Cloud Object Storage: Everything You Need To Know

This content was last reviewed on: December 1st, 2021

Overview

This guide covers the basics of cloud object storage and helps you find the right vendor for your use case.

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What is cloud object storage?

Cloud object storage solves scalability and ease-of-use problems found with traditional file storage or block storage.

Cloud object storage is also:

  • Resilient to disaster or hardware failure
  • Easy to Access from anywhere in the world
  • More expensive than typical on-premises or block storage

Companies that prioritize speed of development and flexibility of data access typically choose cloud object storage by default, with only a handful of big companies, like DropBox, opting in for on-premise storage.

Cloud object storage pricing guide

Depending on how you store and access files, different vendors offer better pricing.

For example, if you're looking for serving static web assets, you're going to find a better deal with Backblaze B2. If you're looking for deep archive, Amazon Glacier might be a better fit.

Get a complete ROI report on any vendor with our free tool.

Top 9 vendors in cloud object storage

The right object storage provider for you is determined by your usage requirements or features.

There are thousands of ways to store, access or analyze data. The features, integrations or usage patterns you have will greatly narrow the vendor you can work with.

For example, it is against Wasabi’s terms of service for a company egress more than they store, disqualifying the service for many users.

Get recommendations on the vendor that will work best for you in our resource.

Alternatives to Amazon S3

For companies already using Amazon S3 considering a switch, S3 compatibility allows for the new object storage provider to be a drop in replacement. This means there are essentially no major changes required to the application architecture.

Amazon S3 offers more features than just how their code is structured, so choosing the right alternative for you means looking for features like:

  1. Access control
  2. Event notifications
  3. Compliance
  4. Storage tiers
  5. Concurrency
  6. Multipart Upload
  7. Etc.

If you’re looking for any vendor that you can store files with, check out our list of cloud object storage vendors.

Most important object storage features

The right object storage features provide:

  1. Better performance
  2. Developer productivity
  3. Security and reliability

To choose the right vendor, the mix between features offered and price needs to be found. For example, having multi-part upload can greatly improve the user experience for large files, or event notifications help keep track of what’s going on in your application.

Object storage vs block storage

Object storage and block storage are both useful ways of storing and accessing files.

Block storage has several advantages over object storage including:

  • Better performance due to great I/O performance and low latency
  • Familiarity because every developer has used this "normal" type of storage
  • Flexibility with the ability to modify parts of files

This mean block storage is great for:

  • Database backends
  • RAID volumes and disk mirroring
  • Applications doing server side processing

Object Storage Vendor Comparisons

Choosing the right object storage vendor can save dev time and keep your cloud bill manageable.

New offerings like Wasabi Hot Storage, Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage and Storj DCS are challenging incumbents like Amazon S3, leaving many software architects wondering which vendor to choose and why.

Many of these vendors will do an excellent job, but at times there can be hidden “gotchas” that only show themselves at scale. In our comparisons listed below, we cover the pros, cons and gotchas that should influence your decision on the right cloud object storage vendor for you.

Our most popular comparison pages are:

  1. Backblaze B2 vs Wasabi
  2. Amazon S3 vs Azure Blob Storage
  3. Amazon S3 vs Backblaze B2
  4. Amazon S3 vs Storj DCS
  5. Amazon S3 vs Wasabi Hot Storage

The Benefits of decentralized storage

Vendors like Storj DCS, Filecoin, and Sia are built on decentralized storage.

These vendors utilize blockchain technology to encrypt and store data across the world in "nodes." These nodes are then compensated for their space.

The primary quantifiable benefits of decentralized storage are:

  • Savings on usage fees
  • Native geo-redundancy

To read about the non-quantified benefits of decentralized storage, download our white paper here. The paper itself is hosted on Storj, where it has been split up into 80 pieces across the node network and will be assembled when you click download 🤓.

News in Cloud Object Storage

The object storage market is fast changing. New entrants with exciting features, and new paradigms are changing the way companies think about cloud object storage.

10/18/2021 Backblaze IPO

Backblaze filed their IPO, as an emerging growth company.

9/28/2021: Cloudflare R2 is Announced

Cloudflare announced an Amazon S3 competitor called Cloudflare R2, what they call Rapid and Reliable Object Storage, minus the egress fees. Releasing an object storage provider without egress is a major disruption and can lead to significant savings.

For our take, you can check out our comparison Cloudflare R2 vs Amazon S3, or our editorial piece, Will Cloudflare R2 Win Customers from Amazon S3?