Data Archiving refers to the removal of an actual item of data from its current location to a long-term storage system; usually because it is no longer being actively used or to declutter slow, clogged up systems.
Because this store of data can, ultimately, become vast; data is tagged and indexed, as it is stored, to facilitate later rapid, easy search and retrieval – mainly for Legal & Compliance e-Discovery Reasons.
In certain cases, data may also be encrypted in a manner to be able to demonstrate its authentic, unaltered status for later evidential purposes.
Data Backup Vs Data Archiving: It’s Important to Know the Difference
When talking about Data Protection, there seems to be universal confusion between the concepts of Backing up Data and Archiving Data. Indeed, we, at DataTrust, are still finding this confusion alive and well in the ranks of IT and Data Protection Professionals today!
At a high level, the main differences are: Backing up data is a safeguard for data that is in use.
In effect, our DataTrust Archiving Service gives you access to your data when you need it, therefore optimising your systems, so that they can deal more effectively with current business tasks.
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At a high level the main differences are:
An Example to Illustrate:
Data Backup: “We are currently negotiating a Contract with XYZ (Dublin) Ltd. Can I have last Tuesday’s Version of the Contract, please? I don’t want the most recent copy – we seem to have lost our way a bit and I want to go back to a point in time.”
Data Archive: “We agreed a contract with XYZ (Dublin) Ltd. in August 2005. Can I have a copy of that please?
|Data Backup||Data Archiving|
|Copy(s) of Data||Original Item|
|Original Still at Original Location||Removed from Original Location|
|Changing - So Retaining Versions May Be Important||Single Item Of Record - Versions Not Possible|
|Each Copy is Same Size as Original (Predictable Cost)||Unbounded Size (Need to be Cost Effective)|
|Definite Retention (days, months, years, etc.)||Indefinite Retention ( > Decades)|
|Live Changing Date to be Protected||Static Unchanging Data to be Retained|
|Indexing Not Required||Indexed for Rapid / Intelligent Searching|
The significant differences here is that the Contract agreed in 2005 is an Unchanging Matter Of Record of which there could only be one version, whereas the current contract being negotiated is an ongoing Work In Progress for which a Final Version has not been agreed – so it may be important to retain all iterations / versions of the Contract as it is negotiated.
Once an organization has a firm grasp of the differences, it doesn’t take long to realize that both backup and archiving are necessary, complimentary services for organizations of all sizes, especially those bound with Legal & Compliance Requirements.
The main focus or “raison d'etre” for Data Archiving is to provide a Low Total Cost of Ownership historical reference of information. The archive process' final product is a long term (decades) non-changeable copy of data or information.
It is understood and accepted that the archive media must be resilient, capable of surviving over long periods of time and must guarantee that the archived data remains unchanged during the entire archive lifespan. There should be an index of the archive media to facilitate rapid and easy retrieval.
The Function of Data Archiving
Another function of Data Archiving is to declutter underperforming “clogged up” systems. And most of these files are either rarely used, duplicates, or completely obsolete.
Storing this kind of data on your primary server will slow it down and decrease its search speed and performance. In order to maintain optimal performance of your primary servers, you need to regularly take older or less active data and move it off to another archival storage system.
Effectively, most Archive Systems will be storing Unlimited Amounts of Data for, relatively, Infinite Periods of Time; Total Cost of Ownership is an important factor.
The Focus of Data Archiving is for e-discovery. It's nothing like a data backup that runs as a batch process every night. With archive systems, data is archived in real time as they're being created or received.
Another difference between the two is the level of detail that archives store. Data archives store all of the metadata in a file. For example, in emails, a data archiving product stores the subject line, the sender and the receiver, and perhaps even looks into the body and attachment for key words.
Archives store all of this information in a database as well as store the document and email attachment in a similar way that a data backup system would. But essentially, archives take data and put it into a database that can be searched, whereas, in a backup system data is just stored on a tape, with no search capabilities.
Basically because Data Archiving and Data Backup have two totally different, albeit complimentary, purposes your data archiving purposes are very unlikely to be met by your data backup application.
If someone asks you for a specific email or file, you're not going to be able to go to your data backup system and fashion a query to yield the desired results. For example, let's say you have a full backup of your system for every Saturday of every week for the last five years.
Then your boss comes to you and says, "I want all files and emails with this particular Surname in them." In theory, you would have to restore and search all backups, in turn, until you have found all the files. That would mean restoring 5 Years x 52 Saturdays = 260 Backups and searching them all individually! This is, obviously, not an option.
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