Backup Vs. Archiving

Mar 2012

Backup Vs. Archiving

Posted by Samantha Morris

There is some confusion amongst SMBs as to the differences between backup and archive.  These two processes are mutually exclusive – they cannot occur at the same time and are different processes with different objectives.  The most discernable issue around the key differences between the two processes relates to security, compliance and governance.

An archive is just a stored set of organized data and the goal is to achieve an intelligible data set for long periods of time and in a form that enables granular data retrievable.  This is important for businesses in highly regulated industries that include healthcare, legal, banking and securities.   

Archived data can be stored on multiples types of devices including tape, disk and in the cloud.  There are benefits to each; however it is important to determine the length of time for which you will need to keep your archives and the most cost effective means for your business is without sacrificing the integrity of your archives.

Here are the thinks you should consider when thinking about data archiving:

  • The archive needs to be able to operate with different data collections while treating them at the same level of integrity -- individual data records from a database as well as entire documents
  • The access speed of an archive can be slow, but archive should have an extremely high level of reliability
  • Data integrity must be maintained over the entire period of the archive existence –  there is no point in having an archive that you can't trust

The key reason for the existence of a backup is to provide an alternative data source in case the primary data source is corrupted or destroyed.  Backups are copies of data designed for short-term storage and its most identifiable characteristic is that it will go through frequent replacement and update under controlled circumstances. At that point, the old backup will become less relevant (or irrelevant) for operational purposes and the data will need to be backed up again.

Here are the things you should consider when thinking about data backup:

  • The backup needs to be quickly accessible
  • The backed up information should survive with full integrity and availability for several months on the backup media
  • The backup should be able to span multimedia media (if backup set is larger than media capacity)
  • The solution should be intelligent enough to enable different backup sets (full backup, incremental backup, differential backup, etc)

While backup and archive solutions are both very important, they provide two very different functions.  It’s important to take the time to understand the difference between the two or consult a managed services provider that can help you better assess your business needs.

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