You and/your IT department backup your data every day, or every week. Backing up data is not the same as archiving it. Why? Backup is about ensuring that if something goes wrong with a file or data that you regularly work on/with you can ‘recover’ it, i.e. go back to a working version, even if you have to redo some of your work.
Archive is about being able to access the work you have done, but in the future. Archive is about the data or information that holds a value for you, something you need to keep for reference or regulatory compliance etc.
Consider your home PC or laptop – it has your most treasured photos on it, your finance files, and many other personal documents. How often to you look at your photos? You back them up, don’t you, but when was the last time you looked at them? How much space do they take on your PC? Do you have to move things to external disc regularly (where they are no longer backed up) just to make room for the Christmas photos?
Now apply that to a business context. Let’s say instead of photos, we’re looking at microscopy images or genome sequences. How do you decide where to put the data to preserve it? Does it go on your laptop? Or do you transfer it to an external drive on your desk? What do you do when it’s full? Get another, and another and another?
Here are our favourite four characteristics of Archive and Backup – these will help you determine what’s needed for you and your business (and maybe even at home!).
- A – Data stored won’t change
- B – Data stored will be different/will change
- A – Data is retrieved for reuse
- B – Data is retrieved when a disaster hits
- A – Stores data that needs to be kept for a long time (1 year, 5 years, 25 years or even further)
- B – Stores data for the life of the backup cycle
- A – Stores data that is needed for regulatory compliance; to free up space on desktops, laptops and servers; and/or to reduce costs of backups
- B – Stores data for disaster recovery
Conclusion? You need both. You need to backup regularly and you need an archive too.