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Data at rest

(also stored data, inactive data)

Data at rest definition

Data at rest designates information that isn't currently in transmission or undergoing processing. This form of data is typically stored in various mediums such as databases, hard drives, or flash drives. Its static nature often makes it more vulnerable to cyberattacks due to generally weaker protection compared to data that is in transit.

See also: data in motion, access control entry, end-to-end encryption

Data at rest examples

  • Saved files: Any document, spreadsheet, image, or video file stored on a hard drive or cloud storage service is considered data at rest.
  • Databases: Information stored in a company's customer relationship management (CRM) system or employee directory is data at rest.
  • Backups: Whether stored on physical servers or in the cloud, backup data is data at rest.

Data at rest vs. data in transit

While data at rest refers to static data stored on physical or virtual storage devices, data in transit refers to data that is actively being transmitted over a network. These two states of data require different security measures. For example, encryption is typically used to protect data in both states, but while data at rest might be encrypted at the file or disk level, data in transit is usually encrypted at the network level.

Advantages and disadvantages of data at rest


  • Persistence: As long as it's properly stored and backed up, data at rest can be preserved indefinitely.
  • Availability: It's typically easier to access and analyze data at rest than data in transit.


  • Vulnerability: Data at rest can be an attractive target for cybercriminals if not properly secured.
  • Storage costs: Keeping large amounts of data at rest can be expensive, especially when using cloud storage services.

Protecting data at rest

  • Encryption: Data at rest should be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Access controls: Strong access controls restrict who can access the data.
  • Regular audits: Regular review and updating of security practices ensures data at rest remains secure.