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Jay Williams: Benefits of cold storage

As a society, we’re creating data at a truly unprecedented rate; an increased amount of extraneous data is an evident by-product of this. In fact, 95% of all data we create is only accessed within the first 90 days of its creation.

As a result of this, our storage media can become overburdened. The logical answer to this simply being the deletion of unneeded data at regular intervals. This, though, can lead to businesses within various sectors falling foul of regulators. Data is now often one of a business’s most valuable resources. Sadly, though, it is not always readily apparent what data will contain the information needed for these valuable insights leaving business owners with something of a conundrum: shoulder the cost of retaining this data or delete it and miss out on information that has the potential to be highly-beneficial. Cold storage provides a solution to this problem.

What is cold storage?

Cold storage is designed to retain files that need to be accessed sporadically. As a result, the speed that data is retrieved is much less of a concern. Instead, affordability, capacity and durability take precedent, meaning that the following are popular ways of storing cold data:

Magnetic tape

Until the late 1980s, magnetic tape was the de facto means of storing data. It remains a popular means of storing legacy data due to its robustness and low cost per GB of storage. A single tape capable of storing 15TBs, can be purchased for around £60. That makes it just 0.4 pence per GB.

Commodity hard drives

A commodity hard drive is basically a slower, more-affordable HDD. Commodity hard drives are known to be reliable and because of this, they are popular for storing cold data. They do work out to be considerably more expensive than tape, though. Western Digital offer a HDD, which is designed to store cold data. It costs approximately £110 and offers 4TBs of storage, equating to 2.75 pence per GB of storage.

Accessing cold data stored on a HDD is a quicker process than data that has been stored on a tape. In addition to this, a 1TB SSD is going to cost around £200, that’s 20 pence per GB.

Cold cloud storage

Companies that provide ‘virtual’ storage space are rife and offer lower cost space in their various data centres in exchange for slower transfer speeds. Cold cloud storage is extremely cheap and can cost less than a penny per GB under certain circumstances. This makes it an extremely popular option though, in our experience, our clients prefer to keep their most sensitive data offline for security reasons.


If your business is producing large amounts of data, it’s advisable you take action before your infrastructure begins to slow down. Decreased productivity and the need to purchase more expensive primary storage media could mean your bottom line is also affected.

Backing up your sensitive data to an offline device will also ensure increased security.


Jay Williams is a communications office, employed by Fields Data Recovery. He has been with the company for more than a decade. In his spare time, he enjoys gaming, exercising and persistently attempting to convince his wife that their two-year-old daughter needs a Nintendo Switch.

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