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Storage Mediums for Data Backup.

When it comes to backing up old digital data there are a lot of various options to storing data in different formats.

This could vary between different medium types, disk setups, connectivity etc.

The two main types of data setups include Hot (or) Active data storage, and Cold data storage.

What's the difference between hot and cold storage mediums, and why does it matter ?

Difference between Hot and Cold storage mediums:

Hot data is active information that changes and is used daily. That means it has to be agile and on standby.

Cold data is inactive data that retains mostly static information. For example bulk data that only gets read on infrequent intervals.

This information (cold data) is considered valuable when inactive, as the speed of access is not a priority, but managing where it is kept is.

Hot and cold data both have their advantages but are defined by their differences. The benefits that come from separation have a big impact on the success of business operations.

Hot storage mediums are usually always online and network connected for quick and fast access.

Cold Storage mediums can consist of offline or offshore data storage for security and controlled accessibility.

Choices for Hot and Cold Storage Mediums:

Hot Storage Mediums:

Rack server for hot data storage

A simple and effective hot storage medium can consist of something like a cloud data storage or, a local storage server.

you can purchase a cloud server from popular storage providers like AWS, Google or Azure.

If you plan to construct your own local enterprise storage server, take note it will require a lot of components and software to setup.

what's the difference between a local and online cloud host for data storage ?

  • Online data storage requires a fast and active internet connection to be able to access data to and from. Local data storage on the contrary requires just local network access or physical access to be able to communicate to obtain data from.
  • While Online data storage vendors provide their own fail safes and recovery methods for the data, A local storage option may or may not provide that depending on how it is configured.
  • Local data storage is more expensive and harder to setup in comparison to online vendors, but it provides much more speed and accessibility to users.

Cold Storage Mediums:

Cold storage mediums are usually based on local storage mediums that are offline and not readily accessible.

Typical hard disk for offline storage
Typical USB drive used for local offline storage

Bulk data storage is usually done with cold storage mediums.

This would include storing data for long terms and aren't meant to be touched and modified.

Cold storage's are quite similar to local hot storage's, but differ by being offline most of the time.

Cold storage needs to be impermeable to data loss and corruption over long time periods.

Its typically driven by redundant disk arrays or RAID storage solutions to reduce possibilities in case of an awry situation.

Comparison Between Hot, and Cold storages:

Parameters:Hot StorageCold Storage
Access SpeedFastSlowest
Access FrequencyRegularRare/Very Less
Data Exchange VolumeHighLow
Storage MediaStandard hard drives, solid state drives, portable flash memory, easy-access cloud storageOff-site archival cloud storage (Amazon Glacier, Google Coldline), unplugged & encrypted hard drives
SecurityLowerHigher (physical access required in some cases)
Ideal UserEveryone (Enterprise or Personal Usage)Enterprise or Personal with large backup data to be offloaded.
comparison chart of storages

When should one use a particular Data Storage ?

Depending on your needs and use cases, a hot or cold storage system may or may not be applicable to you.

If you are looking for something that requires:

  • fast paced data change
  • quick and fast accessibility
  • Not more than 100's of Terabytes of actively accessed data.

You might want to consider hot storage solutions that are online, or offline.

Otherwise cold storage options or maybe "warm" storage.

It is similar cold storage but exhibits the accessibility and available state of hot storage.

Just not as fast considering it is much more larger in comparison.


Thus if you are looking to create a hot or cold data storage for your data, consider between the options available and chose accordingly.

Not every business has the same needs, and different data has to be split in between hot and cold storage options.

the choice is based on the various parameters like ease of accessibility and size.

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