The Difference Between Hot and Cold Storage

The Difference Between Hot and Cold Storage

As digital files replace the filing cabinets of yesteryear, storing important documents in the cloud is more practical than ever. However, there are a few different ways to describe the preservation of digital files. Here is what you need to know about the difference between hot and cold storage.

Hot Storage

When we say “hot storage,” we mean files used frequently and stored on the edge for quick access. “On the edge” is a phrase for files that you store, edit, and access locally on your device. Some examples of devices that store on the edge are computers, laptops, digital cameras, tablets, and smartphones with external storage such as a micro-SD card.

Since hot storage is local, it is accessible much quicker than cloud storage, and files are available without an internet connection. However, if you have too many files on the edge, you create dark data, which is only local and has no central visibility.

Files on the edge are vulnerable to broken or missing devices and malware put onto a host device. It also takes a long time to download large files locally, and sending them via email is impossible.

Warm Storage

Somewhere between hot (local) and cold (cloud) storage is warm storage, which means files stored on a cloud storage gateway, file server, or network-attached storage (NAS). For example, professionals use warm storage at a corporate headquarters or remote office/branch office (ROBO).

In addition, people use warm storage for faster retrieval of larger files than hot storage. So naturally, if you are working on a 300-gigabyte project and your computer only has 200 gigabytes of storage, using an edge filer helps you access the complete project without needing a hard drive.

Edge filers combine NAS with cloud storage to replace traditional file servers, and they assist in balancing work efficiently across multiple remote offices. Local users collaborate seamlessly with remote workers because they all have access to the global file system of warm storage.

Cold Storage

Finally, cold storage is cloud or object storage. Cold storage is when you store files for long-term archives.

These files are usually huge and don’t need to be accessed regularly. Nonetheless, cold storage keeps your files secure and is generally cheaper than hot storage.

One of the main differences between hot and cold storage is that with cold storage, you only pay for what’s necessary, rather than a set amount of storage on a local device such as 120 gigabytes. Cost-effectiveness is one reason why retail organizations should migrate to the cloud. However, retrieving files from cold storage is slower than warm storage. If you still need to view files locally but don’t need to download them fully, cloud storage is the way to go. In addition, end-to-end encryption is beneficial for data traveling from being on the edge to the cloud. Encryption keeps your data private and updates your changes to a file by syncing with the cloud.


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Brian E. Thomas is the Chief Brand Builder and CTO of Coruzant Technologies. He is a seasoned technology executive and contributes to several publications. He is passionate about people and technology. His favorite topics include emerging technology, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, big data, and analytics. Brian received his MBA from Baker University and received certificates from MIT in AI, Blockchain, and Digital Transformation.