COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk) is a system for archiving data such as business records and reports to one or more optical disks in a compressed but easily retrievable format. COLD systems make it unnecessary to archive reports in printed form and are easier to work with than microfiche, an earlier solution. Vendors of COLD systems point out that more than one million paper pages can be stored on a single 5 1/4 inch optical disk. A COLD system consists of software and hardware. The software allows a user to send a document to the COLD system (much like sending it to be printed), organizes the documents for access, and compresses them for storage. The hardware consists of optical disk drives, which typically are mounted in a unit called a jukebox.
COLD software may offer the ability to do archiving automatically at scheduled times of day, to index documents in a variety of ways, and to periodically distribute the archive indexes.
COLD systems are used to archive accounting reports, credit reports, loan records, inventories, shipping and receiving documents, customer bills, lab reports, and many other kinds of records and reports. A COLD system is a form of EDM and is often used together with an imaging system.