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Better Information Management Through Backups and Archiving

For some, backups and archiving are the same. While this is not true, what is true is that together they can enhance your information management

Backups and Archiving on commonly thought to be the same thing. In fact, they are quite different and they have different, yet no less important functions.

The difference:

In simple terms, backups are used for the swift recovery of data.

Archives on the other hand are used for long-term storage of data, typically for retention purposes.

Let’s look at Backups first…


How Data Backups Enhance Information Management

Data Backups are a vital part of Information Management in that they allow data to be recovered quickly in the event of data loss.

Typically, backups are used for disaster recovery but they are also used for moving data from one storage system to another.

One of the ways backups differ from archives is the fact that whole systems can be backed up. This means software, operating systems, production data, inactive data etc. can all be duplicated and in essence mirrored on a new storage system.

When it comes to disaster recovery, the ability to do this is incredibly valuable. Backups generally allow fast recovery and access to the information is swift.

Backups can be done using tapes, hard drives or the cloud.

The systems used for backups tend to be more expensive than those used for archiving. This is one of the reasons backups are sometimes substituted for archiving. This however is an incorrect usage of archiving. To properly understand this, let’s take a look at archiving.


Better Information Management Through Archiving

Unlike backups, archiving cannot restore data quickly, nor can it restore entire data storage systems.

This is because unlike backups, archives are not meant to store operating systems, software and every piece of data your organisation owns.

Data archives store very specific types of data and are best used for the retention of data that has legal or regulatory status. For examples, archives can store all a company’s email data. Or all its employee records, or financial records. Archives are very specific in terms of the data stored and through metadata allow specific pieces of data to be located quickly.

Tapes are the preferred method of storing archive data as they are more cost-effective than typical backup storage media and are excellent for long term storage.

Unlike backups, archives are typically stored offsite and are not connected or plugged into anything. Thus they are secure from hacking and corruption from malware and viruses but they are also not immediately available.



Backups and archives have very different purposes and should not be used in place of the other. Both are valuable, more so when used together.

Correct use of backups and archives with provide your organisation with many layers of data protection and risk mitigation. Implemented correctly they will be more cost effective and useful than muddling the two together into some sort of hybrid.

For more information on how you can enhance your information management through backups and archiving, contact Iron Mountain today.


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