The Key Difference Between Data Backup and Data Archiving

Posted on October 25, 2021

Backup vs archive. Two words that are often used interchangeably but have very different meanings. It’s important to understand the difference between them to ensure that your data storage methodology meets your needs in a number of key areas:


  • Secured from loss and unauthorized access
  • Reduces operational costs
  • Retained for the period of time you require
  • Improved security
  • Enhanced Compliance
  • Protects you from any legal claims
  • Ensures that your data is audit-proof
  • Structured or tagged to enable locating specific data


            To differentiate the two terms, we must first define them.


Data backups are intended to provide a quick means of recovering data that’s in current or recent use in cases ranging from data corruption or accidental deletion to full disaster recovery (DR) scenarios. Speed of restoration is vitally important.


Data archiving is intended as a repository for data that needs to be stored for periods that may extend to decades. Speed of restoration from a data archive usually isn’t as critical as from a data backup, but searchability is of vital importance.


            Now, let’s explore the key differences between backup vs archive technologies.




Data Scope

all of your data, with the exception of unimportant information like temporary files

specific files that you must retain for compliance purposes


to restore your data to a previous point in time

to be used as repositories for data that needs to be kept for a long time but is not necessarily important for operational activities


Financial Value

Can help prevent data loss which means it helps prevent the potential loss of financial resources

more cost-effective


you can still continue normal operations if you face a major data loss

a loss or corruption will likely result in the permanent loss of production information

Access and Searchability

restore speed is important

retrieval speed is not a priority

Disaster Recovery

creates a robust data protection process

maintaining archive system disaster recovery can be complicated


original data remains in place, while a backup copy is stored in another location

data is moved from its original location to an archive storage location

State of Data

constantly changing

once you create an archive, you do not modify it


speed is an important attribute

the ability to quickly recover and restore data  in the event of data loss is not as essential


much shorter; depending on its operational importance, the data stored in a backup may be updated as frequently as daily or even multiple times a day

may store large amounts of data for many years. For this reason, the integrity of retained data over longer time periods is of great importance



Data Retention Policy

you periodically delete or overwrite data backups that are too old to be useful

designed for long-term storage



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