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Cloud: Cloud Backup /= Cloud Archiving

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Slide15This is a guest post from Patrick Jobin at StoragePipe Solutions, a provider of world-class corporate data protection solutions including online backup and recovery, electronic archiving and business continuity.

Despite its mainstream acceptance, Software-as-a-Service is still a very new field.  And when it comes to data protection in the cloud, there are still many terms that are not yet well-understood by all. For this reason, “online archiving” and “online backup” are often believed to be the same, although they are – in fact – quite different from each other.

Online backup is great for automating the disaster recovery process. Instead of manually backing up to tape at the end of every day, the entire process is automated to run in the background.

Another great benefit of online backup is that it can help you improve your “restore point objectives”.  Instead of backing up every 24 hours, you can now back up every few minutes. This minimizes the amount of data you could possibly lose from a disk failure.

The only problem with this approach comes when you’re trying to back up extremely large amounts of data.  Not only does this cause longer backup windows, but it can also negatively affect emergency recovery times.

And backups aren’t the only problem. Excessive data storage can also cause a burden on IT systems by needlessly using up server resources. (This is why email quotas are such a pain for email server administrators)

For smaller organizations, the term “data archiving” is probably not used very often.  But as you company grows, and your data storage requirements become more sophisticated, you will probably need to start streamlining your servers by moving seldom-used files somewhere else to free up space.

This is why many companies will set up archiving policies that take inactive or older data off of the primary servers and store it in an alternate location.  This way, server resources are freed up, and backup/recovery times are shortened.

Here’s another way to think about it:

  • A backup is something that happens very often… because files are constantly changing.  This could be once a day, or many times per hour.  Also, backups keep many different versions of the files in case one of the more recent copies becomes corrupted.
  • Archiving is something that happens only once.  You only need a single snapshot of the file, because this file never changes.  A good example of an archival file would be a scanned contract or an old e-mail.  Neither of these two files will ever change again.

(Please Note: These are very rough, inaccurate definitions… and there are certainly exceptions to each. I just wanted to illustrate some key concepts in a simple way.)

Another important feature that differentiates the two is that backup data is usually much more critical than archival data.  (Once again, there are exceptions) That’s why backups need to be performed within the shortest possible window of time, and also retrieved quickly when needed.  The best way to accomplish this would be to maximize the amount of data that you archive… while minimizing the volume of data that needs to be backed up.

As you can see, online archiving and online backup are completely different, and not interchangeable at all. But they complement each other well, and knowing how to use both together can help you reduce your IT costs while improving the disaster recovery process for your organization.

This is a guest post from Patrick Jobin at StoragePipe Solutions, a provider of world-class corporate data protection solutions including online backup and recovery, electronic archiving and business continuity.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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  • http://www.a3communications.co.uk Federica Monsone

    Hey Chris, Thanks for writing up this blog. As I mentioned last week there is still a fairly widespread misconception of archiving and backup, whether online of not. It would be good to see some figures from analyst houses about how many end users archive and who they are. I bet that hardly any SMB does…

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  • http://www.drivehq.com/ Jacky

    Small businesses can backup files online, but why not store files online from the beginning?

    The cloud has become a lot more powerful with Cloud Storage and Cloud IT Solution 5.0. It is far more than just storage or backup. Not only you can backup files to the cloud, you can also move your entire file server, FTP server, email server, web server and backup system to the cloud. You can create sub-users and sub-groups; you can set different user roles; share different folders to different users with different permissions. For a small business, Cloud-based storage, backup, sharing and Cloud IT Solution can save you a lot of cost, while offering better, more secure and reliable services that can be accessed from anywhere.

    DriveHQ.com is one of the first few companies offering such cloud based services. It is now offering the version 5.0 Cloud Storage and Cloud IT Solution. For more info, please visit: http://www.drivehq.com/. DriveHQ basic service is free.

  • http://www.exchangemymail.com hosted exchange service

    I agree with Jacky. There is just so much development in the cloud right now that it doesn’t make sense why companies insist on a more cumbersome and expensive in-house storage, backup and everything else

  • http://www.databackupservices.com.au AUS-IP SecurVault

    I agree, cloud services are reducing the IT costs for both SMB’s and enterprise. Online Data Backup Services are just one of the awesome new services in the cloud.

  • Maarburg

    There’s an aspect here that might be overlooked.
    The DATA is the company.
    It is a very intellegent move to have your backup/archive at a secure remote facility, but to have ALL of your back/archive off site is a potential fault.

    Personally, I want my data in house. Don’t get me wrong, I utilize an offsite location for both my backup and archive, but if I need to do a full system restore, have the data on a NAS or SAN in house is going to keep my employeed much longer.
    (notice that I’m not pushing a product agenda)

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans


      I understand your point and I do the same thing too; I like the physical aspect of owning the data. Ultimately, over time, we have to move away from this though and get used to the idea of our data being elsewhere. Of course that means trust and whoever is holding the data demonstrating they are trustworthy.


  • http://www.timelinecloud.com pickles

    I wanted to backup my business data on the cloud but I didn’t trust the services that provided it especially after the failure in Carbonite’s servers and they lost all their customer’s data.

    Recently i stared to use Timeline Cloud; the backups are stored on Amazon S3 and they have disaster recovery for the system..

    Has any of you guys tried it?

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