Hadoop Distributed File System

What is Hadoop Distributed File System?

The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) is a big data storage component of the Hadoop framework. Primarily used for storing and processing vast amounts of data, its distributed and scalable architecture makes it well-suited for applications dealing with petabytes of data.


HDFS was developed by the Apache Software Foundation, as a part of the Hadoop project, with its first released in 2006. It is inspired by the Google File System (GFS) and has undergone several updates since its inception to improve its efficiency, scalability, and reliability.

Functionality and Features

HDFS operates on a master/slave architecture. The master node, known as the NameNode, manages the filesystem namespace and client access. The slave nodes, or DataNodes, store the actual data. HDFS splits large data files into smaller blocks, distributing them across multiple nodes for storage and processing.


The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) is designed to be robust and fault-tolerant, featuring high throughput and supporting big data sets. The architecture consists of:

  • NameNode: The master server that manages the file system namespace and regulates access to files by clients.
  • DataNodes: The slave nodes that manage storage attached to the nodes that they run on.

Benefits and Use Cases

HDFS is widely used across many industries due to its flexibility, fault tolerance, and high-processing speed. It is ideal for applications that require processing large volumes of data, such as analytics and data mining. Additionally, it features easy scalability and cross-platform compatibility.

Challenges and Limitations

Despite its advantages, HDFS also has limitations. Some of these include a lack of storage efficiency, difficulty in managing small files, and issues with handling simultaneous read and write commands.

Integration with Data Lakehouse

Even as businesses transition towards a data lakehouse setup, HDFS can still play a crucial role. HDFS can be used as a storage layer in the data lakehouse, serving as an efficient solution for storing and managing big data.

Security Aspects

HDFS provides basic security measures, such as file permissions and authentication. However, for more robust security, it's often combined with other tools like Kerberos, Apache Ranger, or Hadoop's own, built-in security features.


HDFS provides high-throughput access to application data and is designed to run on commodity hardware. Its distributed and scalable nature ensures performance even with massive data sets.


When compared to traditional databases, HDFS provides superior performance for processing large data sets. However, it is not optimized for handling small files or low-latency data access. In a data lakehouse setup, newer technologies like Dremio may offer improved flexibility and efficiency.


1. What is HDFS and why is it important? HDFS is a distributed file system designed to store and process large amounts of data across clusters of computers. It forms the storage layer of Hadoop, making it possible to handle big data challenges.

2. How does HDFS handle data? HDFS splits large data files into smaller blocks, distributing them across multiple nodes for concurrent processing. This improves scalability and processing speed.

3. How does HDFS fit into a Data Lakehouse? HDFS can serve as the massive scale storage layer in a data lakehouse, providing a cost-effective solution for big data storage and management.

4. How secure is HDFS? HDFS has basic security measures in place, including file permissions and authentication. However, for comprehensive security, integration with additional tools is often required.

5. How does HDFS compare to Dremio? Dremio and HDFS serve different purposes. While HDFS is a data storage system, Dremio is a data lake engine that can work with HDFS, providing capabilities for querying, processing, and analyzing data stored in HDFS.


DataNode: The component of HDFS that stores actual data in the Hadoop cluster.

NameNode: The master server in Hadoop architecture that manages the file system namespace.

Data Lakehouse: A modern data architecture that unifies the best attributes of data warehouses and data lakes into a single, unified system.

Dremio: A data lake engine that simplifies and accelerates data analytics.

Kerberos: A network authentication protocol designed to provide strong authentication for client/server applications.

get started

Get Started Free

No time limit - totally free - just the way you like it.

Sign Up Now
demo on demand

See Dremio in Action

Not ready to get started today? See the platform in action.

Watch Demo
talk expert

Talk to an Expert

Not sure where to start? Get your questions answered fast.

Contact Us

Ready to Get Started?

Bring your users closer to the data with organization-wide self-service analytics and lakehouse flexibility, scalability, and performance at a fraction of the cost. Run Dremio anywhere with self-managed software or Dremio Cloud.