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Data Storage

Q: What is the difference between backing up and archiving?

A: Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two different things. A back up is an ongoing copy of work in progress, created so that vital information will not be lost in the event of a drive or other media failure. Backups are often created on a daily basis, and are stored on a separate storage device from the one that is used for day-to-day work on current projects.

An archive, on the other hand, is a copy of vital information that has been collected and prepared for long-term storage after the project has been finished. Typically information that has been archived will be removed from the “active” or day-to-day storage media that is used to work on current projects, and will be stored on other media that is (hopefully) stable for long periods of time. Common archive media choices include tape drives and optical media such as CDs or DVDs.

An archive is intended to allow you to go back and re-create a project, make changes long after the project has been finished, or to use parts of it for other purposes in the future, without having that data take up space if it’s not being accessed on a regular basis.

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