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Backup or archive, what’s the difference and why is it so important for Microsoft 365 environments? These questions keep coming up because these terms are used so interchangeably. Knowing and understanding the difference is mission-critical when it comes to aligning your data storage methodology and goals.

So, let’s get started, first here are definitions for both and easy ways to think about them:


Archiving or “Putting it on Ice”

According to Techopedia, data archiving is the long-term process of storing and retaining data. Data that’s archived often isn’t currently in use, but it can be restored in the future as needed. For example, your organization probably keeps an active archive of dated email interchanges handy in case of organizational shifts, changes in personnel, or fresh legal matters.

It’s a lot like putting your not-so-relevant data on ice in case it becomes relevant later.

Calling for Backup

Data backup on the other hand is defined as the process of duplicating data for retrieval in case of a data loss event. Backing up data makes a second set of all your files (current and dated) so you can restore them later in the event of a natural disaster or cyber-attack.

Everyone needs a backup, that’s especially true for any organization because of the value of data. After all, in recent years data’s worth surpassed that of oil.

Here are the major differences between archive and backup that you need to understand:

1. Preservation isn’t recovery


Archiving and backing up data have very different purposes and capabilities. The most important distinction is that archiving is dedicated to long-term data preservation and retention while backup is all about recovery in the event of an emergency.

Archiving preserves the files you want to keep on hand while backing up protects your business so you can restore everything.

2. The access levels are different.


Because they serve different technical functions, backup and archive applications offer different levels of user access. Archives are built to put those individual files like word documents, databases and email messages on ice so they’re easy to locate later. When files are archived their metadata is also, making it easy to find that email Bob sent you about best practices two years after his retirement party. Archives aren’t meant to be used for a total recovery.

Meanwhile, backup data is generally there for backup in case you need a large-scale recovery later. Backup applications are used for data objects and individual files, but they’re intended for significant recovery efforts—recovering files, systems and applications.

3. Disaster recovery is key.


You’re probably noticing a trend when it comes to what makes backup so different—it’s all about preparing for disaster recovery. That’s because backup is integral to Disaster Recovery (DR). When you’re backing information up, you’re protecting that data offsite—usually on the Cloud—in case of a disaster.

Archiving maintains your archive system, but it won’t save your data in the event of an emergency.

And that’s important to remember because the number of annual ransomware attacks doubled this year. These attacks have been costing businesses and even local city governments millions to retrieve stolen data from hackers or rebuild their systems.

That’s where Microsoft 365 environments come in when talking data backup and protection.

Why backup is so important for Microsoft 365?

Over 3 million businesses are added to Microsoft office every month and to Microsoft’s credit, Microsoft 365 comes with a vast array of best-in-class solutions. However, a comprehensive backup of your data isn’t one of them. You can save your organization thousands (or millions) of dollars by investing in additional layers as part of your Microsoft 365 strategy. Having the right backup approach can protect your data from security threats, accidental deletion, and policy gaps. Backing up your Microsoft 365 environment also makes quickly restoring individual items or entire applications simple with recovery flexibility.


Make sure you can recover your files.

Don’t wait for a catastrophe. Whether you’re using Microsoft 365 already or making the move, MicroAge is here to help. Contact your Account Executive, call 800-544-8877, or email our Solutions desk to get started.

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