Amazon EFS (Elastic File System)

What is Amazon EFS?

Amazon EFS is a cloud-based file storage service for applications and workloads that run in the Amazon Web Services public cloud.

AWS automatically deploys and manages the infrastructure for Elastic File System (EFS), which is distributed across an unlimited number of servers to avoid performance bottlenecks. Amazon EFS provides flexible storage capacity that scales to accommodate workloads that run on AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances and access files through application programming interface (API) requests.

Amazon EFS is designed to be highly available and durable for thousands of EC2 instances that are connected to the service. Amazon EFS stores each file system object in multiple availability zones (AZs); an IT professional can access each file system from different AZs in the region it is located. The service also supports periodic backups from on-premises storage services to EFS for disaster recovery.

IT operations staff can mount an existing file system on an EC2 Linux instance to access it within Amazon EFS or create and manage a new file system from the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line interface, Amazon EFS API or AWS software development kits (SDKs). The Management Console, API and SDK also enable administrators to delete systems and configure access and tags.

The Network File System v4.1 protocol mounts an EFS system on an EC2 instance or an on-premises server to give the service access to data and to enable it to read and write to the file system. The Secure Copy feature transfers non-AWS hosted data to EFS. There must be an established cloud connection via AWS Direct Connect to access on-premises file systems.

The service includes file system access facilities, such as data consistency and file locks. An administrator controls access to the service through AWS Identity and Access Management roles and limits network access through Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) security groups.

Amazon EFS includes default General Purpose performance mode and Max I/O performance mode. An admin can opt for the latter performance mode, which scales to higher throughput levels at the expense of latency for applications with many attached instances.

Pricing for EFS is based on the storage capacity that the file system service uses.

What features does AWS Elastic File System offer?

Amazon EFS includes the following features:

  • Storage options. Amazon EFS offers two storage classes for files -- Standard and One Zone. Both classes are designed to handle the most frequently and least frequently accessed data. With EFS Lifecycle Management, an organization can reduce costs by enabling the automatic transfer of infrequently accessed files from Standard storage to either EFS Standard-Infrequent Access or EFS One Zone-Infrequent Access.
  • Scalable performance. Amazon EFS can provide the throughput, IOPS (input/output per second) and low latency to support a variety of workloads. It is designed to make file storage and access scalable, while minimizing time spent on administration.
  • Secure and compliant. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud is a secure, managed cloud environment that runs applications inside AWS and controls virtual network access to file systems. Amazon VPC enables developers to create VPCs that are fully isolated from other VPCs in AWS. This provides control over AWS networking, including the selection of IP address range, creation of subnets and configuration of route tables and network gateways.

Additionally, application access can be controlled with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), which is a set of services for managing AWS users, groups, roles and policies. It provides a centralized service, which can be used to control access to AWS resources, as well as monitor which users are accessing particular resources.

Amazon EFS backup options

EFS offers the following backup options:

  • AWS DataSync. DataSync helps establish and maintain an always-on connection between on-premises data storage and Amazon EFS file systems, to easily move data between the two. DataSync can be used for regularly importing and exporting large amounts of data, one-time data migrations, or for data replication and recovery.
  • AWS Backup. This managed backup service automates and tracks backup policies for Amazon EFS. For example, when applications are moved to the cloud, it may be difficult to manage data residing in multiple services without manual intervention. AWS Backup enables the configuration and audit of AWS resources and automates backup scheduling.
  • AWS Transfer Family. This set of services enables file transfers in and out of Amazon EFS. It includes three different services for file transfers: Secure File Transfer Protocol, File Transfer Protocol over SSL and File Transfer Protocol.
  • EFS-to-EFS backup. This backup service automatically creates incremental backups of an AWS EFS file. Resources can be defined as code, making it easier to configure, deploy and manage a large number of AWS resources.
  • Amazon S3. Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is an AWS web service for storing data as objects within a large number of storage buckets. Amazon S3 scales automatically to accommodate large collections of data, including objects of any size.
  • Amazon Glacier. This cloud storage service provides secure, durable storage for data archiving and backup. Glacier is designed for infrequently accessed data that can be archived and retrieved at a later time.
This was last updated in July 2021

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