The utilization of backup vs. archiving software for databases is often confused in many organizations. Customers often use backup for the purposes of archiving and vice versa. A survey conducted by Symantec Software recently indicates that 70% of enterprises are misusing backup, recovery, and archiving practices. The survey shows that 70% of the enterprises use their backup software to implement legal holds and 25% preserve the entire backup set indefinitely. Also, the survey respondents said 45% of their backup storage is due to legal holds. Additionally, nearly half of the enterprises surveyed are improperly using their backup and recovery software for archiving.
So what are the differences between the two types of solutions? What should each be used for and how are they complementary?
Backups are used primarily for the purposes of database disaster recovery. Disaster recovery is usually done to restore the state of a particular data set before an event occurs or to restore a small amount of records or files that have been lost due to accidental deletion or corruption. A database backup typically creates a copy of the entire database periodically, and maintains incremental changes since the last backup. A backup process doesn’t remove data from the primary system for the purposes of managing data growth, improving system performance, or reducing maintenance cost. It should also not be used for the purposes of long term record retention, since backup solutions do not necessarily store the data in the most optimal format, manage the retention and disposition of records, nor facilitate access to the data for eDiscovery or audits.
Archives, on the other hand, should be used for longer term record retention and database archiving is the primary means for managing data growth in databases and enterprise applications. Database archiving solutions relocate data that are infrequently accessed in the production system, reducing the data size, to improve performance and to reduce hardware and maintenance costs. Some database archiving solutions also provide compression capabilities to reduce storage capacity and multiple methods to easily access to the archived data for reporting and audits. Retaining data in a central archive store also facilitates eDiscovery processes to reduce response times.
Organizations should implement the following best practices for database backup and archiving:
- Only backup your most current data that is frequently accessed
- Do not use backup as a means of retaining records for the long term or to support holding records for legal cases and audits
- Implement database archiving practices to reduce the data volumes of large production systems
- Use database archiving for long term records retention, legal hold and eDiscovery.
By using database archiving in conjunction with backup solutions, you can
- Improve production database performance
- Reduce database storage and server costs
- Reduce software license costs
- Reduce the effort required for database performance tuning and maintenance
- More cost-effectively retain structured data for compliance
- Reduce database backup windows by minimizing relevant data that needs to be backed up
- Reduce business outage due to database system unavailability during backup, upgrade, and recovery activities