Network Block Device


A Network Block Device (NBD) is a protocol that enables the usage of remote storage devices as if they were local block devices. It operates over a network, allowing clients to access and treat these remote storage devices like hard drives or SSDs physically connected to their systems. NBD simplifies storage management and offers a more flexible approach to data storage and retrieval over networks.

Key Takeaways

  1. Network Block Device (NBD) is a Linux-based protocol that allows a remote server to access and utilize the storage devices and resources available on another server or computer across a network.
  2. It enables block-level operations on files and devices over a network connection, which is beneficial in distributing storage and services such as disk imaging, thin provisioning, and virtualization.
  3. NBD is known for its simplicity and flexibility, as it supports different types of storage devices, including SSDs, HDDs, or virtual storage, and can work with various file formats, such as ext4, NTFS, or XFS.


The technology term “Network Block Device” (NBD) is important because it enables the efficient and convenient sharing of storage devices across a network, thereby enhancing the accessibility of data and improving storage scalability.

NBD acts as a bridge between local storage and remote systems by integrating a block storage device into the remote system, effectively allowing it to be treated as a local resource.

This proves to be valuable in various computing environments ranging from data centers to personal networks as it simplifies storage management, reduces hardware investment, and facilitates collaboration among users.

Furthermore, NBD’s compatibility with different network protocols and storage mediums makes it a versatile technology, ensuring seamless connectivity and adaptability across various computing landscapes.


Network Block Device (NBD) is a technology designed to enable remote access to storage devices over a network, allowing users to leverage the resources of other connected devices efficiently. This approach is particularly useful in scenarios involving distributed computing, virtualization setups or cloud-based infrastructures, wherein accessing remote storage devices as if they were local to the system is crucial.

By bridging the gap between the network and the storage device, NBD facilitates a seamless communication of data between servers and clients, enhancing productivity, storage capacity and overall performance. The primary purpose of a Network Block Device is to consolidate storage resources by creating a virtualized storage pool, which can be accessed and managed from a centralized server, regardless of their physical location in the network.

This allows organizations to optimize their storage infrastructure and devise efficient strategies for data management and processing. One notable application of NBD is in the domain of network-attached storage (NAS), where remote devices can tap into the device’s storage volume for data access and sharing purposes.

Additionally, NBD’s ability to provide block-level access to remote storage devices makes it suitable for use with various file systems and storage protocols, further expanding its applicability in different storage and networking environments.

Examples of Network Block Device

A Network Block Device (NBD) is a protocol that enables the sharing of a block device (like a hard drive, SSD, or USB storage) across a network. It allows a client to utilize a remote storage device as it would with a local one. Here are three real-world examples of NBD usage:

Distributed Backup System: An organization can set up a distributed backup system using NBD whereby multiple servers in different locations act as clients that store data remotely on an NBD server. In case any server experiences a local storage failure, the network block device can provide a remote backup, ensuring seamless data recovery.

Remote Disk Image Management: System administrators can use NBD for managing remote disk images, such as VHD or qcow2 images, in virtualization environments. By sharing a virtual disk image over the network using NBD, the remote machine can be booted in a virtual environment, allowing administrators to perform tasks like maintenance, data recovery, or testing without directly accessing the host machine.

Diskless Operation: NBD can be used in a diskless client-server setup where a client computer entirely depends on remote storage provided by a server. By using an NBD to boot, clients can access shared applications and storage resources directly from the server, reducing hardware requirements and simplifying administration. This is particularly useful for thin clients, embedded systems, or educational institutions with computer labs.

Network Block Device FAQs

1. What is a Network Block Device?

A Network Block Device (NBD) is a Linux kernel module that allows users to access and use block devices such as hard drives, SSDs, or other storage devices over a network. It enables remote access to these devices and makes it easy to share storage resources within a networked environment.

2. How does Network Block Device work?

Network Block Device operates by using a server-client model. The server exposes the block device to the network, and the client connects to the server to access and utilize the shared storage. NBD communicates using the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which allows for flexibility and compatibility with various network configurations.

3. What are the benefits of using a Network Block Device?

Some benefits of using NBD include centralized storage management, improved data availability, and the ability to create storage clusters. It allows you to decrease hardware costs by using fewer physical storage devices and makes it easier to perform backups, disaster recovery, and data migration.

4. Is Network Block Device secure?

While NBD does not have built-in encryption or authentication, you can secure the connection between the NBD server and clients using tools such as SSH tunneling or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Additionally, it is crucial to implement proper network security measures like firewalls and network segmentation to protect the data stored on NBD devices.

5. How do I set up a Network Block Device?

Setting up an NBD involves configuring both the server and client systems. On the server side, you’ll need to install the NBD server software, configure the exposed block device, and start the server service. On the client side, you’ll need to install NBD client software, connect to the server by specifying the server’s address and exported device, and mount the remote block device locally.

Related Technology Terms

  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • Storage Area Network (SAN)
  • Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
  • Network File System (NFS)
  • Logical Unit Number (LUN)

Sources for More Information


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