Cold Storage: Archiving, Backup & Recovery Guide

Cold Storage: Archiving, Backup & Recovery Guide

What is Cold Storage?

Cold storage is a data storage method designed to store data at low rates for a long period of time. Enterprises typically use cold storage for archival data that is not a high or immediate priority for them, but for which they may need at some point in the future.

In essence, Cold storage is at the bottom of the four tiers of cloud storage.

The four tiers of data storage are:

  • Hot Storage – storage for regularly accessed and used data.
  • Warm Storage – storage for data that is older and less relevant, but that is still accessed somewhat frequently.
  • Cool Storage – storage for "nearline data," which is accessed infrequently but has to stay accessible without a restore process.
  • Cold Storage – storage for backup and archival purposes.

The name “cold storage” comes from the fact that it is originally stored on tapes or drives away from the heat-emitting spinning drives and CPUs on data center floors. This is the opposite of “hot data” which is data stored close to the spinning drives and CPUs on data center floors.

Why Cold Storage?

Enterprises utilize cold storage when they have vast quantities of data that need archiving. These companies can’t afford to let unimportant data impede their ability to access critical data such as financial transactions and real-time reports.

Offline hard drives can be effective cold storage options for many. However, If you're in the healthcare industry, IT sector, or the legal profession; you might need a more secured, advanced cold storage solution.

Cold storage is more scalable at lower costs than all of the other tiers. You may not need cold storage data for months, years, or even decades, but storing it properly at a low cost offers your enterprise relief in the long run.

Trying to store your low-priority data with hot, warm, or cool storage is needlessly expensive. Finding reliable cold storage is a proven method for keeping your costs low while keeping low-priority data safe and secure for an extended time.

OVHcloud offers convenient, cold storage options to meet your company’s demand without sacrificing scalability.

How Does Cold Storage work?

In the 1990s, a method known as LTO (Linear Tape-Open) used storage racks to store data. To retrieve the data, someone had to retrieve the tapes and mount them onto a tape reading machine. This method is still sometimes used today because it is low-cost and secure. However, it is slow, and not scalable for most companies.

Today, cold storage is regularly executed with HDD (Hard Disk Drives) which are designed to accommodate and store large quantities of data at lower costs. The option that is best for your company depends on your specific data storage needs and company policies.

Use Cases:

As enterprises compile more and more data, they must compliantly store data they no longer need. Doing so prevents them from wasting resources and compromising the accessibility of more important data. It’s simple: the more data a company accumulates, the more glaring their need for a cold storage solution.

For example, a business uses cloud storage for all of its data. Hot storage is at the top end of their resource allocation. It includes things such as financial transactions and real-time analytics.

To avoid unnecessary costs, the company implements a cold storage solution. They transfer the unimportant data to cold storage drives so it doesn’t use cloud computing resources and slow down data recovery.

However, some industries require more extensive cold storage options than others. For example, the healthcare industry produces enormous amounts of patient data. This data includes data sets such as imaging, medical records, and immunizations. This data needs to be more readily accessible than other industries’ cold storage.

Companies such as these can’t afford to archive their data in one location, offline. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other medical businesses need to store their vast quantities of sensitive data in compliance with various regulations, even though they may only need to access the data once a year or once every few years.

Another industry that has a strong need for alternative cold storage options is the legal industry. Law firms have to store vast quantities of documents, images, and other forms of evidence for many years. Law firms often hold onto their files long after trials end to face appeals, retrials, or new cases related to the original one.

The healthcare and legal industries are just a few sectors where there is a strong need for more advanced cold storage solutions. The reality is that any company that needs to archive sensitive data for the long term needs an efficient, secure cold storage method. Companies in finance, engineering, retail, and more all benefit from cloud archive cold storage plans.

Benefits of Cold Storage:

  • Ideal for archiving and data backup purposes.
  • High Availability - Data can be readily retrieved when needed.
  • Integrates existing on-premise storage.
  • Offers fail-safe data security via datacenter redundancy.
  • Low Overhead, High Scalability.
  • An excellent alternative to hot, warm, and cool storage.

Alternatives for Cold Storage

Choosing a cold storage option depends on your data storage needs. Traditional, offline cold storage options might not be feasible if you have sensitive data such as healthcare, financial, or legal information. These industries must meet specific accessibility requirements that require more advanced solutions such as cloud archive storage, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), or private clouds.

Cloud Archive Storage

OVHcloud’s Cloud Archive option offers a cold storage option that keeps costs low and data relatively accessible. For businesses with sensitive archival data, the main objective becomes data security, compliant-accessibility, and cost-effective archival storage. Solutions such as Cloud Archive check all these boxes.

With solutions such as cloud archive, you enjoy more security and reliability than other cold storage options. Fragmented and replicated files on redundant infrastructures are written on different storage devices, creating a system that ensures around-the-clock integrity. Cloud Archive retrieves sensitive archival data anywhere between 10 minutes and 12 hours.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Private Cloud Storage

Hyperconverged Infrastructure and private cloud storage options provide more costly archival solutions to companies that need more security and assurance for older data. The benefits of these storage options are that they provide increased disaster recovery assurance by storing your data in multiple locations (failure at one location doesn’t compromise the data’s accessibility).

Dedicated or Bare Metal Servers

While dedicated servers are excellent options for hot and warm storage, they don’t make sense for cold storage. Dedicated servers are primarily used for data that needs to be accessed fast, such as frequently used hard drive documents. Because this type of data needs to be readily accessible, it requires more resources.

However, dedicated or bare metal servers are ideal for hot storage. They offer fast accessibility and continuous backups without having to compete for resources such as RAM, leading to more reliable performance.

Be sure to check out our Advanced STOR-1 Configuration Plan, which allows you to upload and save your sensitive information on highly available dedicated resources.

Getting Started with Cold Storage

The sooner you start using cold storage, the sooner you start benefiting from its low price point, its security, and its reliability. Our customers are always impressed with how efficiently our bare-metal servers and cold storage systems store data long-term and how accessible their data is.

OVHcloud offers best-in-class cold-storage solutions for your company's backup and retention needs. Regardless of whether you use NextCloud, Acronis, or Zerto, our enterprise backup, and file storage solutions ensure a seamless, reliable transition.

If you would like to get started with cold storage for your company's data, the process is simple. Choose an online plan, or get in touch with one of our representatives. Our data solutions architects can answer any and all questions that you might have about cold data storage environments.

Regardless of your budget or your data storage requirements, we have a solution that meets your specifications and internal requirements.

Ready to get Started?