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Azure File Storage (AFS) enables you to store and manage file directories in the cloud, and access your data via Server Message Block (SMB). You can use AFS to share files across multiple machines, and distribute storage with automatic, local data duplication. AFS also provides data encryption for data at rest and in transit, via SMB 3.0 and HTTPS connections.

In this article, you will learn what Azure File Storage (AFS) is, what you can do with Azure Files, and what are the cons and pros of AFS.

Azure File Storage (AFS): A Brief Introduction

Azure Files is a storage service that you can use to achieve file-directory storage in the cloud. With it, you can store any data you would in a traditional file system, including documents, media, and logs. It is based on the Network File System (NFS) protocol and allows access via Server Message Block (SMB).

With Files, you can re-create your on-premises file solutions with the following benefits:

  • Shared access—you can share file systems across multiple machines, applications, and instances. This enables you to allow distributed access while ensuring that all users have access to the same assets. Users can access files via SMB, REST API, or client libraries.
  • Scripting and tooling—you can configure and manage Files via PowerShell cmdlets, Azure CLI, or a built-in UI.
  • Resiliency—storage is distributed with automatic, local data duplication for greater resiliency and availability. You also have the option to duplicate data across availability zones for disaster recovery.
  • Scalability—you can autoscale your file share as needed up to 5 PiB. If you need more storage than that, you can attach additional storage accounts (up to 250).
  • Security—data is encrypted at-rest and in-transit via SMB 3.0 and HTTPS connections. You can also restrict access to files via Active Directory (AD) controls.

Use Cases for Azure Files

There are multiple ways you can integrate Files into your cloud workflows. Below are some common use cases:

  • File server—serves as a replacement for on-premises file stores or NAS-attached storage. You can set this up solely in the cloud or as a hybrid share with the addition of Azure File Sync or other native file storage solutions, like Azure NetApp Files.
  • Lift and shift—you can use to migrate applications that require a file share without modification. You can achieve this by moving the application and application data or by connecting your on-prem applications to Files.
  • Monitoring and analytics—allows the centralised storage of log files, metrics, and reports for analytics tools and enterprise monitoring. This ensures analytics are performed uniformly and prevents loss of data due to instance or service failures.
  • Development and testing—enables you to create a repository of code and utilities and software used for software testing and development. This allows you to share configuration files, diagnostic data, and provide access to tooling from cloud environments.

Azure File Storage Pros and Cons

Azure files can be an excellent solution for creating a cloud file share, however, it may not be perfect for everyone. When deciding whether Files fits your needs, consider the following pros and cons.