Cold cloning is a cloning method that takes place while the server OS is not running. For virtual machines (VMs), cold cloning encapsulates the physical server into a virtual image, converting the operating system and all files, drivers and user data to a single file format. This new format is then made compatible with a virtualization platform and uploaded to a virtual server.
Cold cloning can also be used for databases by copying and restoring a database image. The database image is then set up as a new instance, which can reside on a new system or that of the original database. With cold cloning, the source database is completely shut down before the copied image is created.
Since no files are open during the conversion, cold cloning has a smaller chance of data loss or corruption than the alternative, hot cloning. For data sensitive operations such as email and database servers, cold cloning is the better option because there are no inconsistencies between the copies. However, because the server OS is inactive, cold cloning results in more downtime and a disruption in workflow, which is not ideal when working with mission critical data.