It is essential to know what storage option is right for your business. Whether you are storing your files locally or using off-server storage solutions like object storage or block storage, they all have great features depending on your business needs. To help you choose, we will explore block storage, its basic architecture, and how it functions.
What is Block Storage?
Block storage is a data storage volume presented to a server or computing device that acts as a single hard drive. It operates very similarly to standard local storage. However, there is one notable difference. While local storage keeps all data locally on your server, block storage separates that data into a high-speed, centralized storage cluster with built-in redundancy.
All communication with block storage occurs over a network. Almost any size volume can be allocated to a server, and it is accessible over fiber channel over ethernet (FCoE) or an Internet small computer systems interface (iSCSI).
Liquid Web’s Block Storage is a highly resilient, easily portable storage solution for your critical data.
However, there are some important limitations to factor in when setting up Cloud Block Storage (CBS) as part of your solution:
"Cloud Block Storage (CBS) provides additional hard drive space for your Cloud Server with just a few clicks. The simplicity of Cloud Block Storage is that it provides you a raw block of space that you can partition to store site backups, site files, and images.
Cloud Block Storage is meant to increase storage for files and site backups, not as a host for a website, database, or for storing full server backups as the latency is much slower than your server's disk speed. If you are looking for additional space for hosting sites, please contact a Solutions team member for options to increase the size of your server.
Cloud Block Storage is not meant for images or files actively used on your sites as it can cause issues with latency and slow loading speeds. It is only meant to be used as additional storage for files not being actively used."
How Does Block Storage Work?
Files stored in a block storage system are split and organized into evenly sized blocks of raw data. Each unique block contains data and an associated address. Updates to files, databases, etc., occur via individual block updates and not an update of the entire file. However, CBS may not excel at heavy random read/write input and output (I/O) and database storage. Using CBS for active data storage with high I/O demands like websites, databases, etc. is not recommended by Liquid Web unless approved under special circumstances.
Block Storage Features
Block storage is a server add-on because files are updated in individual blocks, increasing disk I/O performance. Depending on the implementation of your hosting provider, your options may vary. Block storage also allows users to frequently access their data and manipulate or edit files as needed.
With Liquid Web, the centralized block storage cluster can be conveniently scaled up or down with the simple click of a button in your account interface. In addition, because block storage has a maximum capacity for storage before it begins to operate inefficiently, Liquid Web’s Block Storage has a hard limit of 15 TB per volume. Therefore, most customers will opt for additional storage volumes as needed rather than having one massive volume.
Another feature of block storage is the ability to move volumes between servers. Liquid Web only allows this between VPS and cloud dedicated servers, but it is still a viable option for customers with this unique need.
Object Storage vs Block Storage vs File Storage
Knowing the technical differences between these solutions is vital when making storage decisions for your business. Therefore, we will highlight how they differ to help you identify which storage solution is best for you.
Object storage stores data in buckets and designates each piece of data as an object. Each object gets stored with all metadata and unique identifiers for locating and accessing the data via API. It is easily scaled by adding additional servers to its cluster.
Block storage breaks files into blocks and stores them as separate pieces of data with unique addresses. Thus, standard file/folder structure is not needed, but rather the blocks are stored collectively on a centralized cluster over a network for the most efficiency.
File storage is the standard storage used on personal computers (PC), mobile devices, and servers. It stores data via a hierarchical structure using folders. Because of the nested nature of the system, file paths are necessary for accessing data.
Benefits of Block Storage
One of the benefits of block storage is having additional storage when your data outgrows the available space on your server. Block storage provides an easy way to expand your storage beyond the capacity of your instance and create room for even more data.
Off-Server Backup Solution
Another benefit of block storage is storing backups off of your server. Keeping your data safe from disaster or satisfying a need for redundant storage is mission-critical. Block storage is separate from your local server, providing a safe and secure method of storing your data.
Sharing Storage Across Servers
Block storage allows for easy cross-attaching or attaching the same block storage volume to multiple servers. Using it in this manner comes in handy for companies sharing files across multiple servers.
There are also instances where synchronization across servers is needed. With block storage, you’ll need to implement a shared-disk file system (or clustered file system). Combining these two allows you to physically separate your storage from your servers and easily share storage by simultaneously mounting the block storage drive to multiple servers.
Block Storage Use Cases
Running Out of Storage
Businesses hosting their infrastructure off-site and needing more storage will benefit from block storage. Instead of adding another server for additional storage, block storage provides the flexibility to add as much storage as necessary for your files.
Companies using block storage for their off-server backups can restore files and other data that become corrupted in their production environment. Also, if your server becomes unreachable, you can restore from your backups with ease.
Liquid Web’s Block Storage is built on a distributed platform. It adds a level of redundancy and high availability to your VPS and cloud dedicated server data storage or hybrid server clusters. Managed by Liquid Web, block storage is ideal for many different types of applications and storage needs by providing businesses with the ability to allocate storage on a per-gigabyte basis.
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