In a previous post we talked about the Grandfather-Father-Son backup strategy, in which you set up a backup cycle daily, weekly and monthly. These consist of full, incremental and differential backups. Today we are going to be taking a closer look and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Just to recap, a full backup is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a backup of a complete data set. Full backups give companies the best protection, but unfortunately it usually isn’t feasible to run a full backup too often as it can take up a lot of storage capacity and it can also be time consuming. If a company doesn’t have the resources to run a full backup often it’s a good idea to utilise other types of backup in your backup plans.
Incremental backups only backup data that has changed since the previous full backup. The advantages to incremental backups are that they save time and storage space on a day-to-day basis.
The main disadvantage of incremental backups is that when you need to restore from an incremental backup it can take a little more time as you have to restore the full backup and then every incremental backup up to the point that you need to restore from. If any backup doesn’t work in this process then you could run into issues further down the line, so it is important to ensure that all backups are running smoothly.
A differential backup is very similar to an incremental backup. You have to start with a full backup and then the differential backup only tracks the changes made to data, rather than doing a full backup every day. The difference between incremental and differential backups is that differential backups track all of the changes from the last full backup, rather than the last backup of any kind.
The main advantage of differential backups over incremental backups is the restore time. Restoring from a differential backup essentially skips a couple of steps and allows for a faster restore time, which is ideal in a disaster recovery situation in which time to get back online is critical.
However, differential backups are not always the best option when it comes to daily backups. This will be heavily dependant on resources again as differential backups can take up more storage space as time goes by.
Which backup type should you use?
The backup type can vary from customer to customer as they may have different requirements. For example, if your customer has the resources to perform differential backups and you have a low SLA time, this may be the best option despite it taking more resources compared to incremental backups. There are a lot of things to factor in for each customer, so it is worth making a plan in advance to ensure that both you and your customers have everything in place to run smoothly.
Of course here at Vitanium we are happy to work with our partners to find the best options for your customers, so feel free to contact us for any backup advice!