Archiving vs Backup – What’s The Difference?

Data archiving and data backup typically take similar methodology however they are not the same and fundamentally serve different purposes for organisations.

Archiving vs Backup – What’s The Difference?

Data archiving and data backup typically take similar methodology however they are not the same and fundamentally serve different purposes for organisations.

posted in ArchivingBackup & Recovery ● 1 Oct 2018

Data protection and management is vital to modern IT environments, and organisations know this. Data protection regulations mandate the need for organisations to prevent data breaches and well publicised data breaches are regularly making headline news, with negative reputational effects for those affected. Through the life cycle of data, organisations will have to take different actions to ensure data is managed correctly. Two such methods are data backup and data archiving and while they can be similar they are not the same.

How to archive data

There are several methods that can be used to archive data, typically all resulting in an off-site copy of data being kept for a set retention period as identified by the organisation. Historically only enterprise organisations with large budgets and huge data sets had a requirement for archiving and it was fulfilled through on-site solutions. These enterprise archiving solutions often utilised tape as a medium to store archive data; to securely store this off site then involved a member of staff or a third-party organisation manually moving the tape to a secure location. More modern archiving methods often rely on the use of cloud technologies. Cloud-based archiving solutions automate the process that takes data off site, often speeding up the time taken to archive data.

How to back up data

Data backup is a primary function of all IT teams whether at an enterprise organisation or an SME/SMB, charity or public-sector organisation. Similar to archiving, over the years methods of how backup can be done have evolved. Historically organisations would back up to removable hardware such as tape or to an appliance or dedicated server on site. These processes utilised local speeds and were not limited by internet connection in any way, but left organisations susceptible to full site loss if a copy of data was not replicated or taken off site. As with archiving this could be done manually or by a third-party organisation.

More modern methods of backing up data will often utilise cloud platforms, public or private, as a means of storing a copy of data securely off site. This more automated process has benefits in reducing the possibility of human error, cutting the total time taken to back data up off site and less management time. A hybrid approach is often taken, giving organisations the ability to keep an on-site copy of backup data for faster restores while keeping the resiliency of an off-site cloud backup solution.

So, what’s the difference?

Data archiving and data backup typically take similar methodology. However they are not the same and fundamentally serve different purposes for organisations.

Data Backup can be defined as the process of taking a copy of data at a fixed point in time and storing it for a set time frame (retention) in an alternate location to its original source.

Data Archiving can be defined as the migration of data from primary storage systems onto secondary storage systems, often for long-term retention.

Data archiving is primarily used within organisations to manage data volumes across primary storage, often reducing capacity utilisation and to provide long-term retention. In addition, this can often present organisations with cost savings due to costs associated with primary platforms; secondary storage platforms, whether tape or dedicated hardware, are often run on lower cost storage than primary systems. Data backups’ primary use is to ensure data is protected against loss or deletion and to ensure that data is available for access when needed. While both of these processes assist organisations with their data management, the fundamental difference is that data archiving deals with inactive data and data backup deals with active data.

Data archive solutions and data backup solutions are used for regulatory purposes and with GDPR now in effect, both are likely to play important roles for organisations and their data management processes moving forward.

Unifying data management

While backup and archiving are fundamentally different solutions there are some solutions with the ability to unify this process, simplifying management of solutions and streamlining the data management process. Redstor unifies backup, disaster recovery and archiving into one simple-to-manage, highly secure solution.

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