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Block storage is a category of data storage mostly used in storage area network (SAN) environments, where data is saved in huge volumes known as blocks. Each block in block storage is configured by a storage administrator and acts like an individual hard drive. The blocks are controlled with the help of server-based operating systems. The blocks can be accessed by Fibre Channel or by Fibre Channel over Ethernet protocols.
In block storage, raw storage volumes are created in the device. With the help of a server-based system, the volumes are connected and each of them are treated as individual hard drives. This is the opposite of file-level storage, in which storage drives are configured with a storage protocol like Server Message Clock, Common Internet File System or Network File System. One of the salient features of block storage is that any type of file system can be placed on block-level storage. Use cases of block storage include virtual machine file system volumes and structured database storage.
There are some advantages associated with block storage. As blocks can act as individual hard disks, block storage functions well for storing a wide range of applications such as ones related to databases and file systems. Another point about block storage is that it can offer booting of systems which are connected to them. In fact, block-level storage transportation is more reliable, more efficient, more flexible, more versatile and provides better performance than file storage.
However, there are a few drawbacks associated with block storage. Block storage devices are generally more expensive and complex than file storage. As no additional storage-side metadata is provided with a given block in block storage, performance degrades in geographically distributed systems.