Backup or Archive?

When you consider using the cloud for data storage there is a meaningful distinction between backing up data and archiving data that can help you determine the type of cloud storage that will work best for you.

Everyone understands the importance of backing up their data.  After all, backups are all that stand between having your data and losing it due to mistakes, hardware failures and acts of nature.   Your backup method might be a simple utility program or a full-featured application designed to backup data files to tape or image disk partitions to a local disk drive.

When you make data backups you should be aware of the 3-2-1 Backup Principle, which states that you need to make 3 copies of your data; store 2 of the copies on different storage devices and keep 1 copy off-site.  Sounds like good advice and a MonadCloud storage cluster can help you implement the 3-2-1 Backup Principle.  How?  By default a MonadCloud cluster writes 3 copies of your backup data.  If your logical cluster resides in two different locations, then 2 copies can be in one location and the third copy can be in the other location, which would be physically remote to the other 2 copies.

One problem with data backups is they tend to become progressively less useful over time due to changes being made to your data.  One solution to the problem is to implement a backup media rotation scheme to reduce the amount of backup media required, while providing the desired retention time for your data.

Another problem with data backups is managing the backup media so that you have what you think will be needed on your premises.  People expect to use their backups when they encounter a problem like a missing file, so having the right backup available to restore is important.    To help you here, MonadCloud’s storage clusters support a number of backup software products,  including: Arcserve, Ctera, CommVault, CloudBerry Lab, PHD Virtual and Veeam.

Archiving data is different than backing up data because archiving means keeping data around for a long time.  Archiving is used to retain your data for specific periods of time or “forever” in certain cases.   For example, archiving financial records for five-to- seven years is typical for organizations that file tax returns.  However, patient diagnostic data and test results may need to be archived by healthcare organizations for the lifetime of the patient.

Within an organization, internal data governance policies and outside regulatory requirements may dictate categories of data, like emails, accounting data, project data and employee records be retained for specific periods of time.  Archived data will usually not be updated, but it may need to be referenced some time in the future, so it must be stored in a very durable manner.

The problem with archiving data is the amount of effort and expense required to select, store and retrieve the data.  Fortunately, there is “information lifecycle management” or “enterprise data management” software available to help you do this in a policy-driven, automated manner.

MonadCloud's storage clusters function as storage for your data backups, as well as any “unstructured” data that you don’t want to keep on your primary data storage systems. MonadCloud’s storage clusters can function as the “target” for your backup software, including software designed to image or “snapshot” your virtual and physical servers.

MonadCloud’s storage clusters are also suitable for archival purposes and meet the cost, performance and durability requirements for storing archive data.  Your archived data can be reliably stored on MonadCloud’s storage clusters for long-term retention and rapid access.

Depending on your requirements, MonadCloud’s storage clusters can also tier your archive data to AWS S3 or Glacier or any S3-compatible storage service that is remote to your MonadCloud cluster.  The difference between backup and archive is a distinction worth remembering.