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What is the difference between Archiving and Backups?

What is the difference between Archiving and Backups?
Cassandra Ball | 20-06-18

We’ve had a few new clients lately ask “Why do I need archives if I already have backups?”  Archiving and Backups are two terms that may seem very similar but are used for entirely different reasons. Yes, they both involve making a copy of your data and storing it away for a rainy day (a really rainy day, like monsoon rainy day) however, that is where their similarities end. 

Backups and archives are actually used for completely different purposes and are different in many ways. So let’s answer some questions and clear up the confused identity of Archives and Backups. 


An archive is a long-term solution. Imagine Archiving as boxing up all your business data and storing it away in the back filing room. At the end of every day, you add to the box of business data. 5 years go by and you realising you need a specific file again! With archiving, you are able to pop out the back, pick up the one file, as it was 5 years ago. 

Data archiving is commonly used in industries that need to keep client information for a regulatory amount of time. 7 years is quite common. The goal of archiving is not to restore lost data quickly, but to store data and organise it in a way that you can easily search through to find a specific file or information as it was on a specific date. 


Backups only retain a short timeframe of data. Here comes another analogy - Imagine Backups as if at the end of each day you leave a copy of your business data files in the filing cabinet out the back. You arrive at work the next day and realise that your office has flooded and all your data is destroyed! You’re able to go out the back and retrieve the entire filing cabinet and set it up in your new or temporary office. 

There are two kinds of backups that you can use to protect your business. 

Image Backups 

Image Backups are a clone of your machine or server. We make a copy of the whole server that can be restored quickly onto hardware if the current hardware has failed, something has happened to the software or all the data.

Replica Backups

Replica Backups are more affordable than they used to be, and as such, we have many small businesses with replicas of their servers. A Replica is when we set up a machine that is mirroring the live server as close as possible. In the event of a disaster, we are able to quickly get your business running again by starting up the replica server. 


You should not pit data backup against data archiving; you should use them together to more efficiently store and recover data and reduce backup time and cost

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