Understanding the Differences Between File, Volume, Tape Storage Gateway

Storage gateways are an essential component of cloud computing and data storage. They bridge the gap between on-premises environments and cloud services, enabling data to flow seamlessly between the two. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers several types of storage gateways, each designed for specific use cases. In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between these gateway types.

Introduction to AWS Storage Gateways

AWS Storage Gateway is a hybrid cloud storage service that connects your on-premises environment with AWS cloud storage. It allows you to securely store data in the cloud for backup, archiving, and disaster recovery. The three primary types of AWS Storage Gateway are:

  1. File Gateway: This type of gateway allows you to store and retrieve objects in Amazon S3 using the Network File System (NFS) or Server Message Block (SMB) protocols. It’s commonly used for file sharing and cloud backup.
  2. Volume Gateway: With Volume Gateway, you can create block volumes that can be mounted as iSCSI devices, making them suitable for applications that need block-level storage. There are two modes within Volume Gateway: Stored Volumes and Cached Volumes.
  3. Tape Gateway: Tape Gateway offers a way to archive data to virtual tape in Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier. It provides an alternative to traditional tape backup systems.

Understanding the Differences

Now, let’s dive deeper into the differences between these storage gateway types:

1. File Gateway

  • Use Case: File Gateway is ideal for file-based workloads like document management, content repositories, and media assets. It serves as a file interface to store data in Amazon S3.
  • Access Method: File Gateway supports NFS and SMB protocols, which are standard for file shares.
  • Data Placement: Data is directly stored as objects in Amazon S3, making it accessible from anywhere in your network.
  • Latency: File Gateway minimizes latency since files are directly stored in Amazon S3.

2. Volume Gateway

  • Use Cases:
    • Stored Volumes: This mode is suitable for applications that require low-latency access to their entire dataset, such as databases. Data is stored in Amazon EBS snapshots.
    • Cached Volumes: Cached Volumes are for applications that need cost-effective storage with low latency for frequently accessed data. Data is primarily stored in Amazon S3.
  • Access Method: Volume Gateway uses the iSCSI protocol, making it compatible with block storage applications.
  • Data Placement:
    • Stored Volumes: Data is stored in Amazon EBS snapshots.
    • Cached Volumes: Frequently accessed data is stored in an on-premises cache while the rest is in Amazon S3.
  • Latency: Cached Volumes introduce slightly higher latency due to data retrieval from Amazon S3.

3. Tape Gateway

  • Use Case: Tape Gateway is designed for archiving and backup applications that use traditional tape-based workflows.
  • Access Method: It emulates a physical tape library, allowing applications to work with virtual tapes using the iSCSI protocol.
  • Data Placement: Data is archived to Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier in the form of virtual tapes.
  • Latency: Retrieving data from virtual tapes may introduce higher latency compared to other gateway types.


Choosing the right AWS Storage Gateway type depends on your specific use case and requirements. File Gateway, Volume Gateway, and Tape Gateway offer flexibility for various storage and access scenarios, enabling you to seamlessly integrate your on-premises and cloud environments. Understanding the differences between these gateways is essential for making the right choice that aligns with your organization’s needs.

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