When looking for the most effective backup solution, people are often confused by the terms ‘Full backup’ and ‘incremental backup’ which often stay unexplained on the developers’ websites. So I feel it my duty to explain this difference as best as I can for you to no longer feel confused or misguided by the “pro's language".
Let's start with full backup (FB). FB means to copy data files from one location to another in full. That is every single file and folder in the specified location is overwritten in full upon each backup session. FB copies data with no regard to file changes that may take place in-between backups. FB is bigger in size, takes longer to perform, but in easier to recover than IB.
Incremental backup (IB) copies only the new and changed files of the selected data. Normally IB is preceded by FB. When FB is done, the backup software copies only the new and changed files that have accumulated in-between backups. However, IB does not copy the files that have changed earlier than the previous backup. Because increments are not overwritten, each increment is responsible for copying changes within a certain period of time. When doing data recovery, the backup software must take into account the first FB, as well as each increment that followed. If one or more increments are missing, the recovery may be problematic.
When applied to specific user needs, both backup types have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with the advantages and disadvantages of FB. The major advantage of FB is that you can recover it much quicker than IB. However, a serious drawback of the FB is that it takes longer to record and occupies more space on the selected storage medium. Some professionals believe that FB is generally more secure than IB, because it's just one file, and there is no data separation.
IB is easier to do because it only records the new and changed information, so it's smaller than FB and it is easier to store. However, to make sure your IB is restorable; you need to keep all the increments that have been created. While, with FB you only need to keep one backup file. Another advantage of IB is that you can keep track of the file changes that take place in-between backups with the ability to restore the needed file versions. Read more about incremental backup and its uses!
Alexander Golishev is a copywriter for Novosoft LLC , software developer, with a great deal of expertise in data backup and recovery matters.