November 15, 2023

AWS File Storage: A 2024 Guide

By Gilad David Maayan

What Is Cloud File Storage?

Cloud file storage is a method of storing data in the cloud rather than on local servers or personal computers. This form of storage offers numerous advantages over traditional forms of data storage. It provides businesses with the ability to access their data from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. This increased accessibility can lead to enhanced productivity and improved business operations.

Additionally, cloud storage solutions often come with robust security features, ensuring that your data is protected from cyber threats. They also offer scalability, allowing you to easily increase or decrease your storage capacity based on your changing business needs.

One of the leading providers of cloud file storage is Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS offers a range of file storage services, each with its unique features designed to cater to various business requirements. Let’s delve deeper into these services in the next section.

File Storage Services on AWS and Their Features

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is one of the most widely used file storage services provided by AWS. It is designed to store and retrieve any amount of data at any time from anywhere on the web.

Amazon S3 is an object storage service, which means it stores data as objects within resources called “buckets.” Each object is assigned a unique identifier, which is used to access the object. This structure makes S3 highly scalable, as it can handle vast amounts of data.

Furthermore, Amazon S3 provides robust security features, such as encryption and access control policies, ensuring the safety of your data.

Amazon EFS

Amazon EFS is a scalable file storage service for use with Amazon EC2 instances. It provides a simple, scalable, and fully managed elastic NFS file system for use with AWS Cloud and on-premises resources.

The primary advantage of Amazon EFS is its seamless integration with other AWS services and its capability to scale automatically to petabytes without disrupting applications. It provides consistent and low-latency performance and supports a broad spectrum of workloads and applications.

Amazon FSx

Amazon FSx offers fully managed third-party file systems. It provides two file systems: Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, a fully managed Windows native file system built on Windows Server, and Amazon FSx for Lustre, a fully managed file system optimized for fast processing of workloads.

Amazon FSx is designed to provide feature-rich, highly reliable, and scalable file storage that is accessible over industry-standard protocols. It integrates with other AWS services, making it easier for users to process, analyze, and produce outputs using AWS compute, database, and machine learning services.

Best Practices for Using File Storage on AWS

Implement Lifecycle Policies

AWS File Storage allows you to manage your data throughout its lifecycle efficiently. By setting up lifecycle policies, you can automate processes such as transitioning files to lower-cost storage classes, archiving data, and even deleting data that’s no longer needed.

Lifecycle policies are a crucial part of managing your data cost-effectively. For instance, you might have data that’s frequently accessed initially but becomes less so over time. With lifecycle policies, you can automatically move such data from a high-cost storage class to a lower-cost one as it ages. Similarly, you can set up policies to delete temporary files after a set period, saving you from unnecessary storage costs.

Moreover, lifecycle policies help keep your data organized. By automatically archiving or deleting outdated data, you ensure your storage systems aren’t cluttered with unnecessary files. This not only makes data management easier but also enhances the efficiency of your storage systems.

Integrate CloudOps Practices to Proactively Manage File Storage

To proactively manage and optimize your AWS File Storage operations, it’s highly recommended to integrate CloudOps practices. CloudOps involves the use of various tools, procedures, and policies to manage and maintain cloud-based systems and services.

One aspect of CloudOps is monitoring and analytics. AWS provides various tools, like AWS CloudWatch and AWS CloudTrail, that allow you to monitor your file storage systems effectively. With these tools, you can track performance metrics, set alarms for unusual activity, and analyze logs for trends and anomalies.

Another key aspect of CloudOps is automation. Automation can greatly enhance the efficiency of your cloud operations by reducing manual effort and minimizing the risk of human error. AWS offers various automation tools, such as AWS Lambda and AWS Auto Scaling, which can automate tasks like responding to events or adjusting resources based on demand.

Utilize Encryption in Transit and at Rest for Sensitive Data

Another best practice to adopt when using AWS File Storage is to utilize encryption, both in transit and at rest, for sensitive data. Data encryption is a fundamental aspect of data security, and AWS provides robust tools for this purpose.

Encryption in transit ensures that your data is secure as it travels from one place to another. AWS uses SSL/TLS protocols, which offer strong encryption for data in transit. This protects your data from potential interception during transmission.

On the other hand, encryption at rest ensures your data is secure when stored. AWS offers server-side encryption using either AWS-managed keys or customer-provided keys. The former is an automated solution where AWS handles the encryption and key management, while the latter gives you more control over the encryption process.

Design Systems to Take Advantage of Elastic File Storage

One of the defining features of AWS File Storage services is their elastic nature. This elasticity allows you to scale your storage resources up or down based on demand, ensuring you have the capacity you need while minimizing costs.

Designing your systems to take advantage of this feature is a key best practice. This involves implementing scaling policies that automatically adjust your storage resources based on various metrics, such as data ingestion rate or file system utilization.

For instance, you might set up a policy that increases your storage capacity if the file system utilization exceeds a certain threshold. Similarly, a policy might decrease your capacity if the data ingestion rate falls below a certain level.

Use AWS Backup

When it comes to data management, implementing a robust backup strategy is crucial, and AWS Backup is an excellent tool for this purpose. AWS Backup allows you to centralize and automate your backup tasks across AWS services.

With AWS Backup, you can create backup plans that define when and how your data is backed up. These plans can be applied to multiple resources, making it easy to manage backups at scale. Moreover, AWS Backup supports various storage classes, allowing you to optimize costs based on your backup and restore needs.

AWS Backup also provides tools for monitoring and managing your backups. You can track the status of your backups, set alarms for failed backup jobs, and manage the lifecycle of your backup data.

Use AWS DataSync for Efficient Data Transfer

The final best practice I’d like to discuss is the use of AWS DataSync for efficient data transfer. AWS DataSync is a data transfer service that simplifies, automates, and accelerates moving data between on-premises storage systems and AWS Storage services, or between AWS Storage services.

AWS DataSync uses a purpose-built protocol that provides faster and more reliable data transfers compared to traditional methods. It also includes features like data validation and encryption to ensure your data is transferred securely and accurately.

Moreover, AWS DataSync is easy to use. You simply set up a data transfer task, specify your source and destination, and start the transfer. The service handles all the heavy lifting, freeing you from the complexities and challenges of data migration.


In conclusion, AWS File Storage offers a powerful and flexible solution for managing your data in the cloud. By adopting the best practices discussed in this guide, you can ensure you’re leveraging this service to its full potential. Whether it’s implementing lifecycle policies, utilizing encryption, integrating CloudOps practices, designing for elasticity, using AWS Backup, or leveraging AWS DataSync, each practice plays a crucial role in optimizing your AWS File Storage operations.

By Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.
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