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Azure Cost Management

Azure Disk Storage Pricing and Performance vs. Azure Files and Azure Blob Storage

Organizations host different types of applications on Azure, but not every application has the same storage requirements. And it’s not always easy to tell which is the right storage type to use among all the different options available on the platform. Making the wrong choice can seriously affect your Azure cost management efforts.

These options can be roughly categorized as block storage, file storage, and blob storage; Azure provides services in each of these categories, namely Azure discs, Azure Files, and Azure Blob storage.

In this blog we will compare and contrast these three Azure storage services to help you identify the service that best suits your workload’s performance requirements. We will also look at how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP enhances the native cloud storage capabilities with its trademark storage efficiency, flexibility, availability, protection, and cost saving features.

Read on or jump ahead to a specific topic in this article:

Azure Storage Options

Before we dive deeper, let’s break down the differences between block storage, object storage, and file storage.

  • Block storage systems store data in fixed-size blocks, and are best suited for applications that need access to high performance storage.
  • Object storage is suited for unstructured data, as the data is stored as objects in a flat address space with unique identifiers, scaling into petabytes of capacity.
  • Cloud file storage services offer managed file shares that can be accessed over file sharing protocols such as SMB and NFS.

Now let’s take a look at the specific services Azure offers for each of these storage types.

Azure Disk Storage

Azure managed disks, or Azure disks, for short, are the block storage option on Azure. These disks can be attached to services such as virtual machines, Azure Kubernetes Service clusters, and Azure VMware solutions.

There are different types of Azure disk, including Ultra Disks, Premium SSD, Standard SSD, and Standard HDD. The differences between these types are primarily performance, with Ultra yielding the lowest latency and Standard HDD the highest. These disks can be attached as OS disks, data disks, or temporary disks in Azure Virtual Machines.

Azure disks are offered as a managed service where the only parameters customers need to select when provisioning new disks are the disk type and its size. Disk features such as Azure high availability and reliability are managed entirely by Azure.

The important point here is to select the right disk type for your application. That choice depends on the performance level the application requires, cost considerations, and the type of VM being used.

Note that not all disk types are supported in all machine types. Also, there are factors such as IOPS and throughput limits specific to VM types that could impact disk performance.

Azure Files

Azure Files is the managed file share service which can be used to create file shares accessible over the Network File System (NFS) and Server Message Block (SMB) protocols. The file shares can also be accessed programmatically using the Azure Files REST API.

Azure Files offers the flexibility of creating file shares without having to set up or manage a fully-fledged server infrastructure. Azure Files can be used for a variety of other purposes besides just replacing on-premises file servers, including content management, shared drives for application configuration and diagnostics, persistent volumes for containers, and big data analytics.

Customers can also sync the file shares to windows machines on-premises or in the cloud using the Azure File Sync service, which enables hybrid cloud use cases. In any case, the data in these file shares is often the most critical data for an organization.

Depending on the performance requirements, customers can choose from Azure Files standard or premium tier. Standard tier uses HDD in the backend and Premium tier offers superior performance backed by SSDs.

Azure Blob Storage

Object storage is all about unstructured data storage at scale, and Azure offers that through its Azure Blob storage. This data can be text files, binary data, images, documents, video, audio files, etc. If you have a lot of it, and it doesn’t demand high performance, you want to have it on Azure Blob.

The data in Azure Blob storage can be programmatically accessed via HTTP/HTTPs protocol using Azure REST APIs, Azure client libraries, the Azure Portal, or via Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI. Storage accounts can either be Standard general purpose-V2 or premium block blobs which can be used for data lake requirements.

Azure Disk, Azure Files and Blob Storage: Pricing and Performance Comparison

How do these three storage offerings stack up against each other? To find out, review the table below, which compares the cost, size, throughput, performance, access, and permissions features of Azure disk, Azure Files, and Azure Blob storage.


Azure Blob storage

Azure disk

Azure files

Storage Cost (based on the US-East region)

Premium: $0.15/GB

Hot: $0.021/GB for first 50 TB/month, $0.02/GB for next 450 TB/month & $0.0191/GB for over 500 TB/month

Cool: $0.015 /GB

Archive: $0.0099 /GB

Premium SSD: $0.081/GB /month for disk capacity

$0.0052 / provisioned IOPS above 3000

$0.041 / provisioned mb/s throughput over 125 Mb/s

Ultra disk:

$0.11972/GB/month for disk capacity

$0.04964 / provisioned IOPS

$0.34967 / provisioned throughput (MB/s)

Standard SSD and HDD: Costs depend on the provisioned size.

Premium: $0.16 / provisioned GB/month

Standard -Transaction optimized tier: $0.06/used GB/month

Standard - Hot tier: $0.0287/ used GB/month

Standard - Cool tier: $0.0228/used GB/month

Storage size

No upper limit defined, could scale to billions of objects depending on storage size

Maximum disk size of 64 TB (supported by Ultra disk)

100 TB (premium file shares)

File size

Block blob: 190.7 TB

Append blob: 195 GB

Page blob: 8 TB

No upper limit of file size on disk storage

Single files have a maximum size limit of 4 TB

Data throughput

500 request/second for single blob

Page blob: 60 Mb/second

Block blob: depends on storage ingress/egress limit

Standard HDD: up to 500 MB/sec

Standard SSD: up to 750 MB/sec

Premium SSD: up to 1000 mb/sec (for burst throughput)

Ultra disk: 4000 Mb/sec

Depends on file share size. Maximum throughput possible of 10k Mb/s for 100 TB file share


Can support up to 20k requests per second for a storage account by default

Standard HDD: maximum IOPS of 2000

Standard SSD: Maximum IOPS of


Premium SSD: Maximum IOPS of 30k with on-demand bursting

Ultra disk: up to 160k IOPS

Up to 100k (burst IOPS)

Storage architecture

Supports copies within the region (LRS), across different zones in a region (ZRS), and cross region replication (GRS)

Supports copies within the region (LRS) and across different zones in a region (ZRS)

Supports copies within the region (LRS), across different zones in a region (ZRS), and cross region replication (GRS)

Data Access

Can be accessed over the internet based on configured access policies. You can also use tools like Storage Explorer, Azure SDK, and the Azure Blob storage REST API to access the files

Can be accessed only from the virtual machines it is attached to

Accessible over NFS and SMB protocol from on-prem or the cloud. It can also be programmatically accessed using Azure Files REST APIs

File permission / Systems

Permissions to access storage can be configured using storage key, shared access signatures, or Azure AD RBAC

Permissions managed through Azure RBAC

Permissions to access storage can be configured using storage keys, Azure AD RBAC, or on-prem AD credentials synced to Azure AD.


Encryption using Azure-managed or customer-managed keys stored in Azure Key Vault. You can also use customer-provided keys for blob storage read/write operations

Encryption using Azure managed or customer managed keys stored in Azure Key Vault.

Encryption using Azure managed or customer managed keys stored in Azure Key Vault.


Can tolerate one availability zone failure while using ZRS.

Can tolerate one availability zone failure while using ZRS

Can tolerate one availability zone failure while using ZRS


LRS: 11 nines
(99.999999999%) durability for a year

ZRS: 12 nines durability for a year

GRS: 12 nines durability for a year

LRS: 11 nines
(99.999999999%) durability for a year

ZRS: 12 nines durability for a year

LRS: 11 nines
(99.999999999%) durability for a year

ZRS: 12 nines durability for a year

GRS: 12 nines durability for a year

Azure Disk vs. Azure Files

Azure Files costs more compared to Azure disks; however, Azure Files can be accessed from different clients at the same time. Azure disk access is restricted to the VMs to which they are attached.

Now let’s consider how pricing is determined. Both Azure Files and Azure disks charge based on the capacity you provision. However, with Azure Files you have the flexibility to provision the storage size you want whereas with Azure disks you have to choose from a predefined list of disk sizes.

Azure disks are best suited in use cases that need predictable performance through high IOPS and throughput, as, for example, with Azure databases and other enterprise applications. Azure Files supports much larger capacity file shares compared to Azure disks’ maximum disk size. That distinguishes Azure Files as being more relevant for use cases where you need to manage large amounts of data, such as content management, workflows, and data analytics.

Azure Blob Storage vs. Azure Files

Azure Blob storage is typically leveraged in use cases such as data analytics, content distribution, document storage, backup and archival, and media storage. As Azure blobs can provide only limited throughput, it isn’t the storage format that you want to use for performance-intensive workloads.

On the other hand, the Azure Files premium tier offers better performance when compared to Azure blobs. However, you need to do a cost performance analysis: the same storage capacity will cost much more on Azure Files premium tier than it will on Azure Blob.

Getting More From Azure Storage with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Cloud Volumes ONTAP is the data management platform from NetApp can be built on top of storage services from Azure as well as AWS and Google Cloud. By providing additional benefits that aren’t available with those providers out of the box, Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps get the best out of your cloud storage investments by augmenting native storage capabilities.

Additional features and benefits offered by Cloud Volumes ONTAP in Azure:


When it comes to choosing between Azure disks, Azure Files, and Azure Blob storage, the decision will be based on performance requirements of use cases and the associated costs.

While Azure storage could look like the cheapest option, it will not fit into scenarios with high performance requirements. Azure Files, on the other hand, might be on the costlier side when compared to Azure disk and Azure Blob storage, but it offers the scalable and performant shared storage required by many enterprise applications.

You can choose the right storage type based on the above discussed factors to find which is right for you. By leveraging Cloud Volumes ONTAP you’ll be able to further optimize your storage usage, ensure better uptime, and bring down your overall costs.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager