About Backup Archiving
A backup is a copy of data that can be used to restore the original in the event that your data is lost or damaged. If a company experiences data loss due to hardware failure, human error or natural disaster, a backup can be used to quickly restore that data.
An archive is a collection of historical records that are kept for long-term retention and used for future reference. Typically, archives contain data that is not actively used.
Basically, a backup is a copy of a set of data, while an archive holds original data that has been removed from its original location. Backing up and archiving data have distinct functions, and not recognizing that it’s important to have both can lead to access problems and even legal troubles.
Examples of backups include a nightly backup of all files on your laptop or desktop, or all your photos on your iPhone being copied to iCloud in case you drop your phone. We also backup file servers (unstructured data) and databases (structured data). A backup might focus on the data, as in a database dump, the operating system of the server as in a bare-metal backup, or on both as with backup of VMware .VMDK files.
Where the purpose of a backup is to put something back to how it looked (usually) yesterday, an archive can serve multiple purposes. The most common purpose is to help you find some data from a long time ago. It could be single file that had a really important item in it, such as a contract a customer signed several years ago. It might be a related group of data, such as all the structural drawings of the building that just collapsed. Or it might be all the CAD drawings of the widget your company used to make that went out of style but is now back in style.