Microsoft launches a new archival storage option for Azure

Microsoft introduced a new storage option for its Azure cloud computing platform in preview today: the Azure Archive Blob Storage. This will give developers a cheaper alternative for the long-term storage of large amounts of archival data like logs, raw camera footage, audio recordings, transcripts and medical documents and images.

This new tier joins the existing hot and cool blob storage tiers on Azure.

The main difference between the cool and archive tiers is that while archival storage is cheaper, the data retrieval costs are higher. Data that’s stored in the archive tier is also not immediately available for retrieval. The blobs first have to be “rehydrated” (Microsoft’s word, not mine) and that can take up to 15 hours for blobs that hold less than 50GB of data.

Like the cool storage tier, Microsoft guarantees 99 percent availability for the archive tier and all the data is automatically encrypted at rest.

Sadly, Microsoft didn’t release any pricing information for Archive Blob Storage yet. Update: It’s now available.

Developers who want to experiment with this tier will also have to apply for access. Microsoft, as usual, notes that this feature shouldn’t be used for production workloads until it hits general availability.

If you ever need to change what tier your data sits in, Microsoft also today announced the launch of blob-level tiering. With this, you can easily change the access tier of a blob with a single command.

Microsoft’s competitors do, of course, also offer their own spins on archival storage (though Microsoft differentiates between blob storage and file storage, which makes the comparison a bit harder). It’s worth noting, though, that Amazon Glacier has been around for years now and that while Google’s Near- and Coldline storage options feel similar to Azure’s Cool and Archival tiers, Coldline data can still be retrieved within seconds.