Storage, Backups and Archives – Part 1 of 2

The most common repair we deal with is a failed hard drive. At some point we have all lost some scrap of data (whether or not it is our own fault), and the first thing anyone in the “Tech Support” line of work asks (at least it should be) is “do you have a backup”. Now this may seem like a dumb question. Why would someone call a tech support company if they have a backup? Well, the answer to that question is very simple, you may have a backup and not known it, you may have a backup and not know what to do with it after a failure, or you may not have a backup at all and would like to know any options you may have.

Well the first part of this 2 part series is a brief discussion about the differences between the big three when it comes to data in the computer world. The big three are Storage, Backups and Archives.

As is common here at Tech90 we are going to highlight the differences between storage, backup and archival systems with an analogy:

Storage can be thought of as filing cabinet sitting next to the desk in your office. It is where you keep all your file folders. If you need to work on one of the files, you can simple reach in, pull it out, and go to work. These files are immediately accessible whenever you need them.

Backup can be thought of as having an additional filing cabinet sitting next to the storage filing cabinet in your office. Anytime you update or add a file in your storage filing cabinet, it will be immediately photocopied into your backup filing cabinet. This backup filing cabinet is in place in the event that something happened to your storage filing cabinet – a drawer gets stuck, or a file folder gets damaged. It provides an easily accessible, up to date source to restore information to your storage filing cabinet should the need arise.

Archive can be thought of as making a complete copy of your storage filing cabinet, and then shipping it off to a secure location where it will be safe. In the event that your office were to burn down and both your storage and backup file cabinets be destroyed, the archive would still be safe. In this way, it is a difficult to access filing cabinet but very safe due to its external location.

In this analogy, your storage filing cabinet can be thought of as all the data that is currently accessible on your computer. The backup filing cabinet is representative of a backup hard drive that connects directly to your computer or through your network and provides an up to date copy of the data on your computer. Archiving is equivalent of making a copy of your data and sending it to a separate location, where it will be safe in the event of a catastrophic loss of data from your computer and backup hard drives.