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You know, aside from being an accomplished theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein was also somewhat a comedian in his day.
He once spoke about that which is infinite in this life, stating, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity[…]."
"[…]; and I'm not sure about the universe."
What a clever jokester that balloon-static-haired man was! Who knew?
Although we would never claim to know better than the eccentric creator of E = mc2, it is worth mentioning that object storage emulates an infinitely large storage facility. Thus, you could make a case for adding object storage to the two examples provided by the mastermind.
Perhaps the most obvious advantages of object storage are the system's limitless scalability potential and lack of data limitations. If your data is constantly expanding, object storage is the right storage method for you. Its virtual storage facility magically gets bigger as you add more data/capacity.
Object storage, otherwise known as 'object-based storage,' won't slow you down with functionality problems even if you have billions upon billions of nodes. We are eager to clarify and analyze more advantages of object storage, so we'll skip the dilly-dallying and get right to it.
P.S. This blog piece also includes a brief tutorial as to how to manage your object storage in Hostwinds' industrious Cloud Portal.
Although we could liken object storage to something infinite such as the series of digits following Pi's decimal, today we will be taking a more direct approach. We'll define object storage forthrightly, plain and simple, via a straightforward Q & A.
Question: What is object storage?
Answer: Where do we start?
Each unit of object storage is called an object. Due to the immense amount of information that can be stored using object storage, special software must be employed in order to locate objects within the metaphorical haystack of data.
We covered the fact that object storage is not limited by gigabytes or terabytes. That said, just to emphasize this point one more time, the software object storage uses enables you to pile on as much data as you like with no limits. File storage and block storage, by contrast, do not allow for a limitless amount of data without issues arising. Object storage is commonly used for archives, repositories for media files, big data storage, and backups.
Answer Continued: Every object has an 'object ID' that acts as a serial number of sorts. On top of possessing this object ID, each unit of data has various metadata tags stored inside of it. Metadata tags add more context for their respective objects. This context helps the sorting software efficiently find one object within a sea of objects. You, the object storage user, decide what metadata is connected to all of your objects.
Question: What is metadata?
Answer: Think of metadata tags like the tags the kids are putting on their Facebook and Instagram posts these days. When you employ object storage, you are able to give each and every piece of data in your system as many qualifying metadata tags as you want.
Object storage is like the gift that keeps on giving because you can analyze your metadata for business or marketing purposes. If, for instance, you are storing tons of customer orders via object storage, you can use metadata to figure out your primary demographic or client base. From there, you can adjust your marketing campaigns or business tactics based on your results if you so choose.
Question: What is a storage pool?
Answer: A storage pool is another name for the huge repository that houses all your objects. Instead of having a hierarchy of repositories like the file storage method, object storage only has one repository called a storage pool. Technically, object storage has the means to be infinitely scalable because one flat address stores each and every object.
Question: What are some of the other benefits of using object storage?
Answer: In addition to the scalability factor we keep bringing up, object storage is quite speedy as a result of the software used to locate each object. Here's another benefit offered by object storage: It is highly secure because every object is immutable. In other words, you can't mess with, edit, or alter an object once it is made.
Object storage is also profitable because it is very cost-effective and very customizable. More than that, this storage method's design makes it reliable, accessible, and durable.
Amazing Advantage of Using Object Storage: Generally, every single object is automatically backed up multiple times in the cloud. If a node goes down or isn't located, a copy can go in the lost node's place.
Question: Is there an instance when it wouldn't be a good idea to employ object storage?
Case in Point: Object storage isn't always ideal in cases where one would want to modify the objects often after they were created. One can, however, create an edited copy of an object.
Question: Why would one use object storage in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal?
Answer: According to our "Cloud Control Overview" Knowledge Base guide, when you get started with Hostwinds' Add-On Nightly Backups Services, "Object Storage stores any back-ups created and taken for your hosting products. You can always go to this location to manage and review any back-ups you may have."
Click below to review more Hostwinds Cloud Portal features:
Cloud Control Overview
Can you guess what it's time for now?
Question: What is the difference between file storage and object storage?
Answer: If you think of file storage as a physical storage facility housing copious amounts of manila-colored folders containing mass amounts of physical documents, you can see why object storage might be desirable for those who have huge amounts of files. File storage is a hierarchical system of files, meaning you have a few big folders (also called directories) that hold smaller folders (also called sub-directories) that hold a bunch of files that you name. Those with more files and folders than the file storage facility has space will be inclined to use object storage.
Question: How does the object storage system work?
Answer: When someone wants to access an object, they give the object ID and their unique ID as a user. Oh yeah, we should mention that you, as a user of object storage, also have a unique ID. The system compiles all the metadata associated with the object ID in order to rapidly find the file. APIs house the object storage system, and RESTful conventions maintain order.
If you are a Hostwinds client and aren't yet privy to your object storage management options in the Cloud Portal, we wholeheartedly recommend checking out the subsequent tutorial.
Here are a few steps to follow in order to competently navigate through the Cloud Portal's object storage management page:
Step #1: Visit https://www.hostwinds.com/ and click 'Client Login' at the top of the homepage in order to log in to your Client Area.
You may also click this link to navigate to the Client Area login page:
Step #2: Click the 'Cloud Control' drop-down menu on the royal blue navigation bar at the top of the page >> Click 'Cloud Portal'
Step #3: Click the 'STORAGE' drop-down menu on the white navigation bar at the top of the page >> Click 'Object Storage'
Step #4: Notice the blue 'Create Container' button on this page.
Fill out the pop-up form that appears in order to make a new container for your object storage.
Notice the 'Refresh Containers' button. Click this to "clear the cache and check for new objects."
A Word for the Wise: If you take a backup of your important data or files from your server, it is a good idea to download said data onto your computer and then upload it to your object storage. Once your data is downloaded, connect to your object storage with an s3 compatible browser, then upload it from your computer to your object storage. That way, you can easily pull the data up from your computer to restore it without having to use Rustic SSH commands.
On that note, notice the green 'Object API Info' button on the top right of the page. Click this button in order to receive the credentials that will connect you to your object storage.
If you sign up for Hostwinds' Nightly Backups Add-On Service, your backups will be stored nicely in the Object Storage Management page in the Cloud Portal.
Here are links to Hostwinds Knowledge Base guides that will teach you more about object storage in the Cloud Portal:
Object Storage Management
How To Use Object Storage To Host Files
Now that you are a seasoned object storage manager in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal, we will conclude in a customary fashion for the Hostwinds blog.
Considering there are now approximately 7.7 billion human beings on this earth, it makes sense that a storage method like object storage exists nowadays. There is a whole lot to store out there. Can you imagine how slow Facebook would run if object storage hadn't yet been invented? In any case, it is a testament to object storage's utility that it's currently used by huge multinational corporations.
Rather than making a trite statement such as, "The sky is the limit for object storage users," we will sign off with another Einstein quote. You know how we have the propensity to bookend these blog posts with riveting quotes from outstanding individuals, right? Hence the inspirational Einstein quote below:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
We hope you enjoy the rest of your week, folks. Remember, the sky isn't even the limit! There is no limit!
Written by Hostwinds Team / September 7, 2019