About Azure storage accounts
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Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer is a free, standalone app from Microsoft that enables you to work visually with Azure Storage data on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
An Azure storage account provides a unique namespace to store and access your Azure Storage data objects. All objects in a storage account are billed together as a group. By default, the data in your account is available only to you, the account owner.
There are two types of storage accounts:
General-purpose Storage Accounts
A general-purpose storage account gives you access to Azure Storage services such as Tables, Queues, Files, Blobs and Azure virtual machine disks under a single account. This type of storage account has two performance tiers:
- A standard storage performance tier which allows you to store Tables, Queues, Files, Blobs and Azure virtual machine disks.
- A premium storage performance tier which currently only supports Azure virtual machine disks. See Premium Storage: High-Performance Storage for Azure Virtual Machine Workloads for an in-depth overview of Premium storage.
Blob Storage Accounts
A Blob storage account is a specialized storage account for storing your unstructured data as blobs (objects) in Azure Storage. Blob storage accounts are similar to your existing general-purpose storage accounts and share all the great durability, availability, scalability, and performance features that you use today including 100% API consistency for block blobs and append blobs. For applications requiring only block or append blob storage, we recommend using Blob storage accounts.
Blob storage accounts support only block and append blobs, and not page blobs.
Blob storage accounts expose the Access Tier attribute which can be specified during account creation and modified later as needed. There are two types of access tiers that can be specified based on your data access pattern:
- A Hot access tier which indicates that the objects in the storage account will be more frequently accessed. This allows you to store data at a lower access cost.
- A Cool access tier which indicates that the objects in the storage account will be less frequently accessed. This allows you to store data at a lower data storage cost.
If there is a change in the usage pattern of your data, you can also switch between these access tiers at any time. Changing the access tier may result in additional charges. Please see Pricing and billing for Blob storage accounts for more details.
For more details on Blob storage accounts, see Azure Blob Storage: Cool and Hot tiers.
Before you can create a storage account, you must have an Azure subscription, which is a plan that gives you access to a variety of Azure services. You can get started with Azure with a free account. Once you decide to purchase a subscription plan, you can choose from a variety of purchase options. If you’re an MSDN subscriber, you get free monthly credits that you can use with Azure services, including Azure Storage. See Azure Storage Pricing for information on volume pricing.
To learn how to create a storage account, see Create a storage account for more details. You can create up to 100 uniquely named storage accounts with a single subscription. See Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for details about storage account limits.
Storage account billing
You are billed for Azure Storage usage based on your storage account. Storage costs are based on the following factors: region/location, account type, storage capacity, replication scheme, storage transactions, and data egress.
- Region refers to the geographical region in which your account is based.
- Account type refers to whether you are using a general-purpose storage account or a Blob storage account. With a Blob storage account, the access tier also determines the billing model for the account.
- Storage capacity refers to how much of your storage account allotment you are using to store data.
- Replication determines how many copies of your data are maintained at one time, and in what locations.
- Transactions refer to all read and write operations to Azure Storage.
- Data egress refers to data transferred out of an Azure region. When the data in your storage account is accessed by an application that is not running in the same region, you are charged for data egress. (For Azure services, you can take steps to group your data and services in the same data centers to reduce or eliminate data egress charges.)
The Azure Storage Pricing page provides detailed pricing information based on account type, storage capacity, replication, and transactions. The Data Transfers Pricing Details provides detailed pricing information for data egress. You can use the Azure Storage Pricing Calculator to help estimate your costs.
When you create an Azure virtual machine, a storage account is created for you automatically in the deployment location if you do not already have a storage account in that location. So it's not necessary to follow the steps below to create a storage account for your virtual machine disks. The storage account name will be based on the virtual machine name. See the Azure Virtual Machines documentation for more details.
Storage account endpoints
Every object that you store in Azure Storage has a unique URL address. The storage account name forms the subdomain of that address. The combination of subdomain and domain name, which is specific to each service, forms an endpoint for your storage account.
For example, if your storage account is named mystorageaccount, then the default endpoints for your storage account are:
- Blob service: http://mystorageaccount.blob.core.windows.net
- Table service: http://mystorageaccount.table.core.windows.net
- Queue service: http://mystorageaccount.queue.core.windows.net
- File service: http://mystorageaccount.file.core.windows.net
A Blob storage account only exposes the Blob service endpoint.
The URL for accessing an object in a storage account is built by appending the object's location in the storage account to the endpoint. For example, a blob address might have this format: http://mystorageaccount.blob.core.windows.net/mycontainer/myblob.
You can also configure a custom domain name to use with your storage account. For classic storage accounts, see Configure a custom domain Name for your Blob Storage Endpoint for details. For Resource Manager storage accounts, this capability has not been added to the Azure portal yet, but you can configure it with PowerShell. For more information, see the Set-AzureRmStorageAccount cmdlet.
Create a storage account
- Sign in to the Azure portal.
- On the Hub menu, select New -> Storage -> Storage account.
Enter a name for your storage account. See Storage account endpoints for details about how the storage account name will be used to address your objects in Azure Storage.
Storage account names must be between 3 and 24 characters in length and may contain numbers and lowercase letters only.
Your storage account name must be unique within Azure. The Azure portal will indicate if the storage account name you select is already in use.
Specify the deployment model to be used: Resource Manager or Classic. Resource Manager is the recommended deployment model. For more information, see Understanding Resource Manager deployment and classic deployment.
Blob storage accounts can only be created using the Resource Manager deployment model.
Select the type of storage account: General purpose or Blob storage. General purpose is the default.
If General purpose was selected, then specify the performance tier: Standard or Premium. The default is Standard. For more details on standard and premium storage accounts, see Introduction to Microsoft Azure Storage and Premium Storage: High-Performance Storage for Azure Virtual Machine Workloads.
If Blob Storage was selected, then specify the access tier: Hot or Cool. The default is Hot. See Azure Blob Storage: Cool and Hot tiers for more details.
- Select the replication option for the storage account: LRS, GRS, RA-GRS, or ZRS. The default is RA-GRS. For more details on Azure Storage replication options, see Azure Storage replication.
- Select the subscription in which you want to create the new storage account.
- Specify a new resource group or select an existing resource group. For more information on resource groups, see Azure Resource Manager overview.
- Select the geographic location for your storage account. See Azure Regions for more information about what services are available in which region.
- Click Create to create the storage account.
Manage your storage account
Change your account configuration
After you create your storage account, you can modify its configuration, such as changing the replication option used for the account or changing the access tier for a Blob storage account. In the Azure portal, navigate to your storage account, click All settings and then click Configuration to view and/or change the account configuration.
Depending on the performance tier you chose when creating the storage account, some replication options may not be available.
Changing the replication option will change your pricing. For more details, see Azure Storage Pricing page.
For Blob storage accounts, changing the access tier may incur charges for the change in addition to changing your pricing. Please see the Blob storage accounts - Pricing and Billing for more details.
Manage your storage access keys
When you create a storage account, Azure generates two 512-bit storage access keys, which are used for authentication when the storage account is accessed. By providing two storage access keys, Azure enables you to regenerate the keys with no interruption to your storage service or access to that service.
We recommend that you avoid sharing your storage access keys with anyone else. To permit access to storage resources without giving out your access keys, you can use a shared access signature. A shared access signature provides access to a resource in your account for an interval that you define and with the permissions that you specify. See Using Shared Access Signatures (SAS) for more information.
View and copy storage access keys
In the Azure portal, navigate to your storage account, click All settings and then click Access keys to view, copy, and regenerate your account access keys. The Access Keys blade also includes pre-configured connection strings using your primary and secondary keys that you can copy to use in your applications.
Regenerate storage access keys
We recommend that you change the access keys to your storage account periodically to help keep your storage connections secure. Two access keys are assigned so that you can maintain connections to the storage account by using one access key while you regenerate the other access key.
Regenerating your access keys can affect services in Azure as well as your own applications that are dependent on the storage account. All clients that use the access key to access the storage account must be updated to use the new key.
Media services - If you have media services that are dependent on your storage account, you must re-sync the access keys with your media service after you regenerate the keys.
Applications - If you have web applications or cloud services that use the storage account, you will lose the connections if you regenerate keys, unless you roll your keys.
Storage Explorers - If you are using any storage explorer applications, you will probably need to update the storage key used by those applications.
Here is the process for rotating your storage access keys:
- Update the connection strings in your application code to reference the secondary access key of the storage account.
- Regenerate the primary access key for your storage account. On the Access Keys blade, click Regenerate Key1, and then click Yes to confirm that you want to generate a new key.
- Update the connection strings in your code to reference the new primary access key.
- Regenerate the secondary access key in the same manner.
Delete a storage account
To remove a storage account that you are no longer using, navigate to the storage account in the Azure portal, and click Delete. Deleting a storage account deletes the entire account, including all data in the account.
It's not possible to restore a deleted storage account or retrieve any of the content that it contained before deletion. Be sure to back up anything you want to save before you delete the account. This also holds true for any resources in the account—once you delete a blob, table, queue, or file, it is permanently deleted.
To delete a storage account that is associated with an Azure virtual machine, you must first ensure that any virtual machine disks have been deleted. If you do not first delete your virtual machine disks, then when you attempt to delete your storage account, you will see an error message similar to:
Failed to delete storage account <vm-storage-account-name>. Unable to delete storage account <vm-storage-account-name>: 'Storage account <vm-storage-account-name> has some active image(s) and/or disk(s). Ensure these image(s) and/or disk(s) are removed before deleting this storage account.'.
If the storage account uses the Classic deployment model, you can remove the virtual machine disk by following these steps in the Azure portal:
- Navigate to the classic Azure portal.
- Navigate to the Virtual Machines tab.
- Click the Disks tab.
- Select your data disk, then click Delete Disk.
- To delete disk images, navigate to the Images tab and delete any images that are stored in the account.
For more information, see the Azure Virtual Machine documentation.