Secondary Storage

What is Secondary Storage?

Secondary storage devices are storage devices that operate alongside the computer’s primary storage, RAM, and cache memory. Secondary storage is for any amount of data, from a few megabytes to petabytes. These devices store almost all types of programs and applications. This can consist of items like the operating system, device drivers, applications, and user data. For example, internal secondary storage devices include the hard disk drive, the tape disk drive, and compact disk drive.

Some key facts about secondary storage:

Secondary Storage Data Tiering

Secondary storage typically tiers or archives inactive cold data and backs up primary storage through data replication or other data backup methods. This replication or data backup process, ensures there is a second copy of the data. In an enterprise environment, the storage of secondary data can be in the form of a network-attached storage (NAS) box, storage-area network (SAN), or tape. In addition, to lessen the demand on primary storage, object storage devices may also be used for secondary storage. The growth of organizational unstructured data has prompted storage managers to move data to lower tiers of storage, increasingly cloud data storage, to reduce the impact on primary storage systems. Furthermore, in moving data from more expensive primary storage to less expensive tiers of storage, knowns as cloud tiering, storage managers are able to save money. This keeps the data easily accessible in order to satisfy both business and compliance requirements.


When data tiering and archiving cold data to secondary storage, it is important that the archiving / tiering solution does not disrupt users by requiring them to rewrite applications to find the data on the secondary storage. Transparent archiving is key to ensuring that data moved to secondary storage still appears to reside on the primary storage and continues to be accessed from the primary storage without any changes to users or applications. Transparent move technology solutions that use file-level tiering to accomplish this.

Learn More: Why Komprise is the Easy, Fast, No Lock-In Path to the Cloud for file and object data.

What is Secondary Storage?

Secondary storage, sometimes called auxiliary storage, is non-volatile and is used to store data and programs for later retrieval. It is also known as a backup storage device, tier 2 storage, external memory, secondary memory or external storage. It is a non-volatile device that holds data until it is deleted or overwritten.

Secondary Storage Devices

Here are some examples of secondary storage devices:

  • Hard drive
  • Solid-state drive
  • USB thumb drive
  • SD card
  • CD
  • DVD
  • Floppy Diskette
  • Tape Drive
What is the difference between Primary and Secondary Storage?

Primary storage is the main memory where the operating system resides and is likely to be temporary, more expensive, smaller and faster and is used for data that needs to be frequently accessed.

Secondary storage can be hosted on premises, in an external device, or in the cloud. It is more likely to be permanent, cheaper, larger and slower and is typically used for long term storage for cold data.

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