A cold site is an office or a data center that does not have any server installed. It has power, cooling, and space available if an organization’s main work site or datacenter suffers a major outage. But since it is empty, a cold site will need engineering and information technology (IT) personnel to migrate all the necessary servers and equipment to it and make them operational. As such, a cold site is the least expensive cost-recovery option for any business.
Think of a cold site as a generator. When the power goes out in a building with a generator, the building administrator just needs to switch to generator power to restore electricity for the tenants’ use.
Read More about a “Cold Site”
A cold site is a type of disaster recovery (DR) site. Disaster recovery, of course, refers to the process of returning systems to normal after a natural or human-induced disaster occurs. Three kinds of DR sites exist—hot, cold, and warm sites.
How a Cold Site Differs from a Hot Site
A hot site is an exact copy of a network environment. All of the data generated and stored in a primary site is copied and backed up in a hot site in real-time.
Operating a hot site normally involves availing of managed data center services. Since the network environment is a live mirror of a primary network, it needs a separate team to run it. As such, many hot sites have a work area that can serve as a temporary base of operations should a disaster strike, forcing a company to shift to them while the primary site is in recovery. In some cases, a hot site can take the form of a mobile facility like the back of an 18-wheeler truck driven to the primary site until recovery is complete.
Unlike a cold site that is not operational from the get-go, a hot site is fully redundant and can be used immediately in the event of a disaster. That functionality, however, comes at a huge price compared to using a cold site. Cost is, therefore, a major driver as to why organizations opt to employ cold sites over hot sites.
How a Cold Site Differs from a Warm Site
A warm site is a middle ground between a cold site and a hot site. It is a backup facility that has the network connectivity and necessary hardware already preinstalled. But it cannot perform on the same level as a primary site because it is not as fully equipped. Data from the primary site to a warm site is also only synchronized at the end of each day or week, resulting in minor data loss.
Since a warm site’s data is not as updated as a primary site’s, it needs to catch up somehow before it can be used. It still needs some preparation before it can be used, although not as much as a cold site.
Operating a warm site costs more than using a cold site, making it a less popular option for companies that have limited DR and business continuity budgets.
What Is the Best Disaster Recovery Site Option for Your Company?
Organizations that require uninterrupted uptime because they stand to lose a lot of revenue if a disaster brings down their network would do best to use a hot site if they have the means to afford it. Those with a smaller budget but need to stay always on can do with a warm site. Finally, companies with little to no budget and do not have an urgent need to stay Internet-connected can opt for a cold site just to keep their operations going should a disaster strikes.
In a nutshell, choosing from among the three types of DR sites depends on an organization’s business requirements, budget, and capacity to stay offline without affecting its bottom line.