File storage, also called file-level or file-based storage, is a type of IT storage for storing data in a hierarchical structure. Data is saved in files inside folders, nested within other folders, analogous to an office file cabinet. File storage is presented to both the system storing it and the system retrieving it in the same format. Data can be accessed using the Network File System (NFS) protocol for Unix or Linux, or the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol for Microsoft Windows.
In file storage, data requests must use the data’s file name, directory location, path or URL, and other information. File storage works well for millions of files but is not designed to handle billions of files. It is best for sharing a limited number of files locally. Cloud file storage is a storage service delivered over the Internet, billed on a pay-per-use basis. Most cloud storage services, including cloud backup services, use a file storage architecture.
Network-attached storage (NAS) is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local area network (LAN) nodes with shared file storage through a standard Ethernet connection. NAS devices, which typically do not have a keyboard or display, are configured and managed with a browser-based utility program. NAS storage solutions require proprietary hardware, making them more expensive to scale than software-defined storage (SDS) or cloud-based solutions. An SDS solution like SUSE Enterprise Storage provides unlimited scalability. It can run on Linux and in a virtual machine, on premises or in the cloud, using off-the-shelf hardware. This solution lowers both the initial capital expense as well as the cost of managing, scaling and upgrading data storage over time.