Backup vs. data archive – what’s the difference?

Data backup and data archive are two terms that come with the topic of protection of business data. On the surface, it might seem that they are similar, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. They are used for very different purposes, and you must understand the differences between them. In this article, we will take a closer look at where the data archive shines, when is a time for backup, and what are the differences between them.

Why do you need a backup?

To answer the question of why you need a backup, we need to discuss what is the purpose of creating a backup, and what it exactly is. Backup is a copy of your data created to protect your business from data loss. It is performed mainly to create copies of currently used files. It enables protection against data corruption, accidental deletion, or loss caused by some natural disasters. The premise of a backup is to get your business up and running as fast as possible in case of downtime. Backups allow not only to protect important files but also the whole system environment. Usually, backups are not kept for long-term periods, because creating and keeping copies require resources and storage space.

If you want to learn more about why backup is important, check our older post about how to build a comprehensive backup strategy

Why do you need a data archive?

If we want to answer the question, we need to talk about the purpose of creating an archive in the first place. In opposition to backup, archives are a copy of your data created to be retained for a very long time. 

The main purpose of creating an archive is to make sure that you won’t lose any of the no longer processed data. The purpose is very familiar to the one of a backup, but the reasoning behind it is very different. The premise of creating an archive is to preserve your business data, that is no longer in active use. Resources like business papers, correspondence, legal documents, clients info, ex-employees, and more. Data is archived when an organization needs to hold on to information for extended periods, due to legal requirements, or company internal policies.

When it comes to creating a data archive the stored files need to be easily accessible, the speed of the data recovery isn’t a priority here. The other thing worth mentioning is that when you create an archive you usually keep only one copy of files.

The difference between data backup and data archive

Restore vs. retrieve

Now you can point out what data backup and data archive are, but to fully understand the difference between them, you also need to learn what distinguish data restore operation from data retrieving. 

We use the term restore mainly when it comes to a backup. In case of an accident, you want to restore the files to the state they were in before an accident happened. And that’s the backup role. You can restore a single email, single file, database, or even the whole system, it depends on what have you backed up, and how. 

If you want to see how to restore deleted emails from Microsoft Office 365 using Xopero ONE solution check this article

The term retrieve is strictly connected with archives and databases. To gain access to some specific files you need to define the search criteria first. That’s the important part – as those files aren’t essential you are not restoring them to the state they were, but rather you retrieve the files for some use.

Backup vs. archive

In the table below you will find the backup and archive summary. Think about it as a handy cheat sheet. 

Allows you to recover actively used data.Stores data no longer in use.
Multiple copies of the same data.Usually one copy of data.
Periodically deleted due to saving storage,
and no longer useful copies.
Long-term storage of the same files.
Restore the data to the point in time.Search and retrieve the data.
All data is useful and set for a backup.Data is required to be kept for a long time.
Duplicate copies are usually overwritten.Data cannot be altered or deleted.
Speed of recovery is crucial.Speed of retrieval is not that important.

Why do you need both of them?

Backup and data archives serve different functions in data security. You can say that they complement each other. So do you need both of them to keep your data safe and your organization compliant?

If you value your business data security, we strongly recommend that you use backup for data protection. The backup will protect your actively used data, from any accidents, and will allow you to quickly recover your systems in case of disaster. The data archive will allow you to safely store files that you don’t use anymore or the files that you need to hold on to due to legal compliance.

Creating a proper strategy for keeping your data safe, using backups and data archives, will allow you to ensure that your business information will be secure in the short-term (backups), and the long-term (archives) periods.

Whether you are looking for a backup or disaster recovery product to keep data safe and accessible, Xopero offers many professional solutions dedicated to the physical, virtual, or SaaS ecosystem backup. With this link, you can start 30 days free trial – no credit card required. Check for yourself how Xopero ONE can transform your organization’s data security to the next level!