Backups and archiving are two critical components of data management, which are often confused and used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences between the two, and it is crucial to understand these differences to ensure that your data is protected and secure.

While both backups and archiving involve making and storing copies of data, their purposes and processes are distinct.

Understanding the differences between the two can help develop effective strategies for data protection, retention, and management.

First of all, let's make some distinctions.

What is a backup?

It might be obvious, but a backup refers to the process of copying important data and storing it in a separate location for safekeeping. Backups are typically created as a precautionary measure to protect against data loss or corruption in the event of a system failure, accidental deletion, or cyber attack.

They are generally performed on a regular basis and may be incremental, meaning only changes since the last backup are saved, or full, where an entire copy of the data is created. Backups are often stored for a short period of time, such as days or weeks, and are used to restore data to its previous state. However, depending on the needs of the business, backups can be kept for as long as required, but this can be an expensive and challenging exercise. This is where archiving with the correct software can be of assistance.

What is archiving?

Archiving refers to the process of moving older, less frequently used data to a separate storage location for long-term retention. Archiving is typically done to free up space on the primary storage or backup storage systems or to comply with legal or regulatory requirements that mandate the retention of certain types of data for a specific period of time. Archived data is usually indexed and organised in a way that makes it easy to retrieve if needed, but it is not intended to be regularly accessed or modified.

Backups vs Archiving: advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to backup and archiving, there are several critical considerations that organisations must take into account. Primarily, a business needs to make the distinction between what data is important enough to be backed up, and what data can be archived.


👍 Advantages

  • Designed for quick restoration in the case of data loss.
  • Daily backups can be performed for critical data to ensure minimal loss.
  • Can be stored locally or in the cloud, providing flexibility and redundancy.
  • Backups are typically stored in a format that allows for easy restoration.

👎 Disadvantages

  • It can be challenging to provide long-term storage for data that may not need to be accessed frequently.
  • Depending on the requirements, frequent backups of critical data can be time-consuming and costly if configuration of your backup software is not correct.


👍 Advantages

  • Provides long-term storage for data that may not need to be accessed frequently.
  • Allows organisations to free up space on primary and backup storage devices.
  • Can be stored in a variety of locations, including cloud-based storage.
  • Data can be highly compressed to save space.

👎 Disadvantages

  • Restoration of data may take longer than restoration from a backup and if access to the data is urgent this can incur higher charges from cloud-based service providers to expedite data retrieval.
  • Determining criteria for moving data to an archive can be challenging.
  • Accessing data from an archive may require the use of specialised software depending on the storage location.

Building a reliable backup and recovery strategy

A comprehensive data management strategy involves not only capturing, storing, and using data but also safeguarding it against loss, corruption, or theft. Backups and archiving are two key components of such a strategy that help protect and preserve data, but business leaders need to understand that they serve different purposes.

While they may seem similar, there are significant differences between the two, including the purpose, frequency, storage location, and format of the stored data. Understanding these differences is critical for ensuring that your data is protected and secure, and for choosing the right data management strategy for your organisation.

If you would like to know more about what data management system would best suit your business, contact us today.

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