Network File Storage vs Block Storage – Which Type Does Your Business Need?

When it comes to increasing the performance of your server, one of the most effective upgrades you can make is to add extra storage.

While servers can be configured with terabytes of storage space, adding extra high-performance storage to your system can reap rewards for your business and your customers. Adding storage is similar to replacing your current hard drive on your desktop computer with a higher-end version – except with much more important implications for your business.

For example, adding storage

  • Creates an extra layer of redundancy for your most important data.
  • Increases speed of accessing files internally within your company.
  • Increases your website’s loading speed.
  • Increases the amount of visitors your site can handle.
  • Increases the amount of pure information storage your server can handle.

Of course, there are different types of storage that accomplish different objectives. Two common types are block storage and network file storage.

Block Storage

Block storage basically means you get a block of storage hitched onto your system, sort of like attaching an external hard drive to your computer. It has a set amount of space that’s all yours, regardless of how much you use.

But really, block storage is all about speed. It’s unmatchable in pure performance, and also gives your server extra layers of redundancy. One way is by setting up an additional server and using what’s called a failover cluster. If something unexpected happens to your server, other nodes in the cluster begin to provide service. Basically, you can quickly pick up where you left off.

However, block storage has its limitations. It’s more expensive than network file storage because you’re paying for ultra-high performance. Block storage also isn’t convenient for accommodating multiple users needing to access the same data – similar to having two of the same Word document open and you click ‘save,’ only to get a notification that the file is open elsewhere and must be closed first.

When You Would Want Block Storage

Block storage is ideal for storing huge databases from which you need to pull complicated sets of information. Say, for example, that you are a large medical company and you have records for 5 million people. Clearly, you’d need a ton of space, redundancy, and speed (so you’re not waiting 15 minutes to pull up a record while someone waits).

Another example could be sorting through insane amounts of data. Just for argument’s sake, let’s say you have the U.S. census stored on your server, and you’re trying to data mine sets of information, such as how many people fall in the 25-49 age bracket. You’d need high-powered performance to sort through 300 million people and find answers.

Network File Storage

Network file storage isn’t as high-powered as block storage, but it has advantages for certain companies that make it a better option.

Network file storage doesn’t give you your own hardware, like block storage does, but rather connects you into a larger system that many servers share. You pay for the amount of space that you use, making it much cheaper than block storage.

However, the main advantage of network file storage is that it gives many users the ability to use and share files. As mentioned above, block storage has difficulty with multiple servers accessing the same data at the same time – while network file storage has no such limitations.

When You Would Want Network File Storage

A good example of a company that needs network file storage would be one that saves and shares a lot of files between employees. Let’s say your company is a law firm with 30 attorneys, and you have mounds of paperwork. Frequently, many of these attorneys will be working together and will need to quickly access and share the same files that others are working on. Network file storage would be more effective than block in this instance.

Also, let’s say you use 5 servers to handle your website traffic. Your web designer or content writer can easily modify some of the files which will then be shared across all the servers immediately. However, if you have a massive site, you may want to go with block storage for its pure speed and greater capabilities.


The type of server you get is clearly dependent on your business. It’s a good rule of thumb that for a large business with massive amounts of information and a need for speed that block storage is the way to go.

On the other hand, if lightning-fast speed isn’t completely necessary and you want multiple users (even thousands) to access files, then network file storage is the smart way to go.

If you currently need increased storage and speed capabilities (or need room to grow in the future), adding storage can be the most effective change you can make.

Any questions or comments? Let us know!