Explore the main types of AWS storage for files, blocks, and objects

Organizations new to AWS are sometimes surprised to learn that Amazon offers several types of cloud storage. Amazon allows an organization to choose the best possible type of storage based on the costs and requirements of a workload.

AWS storage types for files, blocks, and objects, including Simple Storage Service (S3), FSx, Elastic File System (EFS), and Elastic Block Store (EBS) vary widely in features, management, and performs. Make the right choice for every workload.


Amazon S3 is perhaps the most popular of all AWS storage types. S3 is Amazon’s cloud-based object storage.

S3 is versatile – there are eight different storage classes. Each of these classes – or levels – has its own characteristics and prices. Some are more suitable for creating data lakes (Standard), while others are suitable for data archiving (Glacier) or even deep archiving (Glacier Deep Archive). The S3 Intelligent-Tiering class can automatically move data to the least expensive tier based on how an organization uses the data.

S3 connectivity has become an industry standard. Many third-party products, both cloud and on-premises, support S3 connectivity. Similarly, smaller cloud providers, such as Backblaze, Cloudian, and Wasabi, offer S3-compatible cloud storage.


Amazon FSx is essentially a fully managed, cloud-based file server. FSx allows users to choose the file system type. Deploy FSx on NetApp OnTap, OpenZFS, Luster or Windows Server. Choose the most comfortable platform or one that offers features that best match the organization’s requirements.

Don’t worry about deploying or maintaining a cloud-based file server. Instead, Amazon manages all of the back-end infrastructure.

The features and capabilities offered by FSx vary by platform, but each platform is configured for high availability. Users can access storage through industry standard protocols. For example, a file share hosted on FSx for Windows Server is accessed using the SMB protocol. Windows file servers also offer additional features, such as deduplication, compression, audit logging, and automated backups.


Like Amazon FSx, EFS is a fully managed file server in the cloud. The main difference between these AWS storage types is that while users can deploy FSx on any platform they choose, EFS is Linux-based and accessed through the NFS protocol.

Using EFS in addition to its managed services platform has several advantages. First, the storage scales automatically as users add or remove data and can accommodate several petabytes of storage. Although EFS might be general-purpose storage, Amazon designed it specifically for work with AWS compute services, such as Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Lambda, Elastic Kubernetes Service, and others. Multiple services can simultaneously access an EFS share, making it a good choice for users who need to share data.

EFS consists of two separate storage tiers and users can configure it to automatically move infrequently accessed data to a less expensive tier.


EBS is Amazon’s high-performance block storage. EBS is the default AWS storage type for hosting EC2 VHDs, but it can be used for any high-performance cloud workload.

EBS supports throughput-optimized storage, as well as IOPS-optimized storage. When provisioning EBS optimized for IOPS, users can specify the number of IOPS required by the workload.

The throughput-optimized EBS provides a base level of performance, but can also handle potential bursts. Bursts are limited by a credit system where credits automatically accumulate over time. Credits decrease when bursts occur. This method ensures that EBS can support storage bursts if needed, but without consistently exceeding the base performance threshold.

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