Backup and archive. Two words that are often used interchangeably but have very different meanings. While both technologies support primary data storage, there are key differences between them. Five key differences between backup and archive include;
1. Definitions: The most important point here is that backup is typically used for recovery, while archiving is typically utilised for long-term preservation and retention.
2. Financial Value: Most IT departments think about their budget. Tiering data and putting it in its correct resting place via archiving is more cost-effective than backup. That’s why many companies choose to use tape storage as their primary mode of archiving data. While disk and cloud can help you get data quickly via lightening fast backups, tape is a cost-effective method of storage for the data you need to keep for retention, litigation or business purposes.
3. Solutions: We have mentioned that backup and archives solve different problems, so let’s take a deeper drive.
Backup: protects both your active and inactive data (all of your production data). You can backup your information via tape, disk or the Cloud. Backup is a copy of production information. Your data still resides on the production storage system themselves. That means that if your backup system faces major data loss (due to a security attack, disaster etc.), you could continue normal operations. Your production data won’t be impacted, though you would be operating at an increased risk.
Archive: Archive solutions are often used to retain inactive or older data for extended periods of time. Archives are optimised for low-cost, long-term storage. Archives hold production data, meaning a loss or corruption of an archive system will likely result in the permanent loss of production information. Keep in mind that this data will likely be older or less used, but it could also be the only copy.
4. Access: Backup and archive applications offer different levels of access to the user.
Backup: These applications are typically used for large scale recoveries. Backup data is written to deduplication appliances or tape libraries and for disaster access to large volumes of information. Backup applications may be used to protect application and OS files, in addition to individual data objects – though it’s optimised for larger scale recoveries. It’s best for recovering applications or complete systems.
Archive: Archives are designed to store individual data objects such as email messages, files and databases, along with metadata. An archive can provide quick, specific access to stored information – so it’s easy to find that specific email from five years ago. Metadata can help you zoom in your content search. Unlike backup systems, archive do not provide volume level or full server recoveries. They contain only a subset of your business’ data.
5. Disaster Recovery:
Backup: Disaster Recovery (DR) is closely tied with backup. IT professionals typically run backup jobs to protect their information and a separate process to move their data offsite for disaster recovery purposes, creating a robust data protection process.
Archive: Maintaining your archive system disaster recovery can be difficult and costly. Organisations are often forced to purchase two identical, expensive archive systems (for the DR site and for the production environment) because most replication implementations are proprietary. Unlike traditional DR, the ability to control replication, rollback data to previous restore points and manage bandwidth usage varies widely depending on the archive system.
Conclusion: Each is great but both are better.
Though backup and archive solve very different issues, they can easily complement one another in your company’s overarching data management plan. If your organisation has had trouble delineating between the two in the past, accessing or retrieving your archive data may be a complex and time-consuming process. Working with a data management partner that can manage your data across its lifecycle can significantly ease this process.