Principal Consultant @ fme AG
March 3, 2020
Although backup and archiving are two completely different use cases, the two terms still get mixed up quite frequently. However, knowing the difference is important in order to run your IT infrastructure efficiently. Therefore, let’s review the two terms and get them straight!
An archive is a system to which inactive data is transferred. Inactive means, in any case, that the data is in its final state and therefore not changed anymore. Often, but not always, it also means that it no longer needs to be accessed frequently. Each record in an archive should have a retention period assigned, which defines exactly how long it needs to be retained. If data has to be stored for a very long period of time, it might purposely be changed upon transmission to the archive – for example by converting it into a format suitable for long term preservation. The archive’s aim is not to restore the data in its original form or system, but to simply make the information available upon request. This fact is also expressed by referring to the process of getting information from an archive as retrieval and not restore. So, if you put a Microsoft Word document into an archive and want to view it ten years later, the archive is likely to provide a TIFF or PDF/A file, which resembles your original document.
An archive is a system that stores finalized records independent from the system they originated from to ensure preservation.
A backup provides a copy of data or an entire system, so it can be restored in case of damage or loss. Software applications are usually backed up regularly. The sole purpose of the backup is to restore data in case something unexpected happens. This something might be a disk failure, a computer virus or an error during a software update. A backup does not change the data. If you backed up a Microsoft Windows NT server with an Oracle 8 database, after restoring you will have again a Windows NT server with an Oracle 8 database.
Having a backup is having a copy.
Having the same information at least twice, so you can restore it in case of loss.
Knowing the above, it is obvious why a backup falls short to serve as an archive. It cannot ensure that the information stays detectable and readable over time. It also fails to enforce an orderly disposal. Strictly speaking, a document that can be restored by a backup at any time does not count as deleted from a legal point of view.
Moving inactive data from your systems that are used for daily business to an archive helps to reduce backup cost and time. There is no need to backup data over and over again that does not change anymore. Smartly using an archive as part of your IT infrastructure helps not only to reduce your backup window, but there are more benefits to it, such as the possibility to significantly improve performance of your active applications.
With migration-center you have a tool at hand that makes the transfer of data into an archive simple. Identify and extract the records eligible for archiving as a one-time activity or by scheduling recurring jobs. Enrich their metadata and add format renditions, such as PDF/A to meet long-term storage requirements if needed. Then import them to the archive. migration-center tracks the whole process and ensures that all data is transferred completely and correctly.
If you want to learn more about the topic, you are very welcome to leave us a message. Our Migration Services team is happy to answer your questions.