A hot site is a full or partial duplicate for a primary IT operation, including complete computer systems and near-real-time backups for systems, applications and data. Hot-site pricing is usually based on the amount of processing power and data storage needed, networking needed to support operations, voice and data communications for company employees, desk space for employees relocated to the hot site, conference room space, and other conveniences needed to support potentially extended stays at the site.
A warm site works for businesses or organizations that can tolerate one or two days of downtime, which represents the typical delay between when a primary site goes down and a recovery site comes up.
Cold sites which are empty facilities, such as trailers, warehouses, open space in existing data centers specially equipped for emergency use; or simply empty buildings that are wired for power, communications and HVAC but are empty.
In its most expensive form, mirroring software is used to keep a hot backup site and a primary site synchronized.  They typically are duplicates of existing data centers.

Hot sites are largely in move-in condition so that employees can be productive within hours of declaring a disaster. That is, a warm site offers access to space, utilities and equipment, but requires current backups be installed, and systems and services brought online to become operational.
Many major and medium-sized businesses opt for warm sites because costs are significantly lower than for hot sites. In addition, arrangements to have these assets delivered and installed at the cold site are needed, preferably in advance. The cost to outfit a cold site and make it usable can be expensive and will take time, often several days or a week or more.

A warm site may be a complete duplicate of an original site, but will typically provide only a subset of mission-critical equipment, services and data. Although equipment and siting costs are similar, data synchronization and ongoing maintenance and monitoring costs don't apply to warm sites.

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