Picking the best storage option for the cloud
Home » Blog » EFS vs. Amazon EBS vs. S3: Picking the Best Storage Option for the Cloud

EFS vs. Amazon EBS vs. S3: Picking the Best Storage Option for the Cloud

The storage strategy you ultimately choose will play a defining role in the costs you will be expending and the performance you end up receiving. If you’re running after peak efficiency, you need to match your processing, computing, and application needs to a storage technology that is appropriate. However, knowing which option is the best for you can be tricky. To provide you with the answers and make your life easier, we will be exploring the differences between Amazon EFS (Amazon Elastic File System, Amazon EBS (Amazon Elastic Block Store), and Amazon S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service).

The best part is that we will be exploring the benefits and use cases of every solution, which will make it simpler and easier for you for picking the best storage solution that supports your storage needs and business objectives.

The Differences Between Amazon EFS vs. EBS vs. S3

AWS or Amazon Web Services has three different storage options, Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS, and Amazon S3, that can be applied to numerous types of needs for workload. We will be taking a closer look at all the similarities, differences, and key features of every option.

Amazon EBS helps to deliver block-level high-availability storage volumes that are designed for EC2 instances or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. It helps in storing data on the file system, which will be retained once the EC2 instance shuts down.

Similarly, Amazon EFS is also optimized for EC2 and provides file storage that is scalable. You can use it as a common data source for any workload or application running on different instances. You can also configure instances to be mounted on the file system by using an EFS file system.

Last but not least, Amazon S3 is an object store that is excellent at storing extensive numbers of user files or backups. S3 isn’t limited to EC2, unlike EFS or EBS, as files that are stored in the S3 bucket may be accessed directly or programmatically from services like the AWS CloudFront. That’s why most websites tend to use it for holding their media files and content, which can be efficiently served with AWS CloudFront.

The big question that is still answered is how do you end up choosing between Amazon EFS vs. EBS vs. S3? The answer will depend on what you plan to use them for and the benefits you want from them. Let’s take a deeper look at each one individually, so that you can understand their use cases and benefits completely.

Unlock the future of intelligent applications with our cutting-edge Generative AI integration services!

Amazon EBS (Amazon Elastic Block Store)

You can use Amazon EBS to provide storage required in virtual machine drives. Data is stored in blocks of equal sizes and organized neatly into a hierarchy that resembles your standard filing system. Apart from that, the volumes will be attached to EC2 instances and provisioned in size in a way that is like a local disk drive on physical machines. To provide you with a better understanding we will be looking at the benefits of EBS, along with its use cases below.

Benefits of Amazon EBS:

  • Performance Optimization
    Throughput is increased by assigning network capacity and ensuring the network contention is minimized between EBS and your instances.
  • Low-Latency Performance
    You can get reliable I/O performance that has been scaled to meet the needs of your workload as it uses SSD EBS volumes. That means if your application doesn’t require storage in large amounts but needs high performance, you can separately provision performance from the storage capacity.
  • Secure Storage and High Availability
    EBS volumes provide redundancy in its Availability Zones, and at the same time encryption and access control upgrades security.
  • Geographic Interchangeability
    EBS allows you to duplicate snapshots within the AWS regions and placing data and resources in different locations. That makes it simpler to have geographical expansion, disaster recovery, and data center migration.
  • Easy Restoration and Data Backup
    Data is safeguarded with volume snapshots that point-in-time.
  • Rapid Down or Up-Scaling
    Volumes can be quickly scaled with EBS, which ensures that you get the right capacity and performance for changing needs of computing.
  • Potential Cost Savings
    Even though you are required to pre-allocate the entire disk upfront, EBS will only cost you around a third of the costs of EFS per GB, especially if you know the amount of space you require and are only accessing your storage from only one EC2 instance.

When to Use Amazon EBS

  • Development and Testing
    You can provision, duplicate, archive, or scale your testing, production, or development environments.
  • NoSQL Databases
    The best part about EBS is that it provides the low-latency dependability and performance needed for NoSQL databases for peak performances.
  • Relational Databases
    EBS can be scaled to meet the changing needs of your storage. That makes it an excellent choice for databases that are deploying, which includes Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or PostgreSQL.
  • Business Consistency
    You can also copy AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) and EBS snapshots for running applications in multiple AWS regions. That will speed up recovery time and reduce data loss by backing up data and log files on a regular basis across geographies.
  • Enterprise-Wide Applications
    EBS can meet various computing needs of your enterprise via a powerful block storage, which supports applications that are most important to you, like Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, or Oracle.

Amazon EFS (Amazon Elastic File System)

EFS will be your best choice if you run an application with a higher workload, requiring scalable storage, and needs to quickly produce outputs. It automatically scales and can even meet workload spikes that are the most abrupt. Once the storage demand of high volume has been passed, the EFS will scale back down automatically.

You can mount EFS on multiple AWS services and access from nearly every virtual machine you own. It be used for analyzing big data or run shared resources. You will also need to pay for the storage you’re using, instead of provisioning storage beforehand, which is wasted potentially.

The Benefits of Amazon EFS

  • Performance That Can be Scaled for Supporting All Workloads
    EFS provides the throughput required by the changing needs of workloads. It offers high throughputs in spurts to match the sudden growth in file systems and even for workloads that are 10 GB per second or 500,000 IOPS.
  • Energetic Elasticity
    Your file system can be scaled down or up automatically. Adding or removing files is easier without disturbing applications. After making your EFS file system files can be added with no need to worry regarding storage provisioning.
  • Accessible File Storage
    EC2 instances and on-premise servers can concurrently access file systems that are shared. EFS file systems that are located in different AWS regions can be accessed by EC2 instances via VPC peering.
  • Support for Serverless Architecture
    EFS can work with serverless functions of AWS Lambda to share data between functions, unlike EBS. Lambda functions can also read larger files from EFS, like code libraries, and write outputs to EFS for sharing and storage.
  • Comprehensive Managed Services
    The best part is that EFS is a completely managed service, which means that your business won’t ever have to maintain, patch, or deploy your file systems.
  • Cost Savings
    You’ll only be paying for storage that you’re using, and there are no commitments, advance provisioning, or up-front fees. Apart from that, you can transfer files that haven’t been used in a month to a storage class that is more cost-effective by using Lifecycle Management, which lowers your expense by nearly 85%. Although, you must remember that EFS will cost you three times higher per GB if you’re comparing it to EBS.
  • Compliance and Tighter Security
    Your file system can be securely accessed from your current security solutions and you can control EFS file systems access by using POSIX, IAM (AWS Identity and Access Management) or Amazon VPC (Amazon Virtual Private Cloud) permissions. You can also encrypt your data with EFS, whether it’s at rest or in transit. That makes it easier for regulatory compliance and offers your security that is dependable.

When to Use Amazon EFS

  • Lift-and-Shift Application Support
    The best part about EFS is that it is scalable, elastic, and available. It allows you to quickly and easily move enterprise applications without re-architecting them.
  • Big Data Analytics
    It can easily run big data applications that require significant node throughputs, read-after-write operations, and lower-latency file access.
  • Web Server Support and Content Management System
    EFS is a throughput file system that is robust and can enable web serving applications and content management systems like blogs, archives, or websites.
  • Application Testing and Development
    Only EFS offers a file system that is shared, which is required to share files and code across numerous computing resources for facilitating workloads that auto-scale.
service disabled veteran owned small business


Amazon S3

The one thing you should know about Amazon S3 is that it offers object storage. Every object comes with its own unique key or identifier for accessing through any location’s web requests. S3 will also support web content static hosting, which you can access from AWS CloudFront or the S3 bucket. Also, S3 is extremely secure and offers data durability of eleven nines.

Benefits of Amazon S3

  • Scalability, Availability, and Robust Performance
    Amazon S3 has scaled storage resources that are free from investments upfront or resource procurement cycles. It will keep your data safe from all threats, errors, and failures, and makes them available whenever it is required by you.
  • Storage Classes that are Cost-Saving
    When you store data in the storage classes of S3 you will maintain higher performance levels and save costs. The analysis of storage classes allows you to locate data, which may be transferred to a storage class of lower costs. You can then transfer it by using the S3 Lifecycle policy. That’s not all, as S3 Intelligent Tiering will allow you to store data that has unknown or changing access patterns by putting objects in tiers, which helps reduce storage costs.
  • Compliance, Audit Features, and Easier Security
    S3 helps store and protect data from unauthorized access by using its powerful encryption and access management tools. There are features in S3 that make it easier to meet compliance of regulatory requirements, while irregular access requests for sensitive data can be denied with Amazon Macie. Also, S3 works extremely well with several of the auditing features of AWS.
  • Exacting Data Control
    The extensive range of management tools allow you to report on and classify data. S3 includes analysis of storage class, which monitors access patterns, and at the same time, object transfers are analyzed by S3 Lifecycle for lowering cost storage. The S3 Object Lock ensures retention dates are assigned to objects to prevent deletion, while S3 Inventory provides visibility of objects that have been stored along with their metadata and encryption.

    Also, S3 Batch Operations are in charge of running maintenance for storage management for objects numbering in billions, while you can use AWS Lambda for automating workflows, logging activities, and defining alerts without adding infrastructure management.
Small Disadvantaged Business

Small Disadvantaged Business

Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) provides access to specialized skills and capabilities contributing to improved competitiveness and efficiency.

When to Use Amazon S3

  • Big Data Analytics and Data Lake
    You can use S3 to create a data lake for holding raw data in its original format, and use tools for machine learning, analytics, and query-in-place for drawing insights. S3 can be used with AWS Lake Formation for creating data lakes, after which it can define security, auditing, and governance policies. They can scale together to meet your increasing data stores, and you won’t need to make an upfront investment.
  • Restoration and Backup
    Robust and secure restoration and backup solutions can be built easily by combining S3 with other offerings from AWS, which includes S3 Glacier, EBS, or EFS. These offerings can improve your capabilities on-premises, and other offerings can help you in meeting recovery time, recovery point objectives, and compliance.
  • Reliable Disaster Recovery
    S3 Cross Region Replication, S3 Storage, and other AWS database, networking, and computing services make it easier to protect critical IT systems, applications, and data. It provides agile recovery from outages, irrespective of whether they are caused by human error, system failures, or natural disasters.
  • Methodical Archiving
    You gain methodical archiving capabilities thanks to S3 working seamlessly with other offerings from AWS. S3 Glacier Deep Archive and S3 Glacier allow you to retire physical infrastructures and archive data. You can use three S3 storage classes for retaining objects at their lowest rates for extended time periods. You can also create S3 Lifecycle policies for archiving objects at any point during their lifecycle and directly upload objects for their archival storage classes.

    S3 Object Lock also meets regulations for compliance as it applies retention data objects to avoid their deletion. Also, S3 Glacier helps in restoring archived objects within minutes, which a tape library can’t do.

The Bottom Line

There are many nuances you have to navigate through when you’re weighing the merits of Amazon EFS vs. EBS vs. S3. It can be hard to decide which technology will best fit the unique goals and challenges of your business, which is why it is best that you work with AWS-certified engineers and experts. They can advise you better regarding which storage solution is the best one for your organization.

Further blogs within this EFS vs. Amazon EBS vs. S3: Picking the Best Storage Option for the Cloud category.

Frequently Asked Questions