What is a BLOB (Binary Large Object)? Can it be Tokenized?
This blog was originally published by TokenEx here.
Written by Anni Burchfiel, TokenEx.
BLOB stands for a “Binary Large Object,” a data type that stores binary data. Binary Large Objects (BLOBs) can be complex files like images or videos, unlike other data strings that only store letters and numbers.
A BLOB will hold multimedia objects to add to a database; however, not all databases support BLOB storage. Because of their complex nature, BLOBs will also not be easily readable by most databases. These file types are better comprehended by humans instead of software. The complexity of a BLOB both gives it its value, but also can make it difficult to utilize.
What is BLOB used for?
Although they can consist of either structured or unstructured data, BLOBs are mostly used in SQL (Standard Query Language) to store unstructured data files. Because BLOBs are used to store multimedia files, they are often large pieces of data, up to several gigabytes. Even though this kind of data is not easily read by databases or algorithms, they are still important pieces of data to store for your business.
BLOB (Binary Large Object) Examples
While Binary Large objects can be structured data, or semi-structured data like XML files, most often they are unstructured data. Common BLOB examples are:
- Video (MP4, MOV)
- Audio (MP3)
- Images (JPG, PNG, PDF, RAW)
- Graphics (GIF)
Types of BLOBs
There are three different types of BLOBs:
Block BLOBs store binary data files, like documents or images. They were created to upload large amounts of data efficiently, and each block blob can include up to 50,000 blocks. Block BLOBs are managed and stored individually, each block in the BLOB can be a different size. They can store around 190 Tebibytes (2^40 bytes) of data.
Append BLOBs are similar to Block BLOBs, except they are optimized for append operations. Blocks are added to the end of BLOB only, creating a chain of blocks that can store around 195 Gibibytes (2^30 bytes) of data.
Page BLOBs are useful for I/O (Input/Output) operations. They are made of 512-byte pages and store VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) files. They can store around 8 Tebibytes (2^40 bytes) of data.
How to Securely Store BLOBs
Storing BLOBs can be tricky, as they are larger, more complex files. As they are unreadable by algorithm, BLOB storage should allow approved users to open and examine the files to maximize their utility.
While there are different ways to store BLOBs, a common way is through Azure BLOB Storage. Azure storage supports Block Blobs, Append BLOBs, and Page BLOBs.
If your BLOB files contain any sensitive data, you may need to find a way to secure it for compliance purposes. If you’re looking to secure BLOB files, especially unstructured data, encryption will probably be the best option. Identifying the type of data you need to secure will help you find the best match for your needs.
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