Difference Between Backup and Recovery

The process of creating lots of data is common in all the small and large businesses around the world. It is estimated that data are doubled by some companies each year. The biggest challenge the companies have with this rapid growth of data is the reliable protection of data. Data should be protected from accidental deletions to natural disasters. Backup and recovery are two of the methods used for data protection and retention used by companies today.


Backup technology deals with making and keeping copies of data (files, databases, etc.) for protection against data loss due to human mistakes, system malfunction and natural disasters. Retrieval of backed up data is called restoring. Backing up is suitable for recovering large amounts of data in quick time. However, backup infrastructure needs to be extended very fast due to the rapid growth of data, giving headaches for the administrators. Today, both tapes and disks are used as mediums for backup, which makes it highly reliable. Typically, companies obtain nightly incremental and weekly full backups and keep the backups at least for three months. But, if backup systems are not used with proper data management software, it can become very inefficient and ineffective. If the company decides to keep the data for a longer period, the cost, time and number of personal dedicated for the backup system could increase very quickly. Personal computer users can backup using local backup systems or internet backup services.


Recovery (i.e. data recovery) is another method of data protection used today. But instead of prevention of data loss, recovery software deal with salvaging data that is already lost due to many reasons such as physical damage in storage devices, errors in logical file structure of the operating systems and accidental deletion of files. Most often, recovery is needed because of failures in the operating systems making it impossible to access the files on the same partition. This is typically done using a Live CD. Incase of accidental deletion, there are many undelete software that will recover the deleted files. This is highly used in forensic investigations to recover important files deleted by the criminals.

What is the difference between Backup and Recovery?

Backup and recovery systems are used for the protection and retention of data. Backup is used to keep copies of data for data protection purposes, while recovery is used for salvaging data that is already lost. In other words, backup can be considered a precautionary method (making and keeping copies of data in case they get lost), while recovery is a cure for already lost data. Even though, precaution is always better than cure, there are many occasions when recovery is needed simply because some users do not take enough time/effort for backing up their data on a regular basis. One advantage of backing up is that there is a guarantee that the data is secure, while it is difficult guarantee that the recovery will always work. Using backed up data in case of a data loss can be considered easier and quicker than recovering a lost file (which could be quite tedious depending on the situation). However recovery could be the only solution in extreme cases like when both the original and backed up data is lost.