BLOB – a Visual Depiction of a Binary Large Object

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A Binary Large OBject (BLOB) is like a giant slab of data in the form of a file. It requires large space for storage. Even though it’s a very complex topic, when broken down into sections it all makes sense. I’ve done that for you, creating a simple layout of a blob. Read more to understand how it works.

What Is a BLOB?

A binary large object (blob) is concentrated binary data that’s compressed into an individual file inside a database. The large size of the file means they need special storage treatment. Blobs are binary, which means they are usually images, audio or other media. However, they can also be other forms such as binary code. A blob is made up of raw data in the form of a file though slightly different in makeup.

When the average person hears the word ‘blob’, they think of a giant mass of goo moving around slowly. This is a good representation of the computer blob. It’s a large file that doesn’t fit easily into a single place. Imagine a blob as a catastrophe for a data management system – oozing to and fro in its large form. Another thing that helps categorize it as a gooey, hard-to-control mass is the idea that there is no comprehensive database backing for it.

A picture of a vice squeezing a data storage drive.
A BLOB is compressed data.

Crucial Details About a BLOB

Blobs need large space, especially in comparison with the average data type. Ultimately the amount of data a blob can take on is reliant on the database. Most systems allow large amounts of space and some blobs push upwards of gigabyte sizes. Users often manage different tools that give extensive table sizes so that they can correctly identify how much space their blob needs.

Here’s a real world example of the Blob in action. If a user has hundreds of catalogued digital videos, they could store the videos in a database with a blob data type. That blob would essentially be hundreds of videos all in one big, contained mess (blob). Better yet, imagine a flow of lava scooping up everything in its path. Say that this lava came across the hundreds of videos (in physical disk format). It would corral them all in a messy yet cohesive manner.

A picture of numerous folders on a laptop.
A BLOB organizes large amounts of files.

Software to Consider

A blob is treated differently because in order to share it requires exceptional treatment. A lot of databases don’t maximize a commitment to maintaining the information of something as large as a blob. This makes data management a hefty task, even with powerful servers.

Digital asset management (DAM) systems handle the sharing and retrieval of media files. The blob is essentially a technological label to a multitude of files. Depending on your workload and file storage needs, a DAM increases the efficiency of all operations surrounding blobs.

Make sure you understand the functions of a BLOB when undergoing important projects. Even if you aren’t working directly with these concepts, they’re bound to come up. Prepare yourself for when they arrise.

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and Industry Expert | Canto

Casey Schmidt is a content manager at Canto who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.