To Backup or To Archive? What is the Difference?


You know you need to secure your data, but how? This article examines the different benefits of both options.

Back in the “old” days, businesses kept important information on paper and stored them in filing cabinets for easy access. When there were too many files someone would do a big clean out. Older documents would get boxed and stored or “archived” in the basement or another storage area. The documents may still be needed for tax, compliance or other reasons but are not needed for immediate retrieval.

A similar scenario is true of digital business data. You can back it up to recover from hardware failure, cyberattack, or disaster event. Or you might archive the data for space management and long-term retrieval.

Deciding Between Backup and Archive

When it comes to the right form of data storage you’ll need to weigh up the following:

  • the period of time you need to keep the data for;
  • what protections from loss or illicit access your method offers;
  • whether the data can be easily restored or retrieved;
  • how accessible, searchable and quickly available the data will be;
  • any legal, industry or compliance standards that need to be met.

The backup is a copy of your data. On a regular basis you’ll make a copy of the business data to provide you with a starting point in the event of a disaster. You’ll decide how often to backup based on how often the data changes and the importance of that data.

Backing up data, an operating system, or application files, does not delete the originals. However, your older backup may be deleted when you make the new copy. Keeping multiple backups will allow you to go back and review or recover earlier versions.

It is best to have several backups of your data. We recommend having three copies of your data each on a different medium. One would be in the cloud, one on an external device (eg external hard drive) and the third on your local computer. You should also alternate the local external hard drive backup onto multiple devices.

Archiving puts a copy of business data into long-term storage. This is the data equivalent of moving the box of files to the basement and usually, the archived version becomes the only available copy of that data.

The archives’ permanent record of data may prove useful for future reference or for legal issues. Archived data is often tagged to enable streamlined searching at a later stage. Moving information to archive can also improve processing speed and storage capacity.

While a backup may be overwritten, archived data is generally not able to be altered or deleted. In fact, it is often physically disconnected from the computer or network. So, you will need to turn to a backup to restore your data if necessary, and to archives to retrieve information data.

Key Takeaway

Depending on your requirements and amount of data you have both backups and archives can prove useful. It is not going to happen every day, but entire digital archives can be lost if a server is drowned by a flash flood. All the paper backups can be burnt to cinders in an electrical fire. That external hard drive could be stolen or dropped.

It’s best to avoid having a single point of failure. Both backing up and archiving your business data is a smart precaution. Ensure business continuity by preparing for the worst. Our computer experts can help you backup, archive or do both. Start securing your business data with our support today! Contact DP Computing now on 08 8326 4364 or

One thought on “To Backup or To Archive? What is the Difference?

  1. Bachelor of Management of Business in Telecommunication and Informatics Telkom University on said:

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