On Backup, Archiving, and Backup Archiving

Backup, Archiving, and Backup Archiving are three different things. Here is why:


  • Data storage for the purpose of recovery when the original data is lost or corrupted.
  • To protect against accidental file modifications and system failures.
  • Generally supports snapshots for recovery to a given point of time in the past.
  • The entire data is backed up initially, and then Incremental backup is employed (along with technologies like deduplication and compression) so that only the changes are sent/stored from the next time.
  • Generally, backups are taken at the end of the day/week. But Near Continuous Data protection is also possible, for critical applications.
  • Can backup data to a second location, removable storage, or public cloud.
  • Recovery time needs to be quick.
  • Sometimes, if primary source is deleted (by the admin), backup is also deleted.


  • Data is stored for retention or long-term preservation.
  • Everything is stored (another device, removable storage media, public cloud) just once without much need for frequent saving/retrieval.
  • Driven by regulatory requirements and internal rules and user needs like in cases where someone wants to retrieve an email attachment they deleted a couple of years ago.
  • Archiving systems should be easily indexable, searchable, retrievable, and exportable.
  • Email archiving is common, but archiving can be done for any type of data.
  • Disaster Recovery is another driver.
  • Even if primary source is deleted, data from archives is not deleted.
  • Provision for protection of intellectual property through encryption, etc. maybe available.

Backup Archiving:

  • Backup archiving refers to retention of backup data (monthly or yearly) for long-term preservation.
  • Generally, backups are archived in a secondary location (offsite) by writing to storage systems or removable media like tape drives and DVDs.
  • Cloud-storage is also adopted for backup archiving nowadays, with Public Cloud providers like Amazon giving special plans for data archiving that doesn’t require frequent retrieval.

Reference: Backup and Archiving Explained (Barracuda); Email Backup and Archiving – Differences (Barracuda)

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