Amazon S3 or Azure File Storage: Which Cloud-Based Storage Service Is Better for Small Business?

Cloud File Sharing

Cloud-based storage services are a flexible and cost-effective solution for storing and managing data. A wide range of options are available, and the market for these solutions is expected to grow to more than $376.37 billion by 2029. But which offering is right for your business?


Two major offerings — Amazon S3 (S3) and Microsoft Azure File Storage (AFS) — have dominated the conversation in recent years. Clients often ask us which service is better, and our answer is always the same: they’re both extraordinarily strong offerings, but it depends entirely upon your business case.  For example, if you’re replacing a legacy file server with data of limited use that isn’t overly sensitive, consider these two inexpensive options that won’t have any impact on your user’s workflow.  If S3 and AFS are implemented properly, you’ll simply access your files through a shared drive folder (on Windows) or Mac (Server Drive) the way you always have.  Now, if you have extremely sensitive data, regulated data, and the need for constant access and sharing, AFS and S3 might have frustrating limitations.


In this quick guide, we’ll break down the similarities and differences between Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage — and then we’ll discuss a couple of other popular options for cloud file storage & sharing.


Note: these offerings are always evolving. Make sure to check the latest research for the most accurate info, or just give us a call to discuss whether Amazon S3 or Azure File Storage is right for you.


What are the similarities between Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage?


Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage are both cloud-based storage services that are designed for replacement of legacy on-premises servers. The two services are broadly similar in the following ways:


  • Durability. One of the most critical aspects of any storage solution is durability — in short, how well it protects your data from corruption or loss. Both Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage deliver impressive levels of durability, with Amazon designed for at least 11 nines of durability (99.99999999999%) and Azure for at least nine nines (99.999999999%).
  • Scalability. Both services are purpose-built to handle high-volume, high-velocity workloads, with the capacity to store petabytes of data and scale on demand.
  • Security. Both Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage offer robust data security features, with built-in support for access controls, audit logs and encryption in transit and at rest, though it depends on which package you choose.
  • Integration. Both services are designed to integrate with cloud services offered by their respective providers, making it possible to incorporate them seamlessly into even the most complex multi-cloud environments.


What are the differences between Amazon S3 and Azure File Storage?


While these two services are quite similar in broad strokes, they remain distinct in a few ways:


  • Speed. In our testing, Azure File Storage runs slightly faster than Amazon S3. This is a differentiator in our book, and it’s one of the reasons why we often recommend Azure over Amazon for cloud-based storage.
  • Global availability. Amazon S3 is available in more regions worldwide than Azure File Storage, making it a better choice for organizations with a broader global footprint.
  • Cost. Their cost structures are nearly identical. As an example, for Hot Data-at-rest storage, Azure Files pricing is .0255 per GB per month (as of 4/25/2023), and AWS S3 comes in at .023 per GB per month.


So, which is better for your business: Amazon S3 or Azure File Storage?


For most customers that rely heavily on the Microsoft ecosystem of products, we would recommend Azure File Sharing.


Are there any other options we should consider?


If you ask us which is the most robust cloud-based storage service overall if cost were no object, our #1 recommendation for most organizations isn’t Amazon S3 or Azure File Storage — it’s Egnyte.

Egnyte is simple to use, on par with Dropbox (which we regularly deploy). It offers a broader array of features than either Amazon S3 or Azure File Storage, but a completely different user interface. It’s also considerably more secure, with granular access controls, built-in ransomware protection and comprehensive auditing and reporting features.  So, for customers in highly regulated verticals, it’s Egnyte.


The major drawback to Egnyte is the price: at $20 per user per month, it’s more expensive than the offerings from Amazon or Azure. But for most organizations, we believe that the extra expense can be worth the price — especially if security is a major concern.


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