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Cold data

Cold data definition

Cold data is infrequently used or accessed data that doesn’t require real-time availability. This type of data can be stored offline (also known as “cold storage”) or online (e.g., cloud storage). Cold storage methods include tapes, CDs, DVDs, and hard disks. Examples of cold data include historical archives, backups, or any type of data that’s not frequently used but needs to be stored for regulatory or legal reasons.

See also: data backup

Cold data vs. warm and hot data

  • Cold data refers to infrequently used, inactive data that could be stored offline or in cloud storage.
  • Warm data is frequently accessed over a period of time, but isn’t actively used all the time.
  • Hot data is data that’s actively being used and requires easy, efficient access.

Cold data use cases

  • Compliance. Cold data is used for regulatory or compliance purposes (e.g., a company may need to keep records of transactions for tax purposes).
  • Old projects. Companies may need to keep records of previous projects that may not be relevant today, but could be useful in the future for comparison or reference.
  • Backups and disaster recovery. Cold data can be used as a backup that allows for businesses to continue running in the case of system failure or disaster. By storing data offline or in a separate location, organizations can protect themselves from data loss and continue usual business operations.