Importance of Cold Data Storage in Data Lifecycle Management

Data Lifecycle Management - March 15, 2023
rickbump Author


How to determine what storage type is right for your business

Over the last several weeks, we’ve been going deep on data lifecycle management (DLM). We’ve given a broad overview by answering top questions in our FAQ, talked about the benefits, outlined the 5 phases that make up a strategic DLM strategy, and discussed steps to get started. Today, we want to get a bit more tactical to discuss different data storage options and why cold data storage is an essential component of every organization’s data management system.

Let’s start with a few definitions

The terms hot storage and cold storage has little to do with actual temperature. Instead, it’s associated with the accessibility of the data storage. Hot data storage is used for data that requires fast and frequent access. It’s ideal for data that is used daily or needs to be able to be pulled up on a whim.

Cold data storage, on the other hand, should be used for data that is accessed less frequently. Cold storage data is typically stored offline and is immutable, or unable to be changed, and data hosted in cold storage is harder to retrieve. Stored on a media type that has a long shelf-life and doesn’t expire, cold storage is the ideal method for storing data that needs to be kept in case of an audit, is a backup for business-critical functionality, or needs to be preserved indefinitely. Types of cold storage include CDs, USBs, or hard drives with no internet access.

Benefits of using cold data storage

The best DLM strategies build redundancy into a business’s operations. With evolving technologies such as data libraries and data preservation systems, it can be difficult to determine which storage type is best for various data at various stages throughout its lifecycle.  An important layer in a company’s data storage, cold storage provides a business with important benefits.

Reduces liability – No matter your business industry or size, there are undoubtedly data laws and regulations with which you need to comply – GDPR, HIPPA, CCPA, etc. Additionally, you likely have your own internal data preservation policies outlining how long different types of data should be archived for legal or business continuity reasons. By knowing exactly where each type of data is stored, and keeping data associated with regulatory compliance in cold storage, your team is set up to be able to easily handle any legal or regulatory requests.

Ensures business continuity – Cold, offline storage is inherently less vulnerable to cyberattacks. If (when) your business is hacked, your primary online systems can be held hostage and might be inaccessible for days or even weeks. Without proper backup, this leaves your business inoperable. Being able to access important logins, proprietary product or customer information, and other mission-critical intelligence will allow you to get your business back up and running while you handle the long-term effects of the security breach.

Decreases storage spend – There is no reason to store data that doesn’t need to be used regularly in high-performance primary storage. These online, easily accessible hot storage options are more expensive, so by diverting data that doesn’t need to be accessed regularly to cold storage, you’ll decrease your overall data storage spend.

How to determine what type of storage is best for each type of data

To determine where whether hot or cold storage is a better option for your data, we recommend considering the following:

  • Data Type: The type of data being stored will have a significant impact on the choice of storage process. For example, structured data such as customer names, addresses, and purchase histories can be stored in a relational database, while unstructured data such as images, videos, and audio files may require a different storage approach, such as object-based storage.
  • Data Volume: The volume of data that needs to be stored also plays a role in determining the storage process. Larger volumes of data may require distributed storage approaches that can scale horizontally to accommodate growth.
  • Performance Requirements: The performance requirements of the system can dictate the storage process used. For example, if the system requires fast access to data, a high-performance storage solution such as solid-state drives (SSDs) may be necessary.
  • Access Patterns: How data is accessed by the application or users can influence the storage process used. For example, if data is frequently updated, a transactional storage solution such as a relational database may be needed.
  • Cost: The cost of storage can be a factor in determining the storage process. Some storage solutions may be more expensive than others, so it is important to weigh the cost against the performance and scalability requirements of the system. As an added benefit, storage solutions that do not need constant power to remain viable (SSD, for example) or need to be housed in an environmentally controlled data center (like HHD and tape) are not only less expensive, but they are also more energy efficient and sustainable.
  • Security: The security of the data is another important consideration. Some storage processes may provide better security features, such as encryption and access controls, than others.
  • Compliance: Depending on the nature of the data being stored, compliance requirements may dictate the storage process used. For example, data that is subject to specific regulatory requirements, such as health or financial data, may need to be stored in a specific manner to comply with industry standards and regulations.


Using a tiered storage approach that includes both hot storage and cold storage is necessary to help your organization effectively organize and manage its data throughout its lifecycle. Understanding each type of storage and assessing the pros/cons of each is an important component of a comprehensive data lifecycle management strategy.

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