blobxfer Performance Considerations

Please read the following carefully regarding considerations that should be applied with regard to performance and blobxfer. Additionally, please review the Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for an overview of general performance targets that apply to Azure Blobs, File shares and Storage Account types (GRS, LRS, ZRS, etc).


  • blobxfer offers four concurrency knobs. Each one should be tuned for maximum performance according to your system and network characteristics.
    • Disk threads: concurrency in reading (uploads) and writing (downloads) to disk is controlled by the number of disk threads.
    • Transfer threads: concurrency in the number of threads transferring from/to Azure Storage is controlled by the number of transfer threads.
    • MD5 processes: computing MD5 for potential omission from transfer due to skip_on md5_match being specified are offloaded to the specified number of processors.
    • Crypto processes: decrypting encrypted blobs and files can be offloaded to the specified number of processors. Due to the inherent non-parallelizable encryption algorithm used, this is ignored for encryption (uploads).
  • The thread concurrency options (disk and transfer) can be set to a non-positive number to be automatically set as a multiple of the number of cores available on the machine.
  • For uploads, there should be a sufficient number of disk threads to ensure that all transfer threads have work to do. For downloads, there should be sufficient number of disk threads to write data to disk so transfer threads are not artificially blocked.

Chunk Sizing

Chunk sizing refers to the chunk_size_bytes option and the meaning of which varies upon the context of uploading or downloading.


blobxfer uses two timeout values, a connect timeout and a read timeout. The read timeout should be set to something that is reasonably large enough to transmit each chunk given your bandwidth limitations.


For uploads, chunk sizes correspond to the maximum amount of data to transfer with a single request. The Azure Storage service imposes maximums depending upon the type of entity that is being written. For block blobs, the maximum is 100MiB (although you may "one-shot" up to 256MiB). For page blobs, the maximum is 4MiB. For append blobs, the maximum is 4MiB. For Azure Files, the maximum is 4MiB.

For block blobs, setting the chunk size to something greater than 4MiB will not only allow you larger file sizes (recall that the maximum number of blocks for a block blob is 50000, thus at 100MiB blocks, you can create a 4.768TiB block blob object) but will allow you to amortize larger portions of data transfer over each request/response overhead. blobxfer can automatically select the proper block size given your file, but will not automatically tune the chunk size as that depends upon your system and network characteristics.


For downloads, chunk sizes correspond to the maximum amount of data to request from the server for each request. It is important to keep a balance between the chunk size and the number of in-flight operations afforded by the transfer_threads concurrency control. blobxfer does not automatically tune this (but can automatically set it to a value that should work for most situations) due to varying system and network conditions.

Additionally, disk write performance is typically lower than disk read performance so you need to ensure that the number of disk_threads is not set to a very large number to prevent thrashing and highly random write patterns.

Azure File Share Performance

File share performance can be "slow" or become a bottleneck, especially for file shares containing thousands of files as multiple REST calls must be performed for each file. Currently, a single file share has a limit of up to 60 MB/s and 1000 8KB IOPS. Please refer to the Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for performance targets and limits regarding Azure Storage File shares. If scalable high performance is required, consider using Blob storage instead.

MD5 Hashing

MD5 hashing will impose some performance penalties to check if the file should be uploaded or downloaded. For instance, if uploading and the local file is determined to be different than its remote counterpart, then the time spent performing the MD5 comparison is effectively "lost."

Client-side Encryption

Client-side encryption will naturally impose a performance penalty on blobxfer both for uploads (encrypting) and downloads (decrypting) depending upon the processor speed and number of cores available. Additionally, for uploads, encryption is not parallelizable within an object and is in-lined with the main process.

Resume Files (Databases)

Enabling resume support may slightly impact performance as a key-value shelve for bookkeeping is kept on disk and is updated frequently.


As of requests 2.6.0 and Python versions < 2.7.9 (i.e., interpreter found on default Ubuntu 14.04 installations, 16.04 is not affected), if certain packages are installed, as those found in requests[security] then the underlying urllib3 package will utilize the ndg-httpsclient package which will use pyOpenSSL. This will ensure the peers are fully validated. However, this incurs a rather larger performance penalty. If you understand the potential security risks for disabling this behavior due to high performance requirements, you can either remove ndg-httpsclient or use blobxfer in a virtualenv environment without the ndg-httpsclient package. Python versions >= 2.7.9 are not affected by this issue.

Additionally, urllib3 (which requests uses) may use pyOpenSSL which may result in exceptions being thrown that are not normalized by urllib3. This may result in exceptions that should be retried, but are not. It is recommended to upgrade your Python where pyOpenSSL is not required for fully validating peers and such that blobxfer can operate without pyOpenSSL in a secure fashion. You can also run blobxfer via Docker or in a virtualenv environment without pyOpenSSL.