Data Backup Types: Full, Incremental & Differential Backup

A 2019 Statista research shows the types of data that enterprises secure using data backups throughout the world.

Approximately 91% of those polled said they utilize data backup to secure their company’s databases, whereas just 16% said they use data backups to preserve their SaaS data.

According to another research,  by 2023, there will be 70% more businesses relying completely on cloud-based solutions.

It is not a great surprise considering that cloud backups provide a variety of benefits, such as price and accessibility.

What Is a Data Backup?

Copying data from a main to a secondary place in order to secure it in the event of a catastrophe, an accident, or malicious activity is known as data backup.

Modern enterprises rely heavily on data, and losing such data can seriously harm and interfere with daily operations.

Because of this, data backups are essential for all organizations, big and small.

There are three fundamental forms of data backup: full backup, incremental backup, and differential backup.

Data backup software companies have also created additional backup types that users might not be as familiar with in case anyone felt like they didn’t have enough alternatives.

While the primary three data backup techniques are the ones that are most frequently used, synthetic and incremental backups also have certain benefits.

These two choices go further than their predecessors in terms of incremental backup modifications.

What is a Full Backup?

A full backup is a complete copy of the whole data collection, as the name suggests.

Full backups may offer the highest security, but because they take time and sometimes utilize a lot of disk or storage space, most firms don’t use them regularly.

Other data backup types are frequently required since not every company has the time or storage capacity for regular complete data backups.

Full backups are often performed only once a week as part of a larger data backup strategy.

A complete data backup may occasionally be performed after a significant alteration to the data on the disk, such as an operating system upgrade or program installation.

On a computer, the majority of the data changes either extremely slowly or not at all.

This includes the operating system, the apps themselves, and even the majority of user data.

Usually, just a tiny portion of the data on a partition or disk is updated daily or even monthly.

It makes sense to just data backup the data that has changed on a daily basis because of this. The foundation for complex data backup plans is this.

What is a Differential Backup?

The development of data backup techniques continued with differential backups. Only the files that have changed since the last full backup are backed up in a differential backup.

Consider performing a complete backup on Sunday. Only the files that have changed since Sunday are backed up on Monday, only the files that have changed since Tuesday, and so on until the following complete data backup.

Due to the significantly reduced amount of data backup, differential backups are quicker than full data backups. But until the subsequent full backup, the quantity of data backup increases with each differential backup.

Problems with a Differential Backup

The amount of data backup increases with each differential backup until the next complete backup.

Even while differential backups are more adaptable than full data backups, they are still too cumbersome to run more frequently than once per day, especially as the time for the next complete data backup draws near.

What is Incremental backups?

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The introduction of incremental backups was made possible by the need to use less storage space and perform data backups more quickly.

Only the data that has changed since the last backup is included in incremental backups.

For Example:

Let’s say someone utilized incremental backups for the remainder of the week after doing a complete backup on Monday.

Only the data that has changed since Monday would be included in the data backup that is scheduled for Tuesday.

So only the data that has changed since Tuesday would be present in Wednesday’s data backup files, and so on.

1. Synthetic full backup

A variant of an incremental backup is a synthetic full backup. The backup strategy entails creating a complete data backup first, then a series of incremental backups just like any other incremental backup.

However, synthetic backups go a step further.

The data backup server really creates full backups, which distinguishes a synthetic backup from an incremental backup.

It accomplishes this by fusing the data from the incremental backups with the data from the current full backup.

2. Incremental-forever backup

Disk-to-disk-to-tape backup systems frequently employ incremental-forever data backups.

The fundamental concept is that an incremental-forever backup starts by creating a full backup of the data set, just like an incremental backup does.

Only incremental backups are made beyond that time.

The availability of data distinguishes an incremental-forever backup from a regular incremental backup.

As people may remember, they need the media to hold both the complete backup and each successive backup of the backup one wishes to restore in order to restore an incremental backup.

Cloud Backup: Differential vs. Incremental

It should be easy and smooth to back up data to the cloud. Therefore, because cloud backup often requires fewer resources, incremental backups are generally preferable in the cloud.

Also smaller than differential backups are incremental backups. The smaller the data backup, the better, because cloud storage space costs a lot.

For cloud backups, incremental-forever is an additional viable choice. Just keep in mind that one needs all of the data backups in the backup chain for restoration, whether the backup strategy is incremental backup or incremental-forever.

Which Backup Kind Suits Businesses the Best?

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The appropriate data backup option for your organization’s data backup and restore requirements should be selected given the wide variety of data backup options available.

Every firm and industry has a distinct ideal data security strategy, so there are varied objectives and criteria for data backups.


Businesses store all their data on cloud servers. That’s why data backups for organizations are a very important aspect of smoothly running a business.

Which type of data backup is different from organization to organization is not specified.

Exabytes provides fully resilient, secure, and highly available managed cloud services with Acronis cloud backup.

To find out more, contact us now.

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