What is Cold Data Storage? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Louay Chebib
Where do you keep those pictures of your great-grandmother? What about those you took on your honeymoon many, many years ago? These are examples of cold data, and in this lesson, we will discuss the best options for storing these precious items.

What is Cold Data Storage?

Ever wonder how data can be Cold, Warm, or Hot? Classifying your data by temperature is great way to tell what is important and what is not. Different organizations use different definitions. Here is one way to look at it:

Cold Data is critical information/data, which you cannot afford to lose, that you may never need, but you might. You may need it sometime in the future, or you may never need it. Since you do not need this data right away, it may be stored far away in a vault somewhere. Since this information is not needed right away, it may be stored in less expensive ways. Think of a legal document or pictures of your great grandma or those you took on your honeymoon many, many years ago.

  • Hot data is the data that people need to get at right away. It is the data that helps you take an action or find other data. Your contact list is hot data. You need this data to make phone calls, send text messages, or send emails. Other examples are your account numbers, IDs, passwords, and file lists.
  • Warm data is the data people are looking for. Think of this as content. When you are writing an email, the data you enter into your draft is warm data. Copies of your received and sent emails are warm data since you need access to it in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Cold data is the data people want to keep, but may never access. When you need cold data, you can typically wait for someone to go get it. Consider how often you need to look at a five-year-old email, or your mortgage paperwork. If you really need it, can you afford to wait a few hours or a day or two? Another type of cold data is backup data. This is a copy of what is on a device that can be used to recreate your data if the device is lost or damaged or if someone erases something by mistake.

How Do You Store Data?

Computer and data center designers need to figure out the best and least expensive ways to make sure users can get to their data whenever they need it. These designers have a choice of data storage technologies. These include:

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