Data Backup and Archiving: Know the Difference

Backup data and data Archive are the terms with so close meanings that they are often confused with each other. But there is a significant difference between backup and archiving. The main confusion arises because both of them are used in similar context but that is the handling of data. The difference arises in purpose and economy.

In reality, the two terms have a significantly different way of execution. The way they are termed and used makes them two faces of a coin.

There are so many organizations which use Archiving for preserving their data. At the same time, most of the corporations use Data Backup strategy to secure their information.

We will discuss some fundamental differences between data backup and archiving. The use in various scenarios and economical aspects of these two technologies.

Difference in Definition

There is very clear and simple difference in defining the two techniques. Lets take a look at the definitions;

Backup – Backup is targeted with the recovery of data. That suggests, creating a backup is done to retrieve the data at some point or in some device. Backing up data is the technique of saving your information synchronously or asynchronously to any storage unit. This will create the active and inactive data backup. So in a backup plan, you have all the data from your system which you can restore at any point in time.

Archive – An archive is the collection of pickup or specific data. This is usually done for long term retention of a particular piece of information. In this technique, all the inactive data or some part of important data is collected and secured. Archived information can be located and retrieved easily when needed. This is done with the sole purpose of retention of data for a longer time period.

In Terms of Data

What happens to the data when it is backed up or Archived?

Data Backup – The data backup technique uses all the data in your system. Even the active or an inactive data are saved and everything can be retrieved anytime. This strategy offers a great deal of security to your recurring information. The dynamic data is also saved and secured. There are a number of modes to back up your data like hard drives, cloud, and high-quality discs etc. All the organizations target to best strategies for data backup.

So during data backup, you are virtually copying all your information to a target memory location. All this information can be retrieved at convenience.

Archiving – This strategy is used for a different purpose than the above. It is basically used to maintain data for a longer period of time. Archiving is used to retain only inactive or old data for a long time.

The data used for archiving is the actual data, it makes archiving quite sensitive. The loss of archive files may lead to permanent deletion of your information.

What Solutions do they provide?

Both the technologies provide a very good solution for data safety;

Data Backup – The data backup is created to protect all the data. Even the active data is under a constant protection with data backup technology. A backup can be created using many platforms like cloud, disk, hard drive etc.

It creates a copy of your data, which means if there is a backup failure, your original data will not be affected. You only have to take care of current data and acknowledge that you do not have a backup strategy.

Archiving – This solution is used to retain inactive data for a significantly long duration. Generally, tapes are employed for storage of information. In an archive, everything is not stored, but only some important or selected data is archived or saved. This data is the actual data of your system, and its loss is the permanent missing of files. The data in the archive is generally old and less used.


In terms of finance, both of the technologies stand apart with all their virtues and cost. Under this cost effective environment, their use is implemented with a lot of analysis and discussions;

Straight words, using archive is a very cost effective mode of storing information. Tapes are generally used to store the archived files in an organization. The cloud or disc are used to create backups but are a bit more costly than tapes. However, the cloud or discs backup have their advantages as they can restore information with a very high speed. The backup strategy takes the show despite being costly as it has the ability to synchronize your work and protect your data in a better way. Archiving is still used by some of the organizations as important data is kept in tapes as archived files.


Backup – This is basically used to duplicate a large amount of data. Thus a huge volume of information is copied in memory storage. This application is used to store all kind of files and information in your system including OS files. Backup is done for individual files or a whole system as per requirement. This is done to restore all the files and protect the data.

During disaster recovery, it is usually convenient and cheap to restore the backup. Also, recovering of deleted files from external hard drives is easy with some modern tools.

Archiving – these are designed to store old and important files. These are generally an individual or a group of data. Archiving is to ensure the longevity of a specific data or file. All the files in the archive are arranged with their attributes and thus any file can be referred easily when needed. In times of disaster, there is a huge issue of recovering files from the archive. It requires more effort and cost to restore your archived information.

Finally, there is a very great scope of using both the techniques for securing the information. Data backup and archiving have their importance in different situations and scenarios. Many of the firms prefer to keep an archive of their important business files and get a backup plan for the whole data.

Data Backup and Archiving: Know the Difference was last modified: December 21st, 2016 by John Harris

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