services and understand how each can be applied to meet your storage needs.

Amazon Elastic Block Store

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is a high-performance block storage service designed for use with Amazon EC2 instances. It provides persistent block-level storage volumes that can be attached to EC2 instances. It's suitable for workloads that require low latency, such as databases and boot volumes. EBS volumes offer features like snapshot capabilities and the ability to increase volume size without downtime.

Here's a Guide to Automating EBS Snapshots for Disaster Recovery in AWS.

Amazon Elastic File System

Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) is a fully managed, scalable file storage solution for use with AWS Cloud services and on-premises resources. It supports Network File System versions 4.0 and 4.1 (NFSv4) protocols and is an excellent choice for use cases requiring shared file storage, such as content management systems and development environments.

Amazon FSx for Lustre

Amazon FSx for Lustre is a fully managed, high-performance, scalable file storage for compute-intensive workloads such as high-performance computing, machine learning, and media data processing workflows. It's designed to provide fast processing for large datasets and integrates seamlessly with S3.

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server provides fully managed, reliable, and scalable file storage that is accessible over the industry-standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. It's designed to support a broad range of enterprise workloads, including home directories, web serving, and content management.

If you're interested in a deep dive of FSx for Windows, read this article: Effectively Using Amazon FSX: A Managed File Server for Windows.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, durability, and availability. It's designed to make web-scale computing easier by providing a simple web service interface to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It's used for backup and restore, archival, content distribution, and more.

Learn more about S3 with The Ultimate Guide to Amazon S3 Storage.

AWS Backup

AWS Backup is a fully managed backup service that simplifies the process of backing up data across multiple AWS services. It provides centralized backup activity tracking, compliance monitoring, and offers support for application-consistent backups. You can automate and manage backups across AWS services, including EBS volumes, RDS databases, DynamoDB tables, EFS file systems, and more.

AWS Storage Gateway

AWS Storage Gateway is a hybrid cloud storage service that provides on-premises applications with seamless, low-latency access to virtually unlimited cloud storage. It integrates with your existing applications via standard storage protocols and provides cost-effective, secure, and durable cloud storage for backup, disaster recovery, and data archiving.

Cloud Storage Requirements and Considerations

When deciding on a cloud storage solution, there are several key factors to consider.

Durability and Availability

Durability is the likelihood that an object will remain intact over a given period, while availability is the ability to access that object when needed. S3 provides 99.999999999% (11 9's) durability and up to 99.99% availability, making it a reliable choice for important data. EBS volumes also offer high durability by automatically replicating within their Availability Zone.


AWS provides a variety of security features to protect your data. These include data encryption at rest and in transit, access controls via AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and logging and monitoring via AWS CloudTrail and Amazon CloudWatch.

In addition, AWS offers services like AWS Key Management Service (KMS) for key management and AWS Certificate Manager for SSL/TLS certificates.


Understanding the different storage options provided by AWS is key to ensuring that your storage solution effectively meets your needs. By considering factors such as the type of data you're dealing with, the required performance, and the need for scalability and security, you can make an informed choice about which AWS storage service is right for you. Whether you're dealing with object, file, or block data, AWS has a storage solution that can handle your workloads.

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