When it comes to viewing and interacting with your content in Azure Storage Services, there are plenty of options. Some of these are tools are provided and maintained by Microsoft; some others are from third parties. We have also discussed some other options in this series such as Classic and the new Azure Portal, PowerShell, AzureCLI, REST API, or even Python used with the Azure Storage Library.
Let me give you a short overview of tools that you might find useful for your daily Azure Storage tasks.
Storage Explorer ^
Storage Explorer is a cross-platform desktop application that provides visibility for your Azure Storage accounts. You can download Storage Explorer for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Storage Explorer enables you to access and browse your content in multiple storage accounts. Each version also offers extended capabilities, such as dealing with containers, queues, tables, and file shares. Most basic operations are already embedded in the tool, and you can easily achieve some of your daily maintenance tasks with it.
One of the best things about the new version is that it also supports either ARM-based or Classic deployments.
There are different options for connecting to your storage account. You can simply provide your SAS URI or account key for particular storage accounts, or you might want to sign into your subscription. If you choose to sign into your Azure account, subscriptions associated with this account will be listed.
Then all associated storage accounts will be shown in the left pane.
You can take a variety of actions, such as: editing blob properties/metadata, uploading blobs and folders, viewing or querying entities in tables, adding or deleting messages, and creating file shares.
On the top right hand side, you can see all available options available for this newly created file share.
You can also manage Stored Access Policies for different storage services.
In a nutshell, it’s a pretty powerful cross-platform tool that covers most daily operational tasks you may want to achieve with Azure cloud storage services.
Azure Web Storage Explorer ^
You need to provide your storage account name and access key.
Web Storage Explorer’s main differentiator is that it has a web-based interface, which means you can access it from anywhere without needing a local application or SDK.
Just like other tools, you can interact with blobs, tables, and queues. But the main question is: why would you want to use a web-based storage explorer rather than using the official Azure portal?
I also have to say that its GUI is nowhere close to being user friendly compared to other available tools or the Azure Portal.
ClumsyLeaf – AzureXplorer ^
AzureXplorer from ClumsyLeaf is a VS extension that helps you to manage storage accounts and interact with tables, blobs, and queues.
Once you complete the installation, you need to click View » Other Windows » AzureXplorer in Visual Studio and add your subscription/storage accounts.
Along with view capabilities, AzureXplorer also brings some advanced features, such as advanced filtering, export/import options, test data generator, drag-and-drop, and so on. It goes without saying that all these advanced features are available with a license.
Visual Studio Server Explorer ^
Azure Tools for Visual Studio extends the capabilities of Visual Studio to support the deployment and management of your applications across on-premises and Azure infrastructure. With the latest version of Azure Tools, you can set up a complete cloud infrastructure using Azure Resource Manager.
One other advantage of Azure Tools for Visual Studio is that you can also leverage an existing Server Explorer node in VS to display all of your storage accounts and associated storage services.
To start viewing and managing your resources in Server Explorer, it’s sufficient to login to your Azure subscription and expand your storage account’s node in Server Explorer:
Azure Tools also helps you to interact with blobs, queues, and tables. You can create or delete blobs and containers, add or delete messages to/from existing queues, view or create tables, and interact with table data.
It’s also possible to create a new storage account by using Server Explorer. You can simply select “Create Storage Account” from the Server Explorer pane to do this.
I have personally started using Visual Studio with PowerShell tools. It’s a great extension for developing and debugging your PS scripts. Then I started to develop my ARM templates in VS. With the ability to interact with Azure Storage resources using Azure Tools, there is no doubt that Visual Studio will be getting more and more attention from datacenter engineers.
There are also other free and commercial tools available. This Microsoft page noted keeps track of these tools and their current functionalities.
That was the last part of our Azure Storage Services series. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feedback!