Solid state drives (SSDs) are increasing in popularity across all types of computer systems. Desktops, Laptops, and even servers are commonly found with SSD storage instead of traditional spinning hard disk drives. SSDs are much more performant, last longer, and consume less power over traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). That benefit is due to SSDs utilizing an electric charge to store data rather than magnetic fields to represent the zeros and ones that make up computer data.
For a computer that is powered up and being used, the SSD will always have a supply of electricity to keep this data in place. If an SSD is stored without power for a long time, such as on a shelf, safety deposit box, or drawer, these drives can experience data loss as the electric charge fades over time. In cases where data archival is required, what can be done?
Solid state drives, like other types of flash memory such as flash drives and memory cards, store their data using something called NAND flash. This type of flash memory is programmed with an electrical charge, which is held within "cells." While these cells are built to be able to last for some time without a refresh, over time they will lose their electrical charge (as well as the electrically programmed data). For this reason, SSDs should not be treated as long term storage.
Magnetic tape and magnetic tape drives are an extremely viable solution for storing large quantities of data for extended periods. For about $50, you can purchase a reel of tape that can be held in one hand but can hold 12 to 30 TB of data reliably for up to 30 years. It isn't nearly as fast as an SSD at retrieving data, but all one needs to do to ensure their tape-archived data is retrievable decades later is to keep it in a climate-controlled room. This can be a good storage medium for data which must be retained in the long term but must also be physically secured.
The cloud is likely a part of your everyday life. Whether you are collaborating with coworkers in Microsoft SharePoint or Google Docs, storing your photos on iCloud, or streaming a movie online, everyday access to cloud storage has changed the way we do business. In the world of cloud computing, the tasks referenced above are set apart as "hot storage," storage which is accessed frequently and must have immediate availability.
The counterpart of "hot storage" is "cold storage," a type of cloud storage that is designed not to be accessed frequently, but generally comes at a much lower retention cost with the caveat of a higher retrieval cost. This type of storage serves the digital equivalent of sending boxes of documents off to an archive facility: you may need to have files available for compliance reasons, but not necessarily accessible quickly or around the clock. For certain applications, such as business continuity or record keeping, cold storage can be the ideal solution to keep your data safe while also not relying on a physical space to keep it secure.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of data storage and retention is ensuring that you have what you need when you need it. Whether that's backups of computers necessary for business continuity, protecting specific files, or even more, the TechnicalRS team is here to help. Contact us to today to learn about how we can help to protect your business from downtime.
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