Hot and Cold Storage, Explained
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Hot and Cold Storage, Explained

Find out the differences between hot data storage and cold data storage

Fall is here which means we get to go through that wonderful time of year with “transitional weather”. Is it hot? Is it cold? Do we need a light jacket? A heavy jumper? Who knows! But speaking of hot and cold weather, we think it’s about time to put to rest a question we get a lot: what’s the difference between hot and cold cloud storage?

Before we delve into the answer to this digital-age old question, we should clear something up: there’s no hard and fast rule regarding what constitutes hot storage and cold storage. As a cloud backup shopper that doesn’t help that much, huh? Don’t worry, it’s not totally futile, below we’ve outlined the main differences between hot and cold storage and how they can be used. A lot of cloud service providers use the terms hot storage and cold storage in a similar fashion so the following can serve as a guide, at least.

Hot Storage
Overview: instant access, pricey, great for file sharing and frequently accessed data

Hot storage is sometimes referred to as instant storage because the data can be accessed, you guessed it, instantly. Because of the ready-access people have to their data when using hot storage, it’s commonly used for file sharing. Take this year for example. As the world figured out how to best work while staying safe and coworkers suddenly found themselves in multiple locations, many companies turned to hot storage cloud service providers to help their workforce seamlessly continue collaborating. Even now there’s a good chance you’re using a hot storage service. Google Suite, like their Docs, Sheets, and Slides web apps are all a version of hot cloud storage as is Dropbox. Though these services seem free at the onset, once you fill up your allotted space, you’ll have to subscribe to the service. Hot storage is much pricier compared to its cold counterpart, costing hundreds more a year for a similar amount of storage space.

Cold Storage
Overview: delayed retrieval times, inexpensive, great for archiving data and data backup

Cold storage refers to inactively stored data. Since the data is inactive, it takes a little longer to retrieve it from the servers it’s stored on, about a few hours. This may seem inconvenient but it’s what keeps cold cloud storage options low-priced. By storing data inactively, large amounts of data can be stored inexpensively making cold storage a particularly great option for businesses and organizations who are required to store client and patient data sometimes indefinitely. Cold storage isn’t just useful for enterprise data, though. Consumers, or home users, can get just as much use out of a cold cloud storage service as a business because cold cloud storage is so fitting for archival and backup purposes. Old photos, important documents and backup copies of current projects can all be protected from loss with cold cloud storage. While you may not be able to restore the items immediately, the data is still protected and the savings compared to hot storage are exponential.

To decide what’s best for you, think about how you use your data. Do you have a lot of old photos and media you’d like to backup? Or are you looking for a service that offers instantaneous collaborating? And some cloud service providers can give you both. When it comes down to it, the two biggest differences in hot cloud storage vs. cold cloud storage are price and restoration time and most likely, you’ll find a use for both hot and cold storage. Luckily there are apps for that.

It’s a tale of ice and fire. Just kidding, it’s cloud storage! Polarbackup offers lifetime cold cloud storage plans with options to add-on hot storage if you’d like. All of our lifetime plans start at under $100 and offer at least 1TB in storage space. To get full plans and pricing head to