Understanding Backup Types

When planning you’re backup routine it’s worth understanding the different types of backups that are available.

A system image is an exact copy of an entire drive or partition, including all installed programs and system files. If you need to reinstall Windows, you can boot from the image file and avoid having to reinstall all your programs and reconfigure your Windows settings. Note that you can’t use an image to restore your system on a different PC and it is recommended to create a system recovery disc to aid in restoration .

System images are very large and take a long time to create, so you won’t want to make one every day. We suggest creating a system image backup when you get your system up and running for the first time and then again whenever you make major changes to your system.

For everyday backups, you’ll only want to copy the most important data on your PC – your documents, photos and music, for example.

There are several types of regular backups, below are the four most popular:

  • Full Backup – As the name implies, a full backup is when every single file and folder in the system is backed up. A full backup takes longer and requires more space than other types of backups but the process of restoring lost data from backup is much faster.
  • Incremental Backup – With incremental backup, only the initial backup is a full one. Subsequent backups only stores changes that were made since the previous backup. The process of restoring lost data from backup is longer but the backup process is much quicker.
  • Differential Backup – Differential backup is similar to incremental backup. With both, the initial backup is full and subsequent backups only store changes made to files since the last backup.  Since this is a copy of the data that has changed or been added since the last full backup, this type of backup requires more storage space than incremental backup does, however, but it also allows for a faster restore time.
  • Mirror Backup – A mirror backup, as the name implies, is when an exact copy is made of the source data. The advantage of mirror backup as opposed to full, incremental, or differential backups, is that you’re not storing old, obsolete files. When obsolete files are deleted, they disappear from the mirror backup as well when the system backs up. The downside to mirror backup is that if files are accidentally deleted, they can be lost from the backup is well if the deletion isn’t discovered before the next scheduled backup.

Each differential backup will be larger than the last, but to restore your system you’ll only need the full backup and the latest differential one. Incremental backup files are smaller, but to restore your system you’ll need your full backup as well as all subsequent incremental ones, which takes longer.

If you are uncertain about the type of backup you should choose, please schedule a consult so we can review your needs and help you come up with a backup routine.

See Also:
New Data Center Locations Available for Backup Clients
BYOB – Bring Your Own Backup (Software)

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Understanding Backup Types
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