Archives vs. Backups

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AIIM – Archives vs. Backups.

While many confuse these two terms, these are two distinct—and important—action items for managing content and data properly

When the staffs from IT and Records and Information Management (RIM) go to the table and hammer out the differences between archiving and backing up data for the company, the company comes out a winner. Having separate processes for creating disaster recovery backup copies versus moving data into an archive are important for improving resource management as well as for responding to discovery requests.


The concept of backing up data is about making a copy of the entire system, that is, all data, the operating system, and all applications. This “copy everything” approach is designed to restore a system with its data in the event of a disaster or business disruption. When the data is copied onto a backup media, it is stored in random order and is not indexed so that the data can be easily accessed and isolated outside of the system. Disaster recovery backup copies should be made solely for the purpose of restoring the operating system or application and its associated data only in the event that a disaster destroys the system.


Archiving, on the other hand, entails “moving” data from a production system to a near- or off-line solution. The data, with its associated metadata, is physically moved, and it is deleted from the production environment to allow the production system to optimize capacity for current business needs. The archived data is organized and indexed for easy access and retrieval. Archives are created so that inactive data that must be retained to fulfill retention requirements is properly preserved and indexed until its retention is met.

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DAM News Staff

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