What is cold data storage?

Cold data storage is the term used to describe the task of storing data that is rarely or potentially never accessed. You may wonder why any individual or organisation would choose to retain this data but there are numerous possible explanations for this.

Did you know, for example, that the vast majority of the data that we all create is never accessed? As we’re also creating data at a faster rate than ever before, the need to optimise our storage solutions and keep data that is infrequently accessed off our primary storage media is all too apparent.

Your attic is an obvious metaphor: you have only a limited amount of space to store things in your house so you keep the items that you rarely use there. Some of these items will never be used again but you keep them just in case. Perhaps you’ll look through your attic and throw away the things that you’re certain you’ll never need again – think of this is as being like a data audit. If you find that the media you use for cold storage is getting too full, you check everything stored there and delete anything that you’re certain you won’t need. Like clearing out your attic, it’s a painstaking and laborious process – and this is particularly true in certain businesses.

Within various regulated industries, some data must beretained permanently for legal reasons. As a direct result, data audits conducted there must be undertaken with caution and by highly-trained individuals. This means that it is often more cost-effective to simply expand storage capacity than review what data should and should not be retained.

In other instances, companies retain data not because they are legally obliged to, but because they’re concerned that they’ll delete something from which they could one day glean vital insight.

Indeed, it is the need to retain data that would otherwise be deleted that it is – according to many industry experts including Fields Data Recovery – the reason that various types of storage media that would otherwise be deemed obsolete due to the proliferation of flash still have plenty left to offer.

The lifespan of hard drives is therefore likely to be extended not just by data centres but by the need and desire companies and individuals have to retain their data. This will ensure that low-cost storage media remains desirable for many years to come.