Block Level Storage Vs File Level Storage

Published: 10th April 2012
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In order to distinguish between Block Level Storage Vs File level storage, let us first focus on what is Block level storage, as it can make things easier to understand. In the Computing terms, a Block, which is used for data storage, is a progression of Bytes and Bits and is made up of an ostensible (proposed) length. Data which is aligned in these blocks is called as Blocked and inserting the data into the blocks is called as Blocking. This is well utilized by a computer program which is on the receiving end. In this concept, the data is read as a whole block and is implemented on storage devices such as hard disks, floppy drives, optical discs, flash memories like pen drives, magnetic tapes. In classical file systems, a block has only a single file and in others, the data size can vary. Block level storage is a file system used by logical and physical volumes and is induced into the storage area network servers via small computer system interface or through high speed fiber channel.

File level storage can be defined as a centralized location, to store (dump) files and folders. These files systems are Network attached and so form a platform for Network Attached Storage. This level of storage requires file level protocols (computer communication language) like NFS presented by Linux and VMware and SMB/CIFS which is presented by Windows.

Now, after getting a clear picture of a Block level and File level data storage, let us take the positives and negatives from them.

Storage requirements can be calculated through Storage Calculator.

Block Level storage- The Block sizes for storing data are fixed and at first raw volumes are created and then the operating system of the server interconnects these volumes and utilizes them as individual hard drives, thus making it flexible for any file formats storage.

SCSI commands are transmitted in between the initiator and target.

There is no overhead file system like an ext3.

Block level file system utilizes Fibre channel, iSCSI and FCOE protocols.

This file system gets full credit for performance as there is a faster access, as they are close to the server.

File system storage supports external boot up, which is essential for ESX and ESXi host servers.

The storage can be a Virtual Machine File System this file system supports NFS, CIFS, HTTP/DAV, FTP and rsync and much more as its storage formats.

Block level file storage is pretty expensive, but is very much reliable.

Block Level storage is highly customizable storage and is versatile and speedy.

Complexity factor is high in this storage as one need to cover the data on top of the blocks. Moreover, managing storage protection levels, monitoring storage communication infrastructure and performance assurance.

Cloud computing has taken up Block level storage to a new ground and now immediate fast storage is not available.

File Level Storage- Network attached systems use this file system interface and are a lot cheap, when considered to SAN.

This file storage works with an ext3 file system.

Data is written and read into files, which have variable lengths. This file system is packed with an overhead, as data is split and stored in blocks.

File level storage will not support the format of Virtual Machine File system.

File system storage supports external boot up, which is essential for ESX and ESXi host servers.

This file system supports NFS, CIFS, HTTP/DAV, FTP and Rsync and much more as its storage formats.

Cannot handle heavy traffic on the network.

Recovery of files is much faster in this level of data storage system.

Block level storage emergence with File level storage

As the technology is touching new levels of innovations, the data storage field is also getting refreshed. Nowadays, more organizations, in order to avoid any kind of caveat, are opting for the Hybrid level of storage, which includes the convergence of File level storage with the block level storage. So, according to the need, the service of storage levels is opting for a fusion.

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