Data backup vs data archiving: what’s the difference?

Improving data handling, storage and management has been vital for businesses over the last few years; especially as more and more processes become digital. Data backup and archiving both fall into this category, and provide options when it comes to the consolidation and security of your business’ vital and sensitive data. However, there are some key differences between the two.


This is one of the areas where the differences between data backup and archiving become very obvious. The main reason that most businesses invest in data backup, for example, is to provide a resource that will be used in the future if a critical situation arises, such as a hardware failure, data loss, security breach or corruption. By having a comprehensive data backup system in place, this will contribute to

Having a data backup in place will mean that the data the business has access to can be restored to a point in the past when the last backup was completed. Data archiving is a more administrative process that is used on a more sporadic basis to help ensure efficiency and compliance. It creates storage for data over a long period of time – that data may not be something that is required every day but it may be necessary to retain it for records or to comply with the law.


Archived files are generally not currently in use: If these files are removed from the business’ usual central storage, it won’t affect the way that employees do their job. That’s not the case for data that is involved in backup, as this will usually be critical information that is required by people across the organisation to complete their everyday tasks.

Backup data doesn’t get moved: In fact, when a backup of data takes place, a copy is created and it’s this that is stored as a protective mechanism – the original data stays where it is and there is no visible change in location. Archiving data, on the other hand, involves relocating the data from its original position. The benefits of doing this involve freeing up space in the business’ primary storage location and reducing costs, as archive data storage can be less expensive.

A data backup happens on a regular basis: While archiving data might be a single event, a backup will happen continuously. Data backups need to be achieved quickly and regularly to ensure that, if an adverse event occurs, the most recent version of all data will be available. For data archiving the relocation happens once and the speed at which it takes place isn’t that relevant.

Data archives need to be searchable: Because data archiving is a long-term arrangement and can involve a high volume of data it’s vital that this data is easy to search easily and efficiently. That’s especially so where data may be required quickly to ensure regulatory or legal compliance. A data backup does not need to be searched and will be stored over a far shorter period of time.

Data archiving and data backup have unique functions, but both are vital business investments. To find out how we here at Servnet can help with the data back up or storage of your business’ critical information, contact us via email at or call us on 0800 987 4111 and speak to one of our specialists.