In some instances, data backups and archiving are mixed up with one another. Sometimes, the terms are used interchangeably; however, the two are very different. In order to run cost effective operations, it’s very important for IT infrastructures to differentiate between the two and dedicate purpose built services and solutions for them. Let’s attempt to draw a fine line between backup and archival data and then work around the process of data backup and archiving.

Differentiating Backup Data and Archival Data

differentiating backup and archival data

Backup data, whether it’s being stored on backup appliances or on cloud backup solutions, is the data that prevents data loss and ensures data recoverability. It’s the compressed form of data that can be decompressed using relevant software or appliance. In terms of access frequency, this data is accessed once a month or once in two months; normally categorized as infrequently accessed or cold data.

Archival data on the other hand is data that businesses have to maintain due to compliance reasons or for future reference or research purposes. This data is retained on either on-premises infrastructure or cloud based archiving services like Amazon Glacier or Azure Archive blob. In terms of access frequency, archival data is accessed once every four or six months; or in some cases, once a year.

Simply put, archival data is just old data. You can create backups of archival data as well; in some cases, compliance regulations need you to do that. For instance, if you’re a health service provider then no matter how old the patient’s records are; you need to keep them on your databases and you need to have a way to recover them in case the hardware fails or the primary data is lost. In this case, it’s both archival data and you’re creating backups for it.

The process of Data Backup and Archiving

Backups and archiving can be done in the following ways:

  • IT environments can create backups and archives on on-premises backup appliances.
  • IT environments can also create backups and archives on cloud based services.
  • Another thing that IT environments can do is use hybrid solutions store data locally (on-premises) and then create backups and archives on the cloud.

Backup appliances are a good way to deliver optimized data recoverability and ensure availability. However, cloud based backup are a more cost effective option for businesses on a tight budget.

For effective data management, it’s very important that the IT infrastructure analyzes the data flowing throw their systems. With the data analytics, the data should be classified into three major types:

  • Frequently Accessed Data or Hot data.
  • Infrequently Accessed data or Cold data.
  • Archival data.

types of enterprise data

Once this segregation is completed, the data can be stored in purpose built storage tiers. It’s better to keep hot data close by for reduced latency as enterprise operations cannot tolerate the delay. For cold data like backups and archival data, it’s better to find suitable cloud storage solutions. For instance, Azure Cool blob Storage and AWS S3-IA are good options for cold data storage and Azure Archive blob and AWS Glacier are purpose built services for archival data storage.

What’s your take on the subject? Comment below and remember to share with like minded professionals.