Backup or Replicate? What Does Your Business Need?

Backups and replication aren't the same thing.

Backups and replication aren’t the same thing. It’s only when you understand the difference can you determine if your business needs one, or both.


Backups copy data periodically. Typically performed once a day, but can be done more (or less) often. Backed up data/files are stored on a storage device that’s located either onsite such as a NAS, or offsite in a different location to your business, or can be stored in both. It’s inexpensive to perform and store backup data locally. And local backups are better suited for meeting compliance with government and industry regulations. But, local backups do not guarantee continuity of operations in the event of a disaster or system failure. It can take a while to set up a new system and restore your business data from the backed-up files.

Storing the backup files onsite only, is not ideal. If a disaster such as flood, fire, equipment failure, or theft strikes your business, the backup files could be lost forever.


Replication involves copying data to a secondary system, usually in an offsite location, often done in near real-time. The offsite secondary system is identical to the primary system. As soon as a change is made to the data on the primary system, it is permanently made to the data in the secondary system. This means there are no “in between” recovery points, which can create problems. For example, if ransomware attacks data on the primary system, that data will be copied to the offsite secondary one. It’s possible to combine replication with snapshot technology to create recovery points to roll back to.

Replication solutions are designed to ensure data is always available if there’s a system failure or disaster. But, setting up and maintaining a replication solution can be expensive. The secondary system needs to be identical to the primary.

What Should You Use?

Local backups and offsite replication address different risks. Backups ensure that a business can recover its data in case of system failures or disasters (disaster recovery), whilst replication ensures that data and applications are available if the primary system goes down (high availability).

Every business needs to be backing up its data regularly, and checking to ensure that data can be restored. If your business also needs the surety that critical data and applications are always available, then a replication solution might be required. If recovery points are created, the secondary system could serve as a backup mechanism for the critical data. At Intellect IT we can help you determine whether you need one or both solutions in your business.

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