Backup vs. Replication: Which One to Choose

Tracy King updated on Sep 22, 2022 to Knowledge Center

Data management has been introduced at many levels. From managing data across logs and papers, the world has transitioned to computerized systems. This led to the introduction of techniques such as data backups and data replication. As these tend to allow companies to segregate all information cohesively, there is a certain difference that holds a clear line between these terminologies. For this, the article will be focused on providing an overview of backup vs. replication.

What is Data Backup?

Data Backup is defined as the task involving copying data from a primary location or storage site to a secondary target location. A backup becomes helpful in protecting your important data in the event of data loss, file corruption, or other disasters. A system backup can include various file types such as documents, multimedia, operating systems, configurations, registries, and more.

Creating a data backup is an important process that involves several essential tools and options. A complete data backup can be achieved in multiple ways, depending on your requirements. Data backup can take any form, including storage on removable media, redundant systems, external hard drives, hardware appliances, backup software, and cloud backup services.

One of the most reliable and adequate methods for data backup is the 3-2-1 strategy. It is an easy-to-remember yet effective method that ensures the integrity and well-being of your data. The 3-2-1 strategy involves the following components:

  • 3 Copies of Data: This includes your original files and two additional copies.
  • 2 Different Storage Media: Choose multiple drives, removable disks, or cloud storage services to back up your data.
  • 1 Copy Off-Site: Making an off-site copy of your data reduces the risk of severe disasters.

What is Data Replication?

Data Replication is the practice of storing and copying data in multiple sites or locations, which can be in real-time or a one-time occurrence. Depending on your requirements, you can replicate your data regularly to enhance its availability and accessibility while also ensuring the consistency and integrity of the system.

Data replication involves taking data from a host or publisher to a receiving database or node known as the subscriber. A significant advantage of data replication is the increased reliability in case disaster strikes. The process can also significantly improve your server and network performances.

Like other processes, there are multiple ways to carry out data replication. Following are some of the major types of data replication commonly used:

1. Transactional Replication: This involves real-time data copying from the host to the receiving end of the spectrum. The subscriber receives the full version of the initial data, and any changes made later in the data can be updated in correct orders, thus ensuring transactional consistency.

2. Snapshot Replication: In situations where changes in data occur rarely, snapshot replication is used. This type of replication does not allow for real-time updates in the data and only distributes data as it is recorded at a specific time.

3. Merge Replication: When data from two or more receiving databases are combined, it is called Merge replication. In this type of replication, both hosts and subscribers can individually alter the database.

Backup vs. Replication: Which is better?

Now that you have a brief overview of data backup and replication, it is time to probe deeper into backup vs. replication. Several distinguishing factors set the two processes apart from each other. While data backup is like a snapshot in time, replication is a continuous process that ensures immediate maintenance and resumption in case of an outage.

  Data Backup Data Replication
Requirements Data backup requires storage media such as a hard drive, virtual tape library, or web-based services. Data replication requires infrastructure, tools, staff, and business processes to facilitate the operation.
Used For Backups are ideal for creating permanent, long-term archives of data. Replication is ideal for operations that are continuously running or mission-critical.
Data Updates Backups often act as snapshots, so data may not be updated regularly. Replication is a real-time process of copying data, so updates are more frequent and regular.
Data Security Backups are more secure as they create individual copies of data. Replication involves sharing data throughout the system, thus making the system susceptible to malware or other attacks.
Recovery Time Recovering data from a backup can be a long and time-consuming process. Recovering data from a replication only involves a few minutes.
Cost Backups usually cost less because no additional resources or infrastructure is required. Replication is costly compared to backup due to the investment and maintenance of the receiving database.

Final Verdict

Data backups and replication are entirely different processes with their respective strengths and weaknesses. We have discovered several provisional differences with a clear backup vs. replication overview. While backups are cost-friendly and more secure, replication is quicker and provides real-time data copying. Depending on your requirements, you can choose either of the two for a reliable way to copy your data in case of an unprecedented event.

Backup vs. Replication FAQs

After developing a deep understanding of data backup vs. replication, you can now easily differentiate between the two. Here are some frequently asked questions about the two processes to further clarify your understanding.

1. Why is replication not a backup?

Replication involves continuous copying of data to receiving databases. On the other hand, backups occur at specific points in time. Any alterations in the data can be promptly detected in backups as a component of their schedules, but data and any changes in replication are copied in real-time. Hence, replication cannot be regarded as a data backup.

2. Why are backup and replication important?

Backing up or replicating your data serves significant advantages in case of file corruption, data loss, power failures, and other unfortunate scenarios where the security and integrity of your data are being compromised. If data stored in the original location is rendered inoperable, a backup or replication ensures that an up-to-date copy is still available.

3. How do backup and replication work?

Backups involve making copies of data from one location to another at a specific point in time. On the contrary, replication works by continuously syncing your data in real-time to multiple databases so that operations can be promptly restored in case of data corruption or outage.

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