Cloud Archive vs. Cloud Backup

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, August 28th 2013 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Hybrid Cloud, Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, Disaster Recovery

By now, you’re probably using some form of cloud storage. People generally think about storing their current files in the cloud to access remotely or collaborate with others. Whether it’s Dropbox or Google Drive for personal use or logging into your company server for work, storing files remotely is becoming more commonplace everyday.

However, storing older files in the cloud is also wise. Many enterprises use a form of cloud backup, or Backup as a Service in some cases. Others may need to archive old data for compliance standards or other reasons.  The cloud can help these companies remain flexible as they store data, adding resources as necessary; as well as meet compliance, easily manage data, and avoid in-house expenditure. Cloud backup and cloud archiving are very similar—after all, they both store files in the cloud to access later if something goes awry—but they have several key differences.

Similarities Between Archive and Backup
Both cloud backup and cloud archiving are forms of cloud storage. Users and administrators can choose from individual files up to entire systems to keep in the cloud. The storage is generally reserved space in a data center with an attached virtual machine to run the related applications. It can be Pay As You Go or reserved (with PAYG, customers pay only for the resources they currently use on a month-to-month basis; with reserved, a certain amount of resources are set aside and must be paid for in advance).

In both cases, files are stored in case they need to be accessed later; these are not files that are being used everyday. Both can take advantage of deduplication to ensure only newly modified data is transferred and stored, saving network use and storage space. And finally, both should include a variety of customization tools include scheduling file transfers.

Cloud Backup
A simple way to define a backup is a constant transfer of files. Cloud backup software is usually designed to only copy files that have been updated, but they are transferred to the backup site at a constant rate, or set to backup at regular intervals. Backups may also keep different versions of the files in case of corruption.

Backup plans generally include a plan for restoration with defined points in time, so companies can quickly restore systems or data if necessary. Because the initial transfer of data is immense, it can be performed by sending physical media to and from the data center.

Essential files, databases and applications are usually backed up. This is data that must be accessed at any given moment.

Cloud Archiving
A cloud archive is basically just the initial transfer of data that happens from cloud backup, and not the incremental changes thereafter. Companies might archive older data they don’t expect to access frequently, like e-mails or old documents. These files will not change and can exist as a single archived copy. Generally they are not business critical files and the transfer speed is not as vital.

Enterprises might turn to cloud archive solutions in order to free up valuable resources as files accumulate and drag down the system.

Cloud archive and cloud backup are similar concepts and often use overlapping technologies. Although they differ largely in the execution and file type transferred, the terms are not interchangeable. Both uses, however, are vital for organizations with large amounts of data.

Whether you need to archive large amounts of old data that you don’t anticipate accessing frequently, or want to backup critical files to restore in the case of emergency, the cloud offers a secure and flexible way to store information without expensive hardware provisioning.

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz