What’s the Diff: Hot and Cold Data Storage

By | March 7th, 2017

Hot And Cold Storage

Differentiating cloud data storage by “temperature” is common practice when it comes to describing the tiered storage setups offered by various cloud storage providers. “Hot” and “cold” describes how often that data is accessed. What’s the actual difference, and how does each temperature fit your cloud storage strategy? Let’s take a look.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: There’s no set industry definition of what hot and cold actually mean. So some of this may need to be adapted to your specific circumstances. You’re bound to see some variance or disagreement if you research the topic.

Hot Storage

“Hot” storage is data you need to access right away, where performance is at a premium. Hot storage often goes hand in hand with cloud computing. If you’re depending on cloud services not only to store your data but also to process it, you’re looking at hot storage.

Business-critical information that needs to be accessed frequently and quickly is hot storage. If performance is of the essence – if you need the data stored on SSDs instead of hard drives, because speed is that much of a factor – then that’s hot storagae.

High-performance primary storage comes at a price, though. Cloud data storage providers charge a premium for hot data storage, because it’s resource-intensive. Microsoft’s Azure Hot Blobs and Amazon AWS services don’t come cheap.

Read on for how our B2 Cloud Storage fits the hot storage model. But first, let’s talk about cold storage.

Cold Storage

“Cold” storage is information that you don’t need to access very often. Inactive data that doesn’t need to be accessed for months, years, decades, potentially ever. That’s the sort of content that cold storage is ideal for. Practical examples of data suitable for cold storage include old projects, records you might need for auditing or bookkeeping purposes at some point in the future, or other content you only need to access infrequently.

Data retrieval and response time for cold cloud storage systems are typically slower than services designed for active data manipulation. Practical examples of cold cloud storage include services like Amazon Glacier and Google Coldline.

Storage prices for cold cloud storage systems are typically lower than warm or hot storage. But cold storage often incur higher per-operation costs than other kinds of cloud storage. Access to the data typically requires patience and planning.

Apocryphally, “cold” storage meant just that: Data physically stored away from the hot machines running the media. Today, cold storage is still sometimes used to describe purely offline storage – that is, data that’s not stored in the cloud at all. Sometimes this is data that you might want to quarantine from from the Internet altogether – for example, cryptocurrency like BitCoin. Sometimes this is that old definition of cold storage: data that is archived on some sort of durable medium and stored in a secure offsite facility.

How B2 Cloud Storage Fits the Cold and Hot Model

We’ve designed B2 Cloud Storage to be instantly available. With B2, you won’t have delays accessing your information like you might have with offline or some nearline systems. Your data is available when you need it.

B2 is built on the physical architecture and advanced software framework we’ve been developing for the past decade to power our signature backup services. B2 Cloud Storage sports multiple layers of redundancy to make sure that your data is stored safely and is available when you need it.

We’ve taken the concept of hot storage a step further by offering reliable, affordable, and scalable storage in the cloud for a mere fraction of what others charge. We’re one-quarter the price of Amazon.

B2 Cloud Storage changes the pricing model for cloud storage. B2 changes the pricing model so much that our customers have found it economical to migrate away altogether from slow, inconvenient and frustrating cold storage and offline archival systems. Our media and entertainment customers are using B2 instead of LTO tape systems, for example.

What Temperature Is Your Cloud Storage?

Different organizations have different needs, so there’s no right answer about what temperature your cloud data should be. It’s imperative to your bottom line that you don’t pay for more than what you need. That’s why we’ve designed B2 to be an affordable and reliable cloud storage solution. Get started today and you’ll get the first 10GB for free!

Have a different idea of what hot and cold storage are? Have questions that aren’t answered here? Join the discussion!

Peter Cohen
Peter will never give you up, never let you down, never run around or desert you. He also manages the Backblaze blog.

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