top of page

AWS EFS: Tips and Best Practices for Cloud-Based File Systems

What Is AWS EFS?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic File System (EFS) is a cloud-based file storage service that offers scalable, elastic, and secure file storage for use with AWS Cloud services and on-premises resources. It is designed to provide a simple, scalable, fully managed elastic NFS file system for use with AWS cloud services and on-premises resources. AWS EFS is built to be highly available and durable, automatically replicating your data within a region to protect against data loss.

EFS is particularly beneficial for applications and workloads that require a file system interface and file system semantics. It allows multiple EC2 instances to access a common file system concurrently, providing a high level of throughput and I/O performance. This shared access across multiple instances makes it ideal for applications that require a centralized file repository, such as content repositories, development environments, and home directories. AWS EFS also complies with various industry standards, including PCI-DSS, ISO, and HIPAA, ensuring secure and reliable storage for sensitive data.

Use Cases for AWS EFS

Shared File Storage for Cloud Applications

AWS EFS is an excellent solution for cloud applications that require shared access to file data. It provides a common data source for applications to read and write, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring high availability and durability. For instance, content management systems, development environments, web server farms, home directories, and many more applications can benefit from the shared file storage capability of AWS EFS.

AWS EFS file systems can be accessed by multiple EC2 instances from different Availability Zones, so multiple applications can share common datasets, providing the ability to scale and perform better. AWS EFS also supports file locking and consistency, which is crucial for applications that require simultaneous read and write operations.

Data Analytics and Big Data Processing

AWS EFS can be used for big data and analytics applications that require high-speed access to large datasets. Because AWS EFS scales automatically to petabytes of storage, it can handle the large data sets typically used in big data analytics. AWS EFS provides the high throughput and low latency needed for fast, parallel data processing.

AWS EFS is also Hadoop compatible, meaning you can use it with your existing Hadoop applications. It can handle the high concurrency, high throughput, and low latency requirements of big data workloads, making it an excellent choice for data lake architectures.

Content Management and Web Serving

Content management systems (CMS) and web servers often require a shared, scalable, and reliable file storage system. AWS EFS provides these capabilities, making it a great choice for these use cases. With AWS EFS, you can easily manage, store, and serve web content and media files.

AWS EFS also integrates well with other AWS services such as Amazon EC2 for computing resources and Amazon S3 for object storage. This makes it easy to build a highly scalable and reliable web serving and CMS solution on AWS.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions

AWS EFS can be used as a target for backup and disaster recovery solutions. It provides a durable and reliable storage solution for backing up critical data. With its support for file system snapshots, you can easily create point-in-time copies of your file systems. These snapshots can be used for backup or for disaster recovery purposes.

AWS EFS also integrates with AWS Backup, a fully managed backup service that makes it easy to centralize and automate the backup of data across AWS services. With AWS Backup, you can configure backup policies, monitor backup activity, and recover backups when needed.

Tips and Best Practices for Using AWS EFS

Choosing the Right Performance Mode

AWS EFS offers two performance modes: general purpose and max I/O. General purpose mode is suitable for most workloads, offering lower latency for file operations. Max I/O mode scales to higher levels of aggregate throughput and operations per second, but with slightly higher latencies. It is best for highly parallelized and big data workloads. Choose the performance mode that best fits your workload requirements.

Enabling Encryption at Rest and in Transit

Security is a crucial aspect of any cloud service. AWS EFS offers built-in support for encryption at rest and in transit. Encryption at rest automatically encrypts your data before it is written to the file system, and decrypts it when read. Encryption in transit uses the industry-standard Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol to protect your data as it travels between your file system and your EC2 instances.

Using EFS Lifecycle Management for Cost Efficiency

AWS EFS offers a feature called EFS Lifecycle Management that can help you reduce storage costs. This feature automatically moves files that are not accessed for a certain period of time from the performance storage class to the infrequent access storage class, which costs less. You can choose the age threshold for moving files, giving you control over your storage costs.

Leveraging Automatic Scaling Features

One of the key benefits of AWS EFS is its automatic scaling capability. The file system grows and shrinks as you add and remove files, eliminating the need for capacity planning. To make the most of this feature, monitor your file system's metrics using Amazon CloudWatch to understand your usage patterns and adjust your workloads as necessary.

Multi-AZ Deployment for Redundancy and Failover

AWS EFS supports deploying your file system across multiple Availability Zones (AZs). This provides high availability and redundancy for your data. If an issue occurs in one AZ, your file system remains accessible in the other AZs. Multi-AZ deployment also enables you to balance your workload and traffic across several AZs, improving the performance and reliability of your applications.

Implementing Backup Strategies with AWS Backup

As mentioned earlier, AWS EFS integrates with AWS Backup, making it easy to back up your file systems. AWS Backup provides centralized backup across AWS services, and enables you to automate backup scheduling, set retention policies, and monitor recent backups. It's a best practice to regularly back up your AWS EFS file systems to safeguard your data against accidental deletion or system failures.

In conclusion, AWS EFS provides a highly scalable, reliable, and secure file storage solution for a wide range of use cases. By understanding its features and best practices, you can leverage AWS EFS to meet your application's file storage needs effectively.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.




Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page