The difference between backup and archive is often misunderstood in companies. In the area of data integrity and legal regulations, both for backup and for archiving of data, there are far-reaching differences for companies. A backup includes the ACTUAL state of a system at a specified point in time. An audit-proof archive, on the other hand, is a continuous record of data that cannot be manipulated or deleted.

What is backup?

A backup represents the current state of the system at the time of execution. If continuous backups are made, also known as incremental or differential backups, the changed data is included in the backup. Backups are primarily required to enable systems to be restored quickly in an emergency and to minimize the associated downtime. 

If consecutive backups are created and files are deleted in the meantime, these are not available in the backup. If a backup of an e-mail server is mistakenly used as an archive substitute, this results in legal grievances as well as in data integrity. In case of doubt, important files and e-mails cannot be found if they were received or sent between backups and deleted by the user.

Backups save your business!

Once it has happened, there is a great concern that deleted files can no longer be recovered. It is precisely at this time that it is often found that backup policies have not been tested or are poorly implemented. The right backup strategy is therefore more important than before. Important considerations to consider when planning for backup include:

  • What data is backed up?
  • Is high availability required?
  • How often do these need to be backed up?
  • Are the files redundant?
  • Is the backup readable?
  • Is the backup stored locally or in a cloud?

Adequate planning and ongoing testing is therefore essential in order to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Administrators and IT service providers know that backups are often defective when they are needed. Therefore, implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP). This clearly regulates who is responsible for what and when. In an emergency, you can react without panicking and the problem can be solved in a short time.

What is an archive?

In contrast to the backup, which records the ACTUAL state of the data, an audit-proof archive involves the continuous recording of files that cannot be manipulated or deleted. In an audit-proof e-mail archive, e-mails are copied to the archive via journaling directly when the e-mail is sent or received. This means that they cannot be deleted or manipulated. 

In addition, such an archive has, for example, separate user roles and an audit log, which logs any changes in the archive. This log cannot be deleted. The stored files are subject to legal retention periods. As a rule, these 10 years are for business correspondence. After this retention period, the data can be removed from the archive either manually or using a defined rule.

An archive is more than a data repository

The potential of archive solutions is sometimes still underestimated. What initially looks like a pure source of costs turns out to be the ideal research tool when handled correctly. Not only employees and bosses are happy about this. E-mails from days long past can be found in the shortest possible time using efficient search queries. In addition, IT departments can devote themselves to day-to-day business and do not have to laboriously search for and restore e-mails in old backup statuses for users. 

That saves time and money. To ensure that the archive does not become a data octopus and grows unstoppably, when choosing the archive solution, it is important to ensure very high compression and deduplication. This ensures that the storage space is used optimally and kept as small as possible.

It is not a question of backup or archive

It is not a question of whether a backup or archive must be used. Both variants go hand in hand, since both the backup and the archive have their own requirements and fulfill them in the IT environment.