Data Backup Types Explained: Full, Incremental, Differential and more

A backup is a copy of any kind of data, created as a replacement for situations when the original is lost or corrupted due to things like hard disk failure, accidental deletion, theft, flood, virus infection, etc.
Data loss can be caused by many things, so you need to protect your business dataData backup and data recovery are important parts of running a business.

Full Backup:

A complete backup of everything you want to backup. All of the files and folders everything that needs to be backed up. If the full backup method is chosen as a default, the files and folders will be backed up again entirely. However, in most cases, full backups are setup periodically like weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

Differential Backup:            

The backup software looks at which files have changed since you last did a full backup. Then creates copies of all the files that are different from the ones in the full backup.

If you do a differential backup more than once, it will copy all the files, or parts of files that have changed since the last full backup, even if you already have identical copies of those files in a previous differential backup.

For restoring all the data, you will only need the the last full backup, and the last differential backup.

For example, suppose you do a full backup on Sunday. On Monday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, on Tuesday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, and so on until the next full backup.

Incremental Backup:

The backup software creates copies of all the files, or parts of files that have changed since previous backups of any type (full, differential or incremental).

For example if you did a full backup on Sunday. An incremental backup made on Monday, would only contain files changed since Sunday, and an incremental backup on Tuesday, would only contain files changed since Monday, and so on.

For example if you did a full backup on Sunday. An incremental backup made on Monday, would only contain files changed since Sunday, and an incremental backup on Tuesday, would only contain files changed since Monday, and so on.

Importance of Backup

Your data is valuable. It will cost you time and effort re-create it, and that costs money or at least personal grief and tears; sometimes it can’t even be re-created, e.g., if it is the results of some experiments. Since it is an investment, you should protect it and take steps to avoid losing it.

There are basically four reasons why you might lose data: hardware failures, software bugs, human action, or natural disasters. Although modern hardware tends to be quite reliable, it can still break seemingly spontaneously. The most critical piece of hardware for storing data is the hard disk, which relies on tiny magnetic fields remaining intact in a world filled with electromagnetic noise. Modern software doesn’t even tend to be reliable; a rock solid program is an exception, not a rule. Humans are quite unreliable, they will either make a mistake, or they will be malicious and destroy data on purpose. Nature might not be evil, but it can wreak havoc even when being good. All in all, it is a small miracle that anything works at all.

There are a lot of reasons to back up your personal data. And it’s a good idea to do it in more than one place. If you’re looking for easy access to your files when you don’t have an internet connection, you can store data in a removable device like an external hard drive. If you’re looking for online backup, having a cloud storage strategy can be an effective solution.

What Data Backup Type to Choose?

When deciding which type of backup strategy to use the question is not what type of backup to use, but when to use each, and how these options should be combined with testing to meet the overall business cost, performance and availability goals.

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