The difference between backup and archiving: Ep 15, HealthcareTalks

Medical Technology, Healthcare & Government IT


One of the mistakes that, uh, a lot of, uh, managers are making these days is that they’re assuming that backups of data and archiving of data are the same thing. And that would be like saying that, uh, if I properly made copies of my paper records, but uh, then I stashed them away wherever I wanted to instead of a records room or something like that, that that would be okay. And of course, we know that it’s not. So there’s a big difference between backups and archiving because backups are designed so that if your system goes down, you can immediately get access to it tomorrow. Um, and it’s gotta be quick. It’s gotta be something that can be brought back very, very quickly.

Archiving is a compliance and records management problem. So whereas backup is a technical issue, compliance and records management says do you, in the state of Massachusetts, manage all your data for a lifetime like it’s required here or in other states, or like in some states, is it required for five years or seven years? So retention of data, compliance with, uh, how long you can — how long you’re going to keep and able to keep data is, uh, an archiving problem. So backups are done to store and retrieve quickly in terms of, uh, system loss, disaster recovery, et cetera.

Archiving, you may need to keep something for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or a lifetime, and so the formats and the way that you store records in an archive — for example, using a format like PDF-A, which is designed to be kept forever, that format will never change, and there’s a standard body that makes sure that that’s done is how you should manage archives. So there’s a lot of people who mistake archiving and backup, and they say, “Well, I’m going to store all my records in PDF-A, and then hopefully when my system goes down, I can restore from PDF-A.”

Of course, that sounds silly, and — because it is, but so it’s really important to recognize backup is a systems problem designed to be managed by software people. Archiving is also a system problem, but it’s more of a records management and compliance issue, and they need to be treated very differently with the right technology with the right approach and the right processes as well.

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