Data archiving is an essential part of controlling and saving important files – usually historical and legal records. Users often confuse archiving with backup. Though both are similar, they are in fact different. This guide walks you through the differences and sheds light on some crucial benefits. Remember, when seeking out data archiving solutions, keep these important features in mind to ensure you implement the optimal system. Let’s first begin by breaking down data archiving fundamentally.

What Is Data Archiving?

Data archiving is when a company moves inactive files and information into a dedicated, separate storage server. These archived data files are typically older but also of high importance. Data archiving is used to store information that will be needed later on at some point. This information is clearly valuable but in a less imminent way. That is, it stands in the way, creating clutter, unless stored in some convenient server. Ultimately, it’s required to keep but accessed rarely.

An example of data archiving is a skydiving company makes everyone sign a digital waiver. Certainly these waivers wouldn’t need to be pulled up very often if at all, so they could archive them on a separate server. If however, a customer has a legal issue or is injured during a dive, the archive could be accessed to find their waiver. This not only preserves valuable documents, it also stores them out of the way so that company systems fire on all cylinders.

A picture of file cabinets in a large storage area.
Data archiving saves important information for later use.

How Is Data Archiving Different Than Backing up Data?

An archive of data is a place where we store information and records for future use. A data backup is where some information or records are duplicated or copied. A data backup doesn’t necessarily have to be moved to a new storage location. However, archived data is moved to a separate location. This ensures a company isn’t overwhelmed by data that doesn’t need to be at the forefront of daily transactions.

Here’s an example to illuminate the unique differences between backing up data or archiving it. If an art museum had ten paintings but could only fit eight on their walls, they could archive the unwanted paintings and save them for another time. This is similar to data archiving. Now imagine that same museum took those ten paintings and ordered replicas of each, hoping to preserve the look of the picture. This is similar to backing up data. Archiving moves the pictures elsewhere, while backups replicate the pictures.

A blurred picture of a museum.
Data archiving is similar to how a museum stores paintings.

What Kind of Data Is Typically Archived?

Some companies will need to have data like financial records archived for a long time. Others may need to archive emails, phone logs and other data types. These different case-uses show the wide range between importance of data archiving (financial records are likely much more valuable). Remember that the type of data stored is meant to be unused for a long time. Important financial records are archived only if they don’t need to be referenced periodically.

Legal compliance data is a common form of information in an enterprise’s data archive. Like financial records, this type of data deserves long term archive consideration, typically indefinite. The reason we archive legal data is due to the severity of losing or accidentally editing the piece. Therefore, it’s vital you store valuable data safely away to create clarity in daily workflows. Keep in mind that companies rarely reference a lot of different legal information.

A picture of two users accessing financial records on a computer.
Store things like financial records and legal information in alternative locations.

Other Considerations

The following are some concerns to consider when it comes to data archiving:

Storage Space

It’s important to note that archiving frees up space and takes it away at the same time. On the main server, drive space is freed up. However, wherever the archiving takes place fills up quickly. One thing that needs periodical evaluation is the storage space and limits of the servers used. The inevitable outcome of archiving data is exponential data growth over time. Make sure your systems are keeping pace.

Compatibility

The longer you archive data, the higher the chance you’ll have compatibility issues. Pay attention to the types of files moved to the archive, as those file extensions lose their validity in modern technological changes. Similar to storage space, implement scheduled checks and data reviews to solve compatibility issues.

Data archiving secures important information in an organized manner. Pay attention to your company’s archiving practices and make necessary changes whenever possible. You’ll free up a lot of extra space and work more efficiently.

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and Industry Expert | Canto

Casey is a content management and branding expert who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.