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Using a backup program to create archive files isn't a good idea, because trying to find specific information in backups is costly and time consuming.
A bottle of grape juice left on a shelf long enough will ferment, but no one would call it wine. Similarly, it's possible to restore data from old backups, but no one should call them archives. Simply put, backups make lousy archives.
Archives are for the logical retrieval of information; that is, to retrieve information grouped in a logical way. For example, with archives you can store reference data such as:
- The CAD drawings, parts lists and other manufacturing information for a widget your company used to make
- All of the information pertaining to a former customer
- All information related to a closed project, account, law case, etc.
- Tax returns, financial records or other records for a particular year
The second way archives manifest themselves is in the logical storage of active
- All e-mails from employee A to employees B, C and D for the last year
- All e-mails and instant messages from all traders to all customers for the last three years that contain the words "promise," "guarantee," "vow," "assure" or "warranty"
- All e-mails that left a company going to domains X, Y and Z, or to certain specific e-mail addresses
This was first published in September 2006