Data Storage: The Difference between Backups and Archives

Posted by Mary McCoy on Jul 1, 2015 6:00:00 AM


Not all data storage was created equal. Data backup and data archiving may seem analogous because they both involve the storage of copied data, but the two were designed with very different purposes.

In this blog post, we'll match these two processes up, explaining the key distinction between the two and examining what each require to be effective for optimal data retention and retrieval.

Data Backups

TechTarget defines a backup as "the activity of copying files or databases so that they will be preserved in case of equipment failure or other catastrophe." Yes, backup is used as a data security measure in case of file corruption, user error, and severe weather disaster recovery situations. It's one half of the backup and disaster recovery (BDR) puzzle, but what separates backup from BDR is the added layer of proactivity. When a client's on-premise data is compromised or lost entirely, hosting providers want to have a plan in place to get them back up and running with minimum downtime. This is something most of your SMB clients get wrong and why the distinction between backup and archiving has become blurred. Just having another copy of the data living in a separate location is not a proper backup solution. 

What's one thing you need in your backup technology?

Speedy Restoration

It's not just about data storage, but swift recovery of that data you're storing. By leveraging backup technology with Bare-Metal Restore, you'll be able to recover entire servers fast from disk-based backup. You don't have to first divide up your drive and reinstall the operating system. 

You don't want to just restore data quickly, however. You want to restore the most recent version of the original data. In order to optimize this recovery point, you have to use technology with a small backup window. The solution is Continuous Data Protection (CDP) at the block level, which allows you to backup only the data that's changed in a given disk or volume and reads data directly from that disk or volume. As a result, your server only has to look in one place for the necessary data, which preserves its performance and prevents it from becoming overtaxed. Backups are quick and painless. 

Data Archives

When we think of archiving something, we typically think we're saving it for later use, but don't have a set time in mind for when that might be. According to ComputerWeekly, data archives are "intended as a repository for data that needs to be stored for periods that may extend to decades." Unlike data backups, there's no real sense of urgency or need to quickly access this stored data. 

What then makes for effective data archiving?


Since data archives are meant for long-term data retention with no clear restoration window, that data tends to pile up. Imagine the user experience if your clients had to sift through all of these various collections of data to find what they're looking for. That's why your backup technology should have archiving with a robust and efficient search function that lets you browse for file names and their locations.

Think about your own email inbox. When you're looking for an email from months ago, you apply filters and search by keyword to find the right message, rather than scroll through hundreds upon thousands of threads. Clients need to be able to perform a similar targeted search when digging for data to minimize the hassle. 

Backup & Archives - 1 Technology Built around 2 Different Processes

Are any of your clients required to archive data monthly or annually? Just as R1Soft's own CDP technology lets you optimize the Recovery Point by performing regular block level backups and expedites data restoration through bare metal restores, it also streamlines the data archiving process by letting you specify the hour, day, week, or month that you archive clients' data. That way, you can not only optimize their Recover Point, but Archive Point as well. As described in our Knowledge Base, the Archive Point is basically a copy of the most recent Recovery Point and can be used for long-term data storage to provide further integrity and safe-keeping of data. It supports all of the Recovery Points' functionality. If you wanted to use the search function within an archive, for instance, you would select the "Archive Points" list, find an Archive Point and click on the "Browse" icon in the "Actions" column, as depicted below:


You can also browse and restore your files as well as perform a Bare-Metal Restore, using the same interface. In the end, you'll get one technology with two different functions, each offering ease of use and efficient data storage and retrieval!

Download "The Big Book of Backup"

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Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is Continuum’s resident Inbound Marketing Specialist and social media enthusiast. She recently graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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Topics: Backups, Bare-Metal Restore, archiving, block-level backup

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