What is Cloud Storage?

This page discusses basic Cloud Storage concepts and terminology. For a more in-depth explanation of key concepts, see Key Terms or other concept pages.

Cloud Storage is a service for storing your objects in Google Cloud. An object is an immutable piece of data consisting of a file of any format. You store objects in containers called buckets. All buckets are associated with a project, and you can group your projects under an organization.

After you create a project, you can create Cloud Storage buckets, upload objects to your buckets, and download objects from your buckets. You can also grant permissions to make your data accessible to principals you specify, or - for certain use cases such as hosting a website - accessible to everyone on the public internet.

The Cloud Storage structure looks like this:

Diagram of Cloud Storage infrastructure

Example of Google Cloud hierarchy

Here's how the Cloud Storage structure can apply to a real-world case:

  • Organization: Your company, called Example Inc., creates a Google Cloud organization called exampleinc.org.

  • Project: Example Inc. is building several applications, and each one is associated with a project. Each project has its own set of Cloud Storage APIs, as well as other resources.

  • Bucket: Each project can contain multiple buckets, which are containers to store your objects. For example, you might create a photos bucket for all the image files your app generates and a separate videos bucket.

  • Object: An individual file, such as an image called puppy.png.

Basic tools for Cloud Storage

Here are some basic ways you can interact with Cloud Storage:

  • Console: The Google Cloud Console provides a visual interface for you to manage your data in a browser.

  • gsutil: gsutil is a command-line tool that allows you to interact with Cloud Storage through a terminal. If you use other Google Cloud services, you can download the Cloud SDK, which includes gsutil along with the gcloud tool for other services.

  • Client libraries: The Cloud Storage client libraries allow you to manage your data using one of your preferred languages, including C++, C#, Go, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

  • REST APIs: Manage your data using the JSON or XML API.

Securing your data

Once you upload your objects to Cloud Storage, you have fine-grained control over how you secure and share your data. Here are some ways to secure the data you upload to Cloud Storage:

  • Identity and Access Management: Use IAM to control who has access to the resources in your Google Cloud project. Resources include Cloud Storage buckets and objects, as well as other Google Cloud entities such as Compute Engine instances. You can grant principals certain types of access to buckets and objects, such as update, create, or delete.

  • Data encryption: Cloud Storage uses server-side encryption to encrypt your data by default. You can also use supplemental data encryption options such as customer-managed encryption keys and customer-supplied encryption keys.

  • Authentication: Ensure that anyone who accesses your data has proper credentials.

  • Bucket Lock: Govern how long objects in buckets must be retained by specifying a retention policy.

  • Object Versioning: When a live version of an object is replaced or deleted, it can be retained as a noncurrent version if you enable Object Versioning.

Use cases for Cloud Storage

You can get started with Hosting a static website to learn how to upload and share your site's files through a Cloud Storage bucket. To learn how to use Cloud Storage with other Google Cloud services, covering a variety of topics including Big Data, web development, machine learning, and containers, see Google Cloud tutorials using Cloud Storage.

Looking for other products?

If Cloud Storage is not the right storage solution for you, see more information about the following storage services:

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