Archive or backup: Do you need both?

Data backup is generally for short-term storage and recovery, while archives are for long-term storage and regulatory retention. Backups and archives are sometimes confused with each other, but they are not the same thing and offer different benefits. The obvious question is: do you need both, and if not, which should your organization choose?

Archives and backups, as we have discussed in previous articles, fill different roles in an organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery planning.


The difference between a backup and archive, as seen in the infographic above, is in their intent as well as the technological approach to how one achieves this. An archive is geared towards discoverability, long term storage, and legal compliance, while backups are more focused on recent and relevant data.

Backup systems are an older standard

Backup systems have been in use almost as long as computers themselves; while older physical mediums like tapes have gradually been replaced by fully digital options, the function remains broadly the same and even tapes remain in limited use.

With a backup system, the live network is regularly captured and a copy is stored. In the case of any issue – ranging from data corruption, cyberattacks, ransomware locked disks or so on – the network can be rolled back and restored to a previous iteration. Any changes from the most recent backup copy are lost.

The limiting factor there becomes storage space as well as how often such a data capture is made. The more recent, the better your chance is that the data stored remains relevant and valuable to the business. At the same time, there is a nonzero chance that this more recent data may include the compromising element, leaving businesses with a balance to strike.

What is an archive?

Archives are the answer to modern requirements. Unlike backup, archived data is not a copy, but rather inactive data an organization needs to keep. Reasons for archiving include legal regulations and compliance, chiefly eDiscovery and related frameworks. Depending on the organization and type of original data, an archive may hold data for years. Archiving can also save an organization money by moving data off of a more costly primary storage device.


The infographic above lays out the three primary categories of data protection. Archives and backups were initially optimized for separate sections of this spectrum. As time has gone on, however, there has been a trend towards convergence and trying to cover more of the spectrum with a unitary system.

Does your organization need both?

By virtue of their indexing and more organized structure archives make full restoration unnecessary, as it is possible to search for and access information directly in the archive environment rather than rehydrating it back into the live system. This is both faster and more efficient, boosting employee productivity by eliminating unnecessary steps in their workflows without compromising on data safety.

As such, many of the data protection concerns that would normally fall under a backup can be addressed perfectly well by an archive or a hybrid solution. Backups are limited in accessibility and how easily data can be read off of them, limiting the utility of the stored copy.

Additionally, if organizations combine their archive and backup into a single solution, the same IT administrator could manage both backups and the archival data. This greatly simplifies the organizational structure needed to keep your data protection measures running.

Our contentACCESS represents the best option for your archiving needs

In considering if an archive or backup is the right choice, and which individual solution would best meet your company requirements, look no further than contentACCESS. Our solution provides coverage of your most critical business information – including SharePoint, Emails, Microsoft Teams, and other files. All of these are kept secure within a single unified archiving system, while remaining completely accessible for your employees through a variety of means including our Web Access portal, Outlook integration options and mobile app.

In addition to the added efficiency and accessibility provided by contentACCESS, our archive can also guarantee all the retention options and policies required to ensure your company remains not only safe and secure, but also in compliance with the continuously expanding legal frameworks regulating data retention. contentACCESS keeps your stored information versioned and discoverable, based on policies and guidelines you can set and adjust to best meet both your legal requirements and personal needs.

If our offer interests you, and your company is ready to guarantee their critical information’s safety going forward, contact us. Our team of specialists will gladly schedule a cost-free consultation with you where we can go over how you can best leverage our decades of experience for your business’ benefit.


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by Matúš Koronthály