Backup, archiving and long-term storage: What is the difference?

News from the ITS System Services division

Do you know the difference?


Backup (ITS service DBR), archiving (ETH BIB/Library “digital data preservation” service) and long-term storage (ITS Service LTS) are not quite identical. Our customers sometimes find it difficult to differentiate.

Some people mistakenly think backup has the same function as archiving and archiving is often confused with long-term storage. This is technically incorrect.

  • Backup is used to protect active data in order to enable restore in case of loss or failure.
  • Archiving is subject to legal regulations or in the case of ETH, good scientific practice and allows use of data by third parties. Data is archived according to specific rules and remains readable for years.
  • Long-term storage is used to store files which have not been or will not be used for a long time. These files are stored on a cost-effective medium. In general, the files do not need additional backup.

Cost effective and efficient storage

You will find a detailed discussion on these topics by the company Crossroads on our LTS services page (PDF).

ITS System Services are specialists for ETH data management and are happy to answer questions from ITS customers. Data acquired from the ETH core process “research” must be handled carefully and deserves our full attention.

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