Difference Between Backup and Replication

backup vs replication

Whether it be human errors or some hardware failures, let me tell you there exists a chance that your company might face data loss.

What comes along with data loss is productivity disruption, financial losses, and even the entire business failure.

So, keeping in mind the unforeseen events that can arise in the future, it’s of utmost importance that you prepare beforehand for data loss.

There are several plans of action that an organization can implement to prevent data loss. Backup and replication are some of the common practices applied for data protection.

While in most instances they are used interchangeably, in reality, they are quite different. 

In this blog, we’ll be exploring in detail about backup and replication. In addition to that, we will also be finding out the difference between backup and replication.

This will help you in deciding whether you need backup or replication for leveling up your data protection game. 

Backup and Its Importance 

Backup is the process that involves the creation of periodic copies of data to safeguard against data loss due to reasons such as human errors, hardware failures, or other unforeseen events.

The copies created in the backup can be stored in diverse locations that include secondary sites, external devices, and cloud platforms.

When an organization becomes a victim of data loss, there are several consequences it has to face.

From failure to continue its operation to even closure of business, data loss can have quite a huge impact on business.

To ensure smooth recovery of data in case of data loss, an organization must have backup in operation.

Let’s have a look at why backup is important : 

1. Data Security:

One of the primary reasons to choose backup for your organization is for data security. Implementation of encryption in backup can provide your valuable data with additional levels of security.

This helps to restrict unauthorized access to view or manipulate the data.

2. Data Management: 

In the event of data loss due to unforeseen events, recovering data and resuming operation takes significant time and effort.

Using a correct data backup program and procedure helps in minimizing the recovery time. A reliable and efficient backup system helps to recover data frequently and efficiently.

3. Cost Advantage:

Data loss has a significant financial implication for an organization. Recovering data in the event of a loss can involve huge investments.

In addition, data loss might cause potential revenue loss. With a reliable backup system in place, organizations can mitigate financial loss associated with data loss.

Replication and Its Importance 

Replication is the process that involves creating and storing redundant real time or near real time copies of data in one or more sites or systems.

The replication process is primarily designed to ensure high availability, fault tolerance, and seamless failover of data.

The primary goal of data replication is to make sure that data remains consistent and available during the event of a disaster or any uncertain events.

A well-managed replication system ensures business continuity through up-to-date and consistent availability of business-critical data. 

Now let’s find out why is replication important for your organization: 

1. Business continuity: 

What matters most in case of events such as natural or human-induced disasters is business continuity. Replication involves the creation of redundant copies across multiple sites or systems.

This helps in seamlessly switching to a replicated system in the event of failure or unavailability of the primary system.

2. Disaster Recovery: 

Replication is one of the key components of disaster recovery.

As replication helps to maintain synchronized copies in geographically dispersed locations, organizations can quickly recover data from multiple locations in case disaster hits a place and ensure the continuity of business. 

3. Reduction of Data Latency:

The presence of copies of data in multiple locations helps to minimize the data access latency. Along with that replication involves real time or near real time synchronization of data between systems.

This makes the replicated copies up-to-date and reduces the time lag between changes made between primary and corresponding replicated data.

Backup vs Replication 

Moving ahead it’s now time to find out the difference between backup and replication. So, here are the aspects in which backup and replication differ from each other. 

1. Purpose:

The primary purpose of backup is to create copies of business-critical data so that it does not get lost and can be restored in case of data loss or system failures.

In contrast, the purpose of replication is to maintain real time or near real time copies of data for immediate availability ensuring continuity in operations.

2. Timing: 

Backup is usually performed at scheduled intervals, this means organizations set specific time intervals for the backup process. It involves creating point-in-time copies.

Replication on the other hand involves continuous or near real time duplication of data. This helps in the preparation and availability of more up-to-date copies of data in the event of data loss.

3. Restoration Period:

In the case of backup, restoration takes time as data needs to be reconstructed from off-site locations or other mediums.

Restoration in backup involves a multi-step process. The first step involves locating the backup, then transferring the data, and finally restoring it.

As data is up-to-date, there is no need for reconstruction so data is immediately available and also usable after replication.

Restoration through replication only involves redirecting traffic to the replicated copy minimizing the downtime.

4. Recovery Objectives: 

Duplication has longer recovery objectives as it only aims to recover in the event of data loss due to factors such as system failures or human errors.

The ultimate purpose of backup is to store and recover data in the event of loss even if it takes longer time.

When it comes to replication, the recovery objective is reduced to as minimum as possible. This is because replication aims for quick failover and minimal downtime.

Replication is designed for higher availability and recovery of data as it has a role in ensuring business continuity.

5. Storage Location:

Replication involves selecting a secondary location. In replication, an organization needs to maintain copies of data on separate servers or locations usually off-site data centers for instant availability. 

There is flexibility when choosing a storage location for Backup. Backed-up data can be stored in physical media, on-premises, off-site, or in the cloud. 

6. Resources: 

Backup requires fewer computing resources. Backup process is slower and performed at scheduled intervals. So backup processes can be initiated during off-peak hours.

Replication involves continuous data transfer to maintain real time or near real time copies of data. This requires more computing resources as well as bandwidth during peak operations.

Choosing Between Backup and Replication 

After going through the backup, replication, and the difference between backup and replication, you might be thinking about which one is suitable for your organization.

While backup and replication both are important for preventing data loss, the need might depend upon the needs of the organization.

So, here are a few things to consider to choose between backup and replication: 

1. Recovery Objective: 

The first thing to consider when you think of choosing between backup and replication for your organization is the recovery objective.

If your primary goal is to recover data from specific points in time and have flexibility in recovery time objectives (RTO), a backup setup can match your needs.

In other cases if your organization aims to minimize the downtime and achieve near-instantaneous failover, keeping in mind the high-availability scenarios, replication best suits it.

2. Data Granularity: 

Depending upon your organization the recovery options might be different.

If your organization requires granular recovery options such as restoration of individual files, databases, or application components then backup provides more flexibility in this case.

However, replication involves duplicating the entire system. So, in case your organization requires recovering an entire IT system or application after disruption then replication can be a better option.

In addition replication also offers file based replication which offers combined benefits of both backup and replication overcoming shortcomings of traditional backup.

3. System Criticality: 

Backup is best suited in the case of organizations that do not have sensitive recovery time. As restoration of data from backup takes time, it’s for organizations with higher Recovery Time Objectives (RTO).

However, with Backup as a Service (BaaS) from a reliable BaaS service provider such as DataHub can help you minimize the Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) too. 

In contrast, if your organization has data that is business critical and there is a need for continuous availability of data for operation, Replication is more suitable.

Replication is best suitable for mission-critical systems to minimize downtime.

4. Availability of Network Infrastructure and Resources: 

Availability of network infrastructure and resources is another crucial aspect to consider while figuring out whether your organization needs backup or replication.

In case your organization has limited network resources then backup is more suitable as it has lower bandwidth requirements.

In case your organization has a robust and reliable network infrastructure for real time or synchronous replication, replication will best serve your needs. 


Both backup and replication are key components that play crucial roles in the prevention as well as recovery of data in the event of data loss.

Having a reliable and robust backup and replication system in your organization can help you secure as well as continue your business operation without any disturbance.

Despite being used interchangeably most of the time, there are several differences between backup and replication.

The answer to the question of whether your organization needs backup or replication depends upon several factors such as recovery objectives and availability of network infrastructures and resources.

What’s equally important in deciding whether your organization needs backup or replication is choosing the right service provider that offers these services.

Look no further than DataHub, one of the leading and most trusted Data Center and Cloud Service providers for all of your data backup as well as replication needs. 

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