Archived Files versus Backup Files?

February 11, 2019

Data archives and backups are two entirely different terms although they have constantly been used interchangeably throughout various industries. In this article, we will be differentiating the two types as well as citing examples to provide you with a better picture on what these terms actually mean.


When To Use the Term “Archive”?

The term archive often refers to a single piece or a collection of documents or records specifically stored for long-term storage and future use. These files are no longer used, and may have been deleted from your immediate access to preserve storage memory.

Archiving often comes along with the term: retrieval. When you retrieve a file, it may or may not be in the same server or made in the same format as what you are currently using. Retrievals are done through long intervals such as years or even decades.

To better understand the term, here are some common uses for archives:

• In terms of lawsuits and settlements, lawyers may sometimes ask archived emails as proof of documentation in order to win a case. More often than not, big companies would have a whole pile of emails safely tucked away in their servers for purposes like this.
•  Another example would be efficient archiving of birth records in a specific county. Through an efficient file archiving system, you would be able to access your birth certificate in no time.
•  Construction companies and architectural firms would definitely have archived copies of their plans and blueprints, even if a project has already been completed, having access to these files can be of good use if repairs need to be made or if designs want to be revisited.


An archive system is quite handy especially in big industries. These documents may not be as important, but eventually they will be put to use.


When To Use the Term “Backup”?

The term backup is used to refer to copy of a file that is used to restore an original file. Backups are being done every day and on routine. These files are intended for possible immediate use in the event of loss, theft, or damage. It is to safeguard your files while the original is in use.

The term can easily be understood through these examples:

•  Copying files photos and videos from your phone, or any mobile device onto a cloud or online data storage.
•  Setting aside copies of server files and databases in the event of a breach or disk failure while you are using the original documents.
•  Keeping a copy of files from your computer on an external hard drive, just in case your memory needs to be reformatted at any point.

The term restore is often associated with backups. Restoring files that were backed up would require you to know specific information in order to pinpoint the file you need.

Having an efficient backup system and a regular routine in backing up your files can save you a lot of time and stress. With a backup you will feel a lot more secure with your tasks knowing copies of your original file is readily available if something ever does happen.



Even though there are some similar points with regards to defining these two terms, they are very different from one another. Backups are copies made for immediate restoration in the event of any loss or damage, whereas archives are stored data that is no longer used actively. Furthermore, archiving cannot just be labeled as long-term backups. Having backup and archive filing system in place may be costly upfront but is definitely worth the money considering the efficiency of these tools.