Data backup is more important than ever before. As so many businesses, organizations, and individuals have incorporated data into their daily lives, the need to protect it – both from data loss and from the prying eyes of would-be hackers – is paramount.
But with so many different backup options available in the 21st century, it can be difficult to determine exactly what method is right for you and your system. There are pros and cons associated with each one, as expected, but some are much better suited for different scenarios and applications than others.
- Incremental backup: The incremental backup is one of the most efficient backup methods available. In this scenario, you’ll need to create a full backup to begin with. However, instead of creating full backups in the future, you’ll simply need to backup any new or modified files and folders that have changed since the last backup of any kind. As you might expect, these subsequent backups are much quicker than having to perform a full backup every single time – especially if nothing much has changed.
- Differential backup: Similar to the incremental backup, the differential backup varies in the fact that it archives any file or folder that has changed since the last full backup. If you start with an incremental backup and then switch to differential, you’ll still need to archive any data that has changed since the initial full backup was performed. While this is certainly more efficient than some of the other backup methods, it ultimately results in an ever-increasing data backup footprint. Depending on the size of your backup disk, you might not be able to accommodate a backup that has been inflated in this way.
- Mirror backup: As the name implies, the mirror backup replicates the original drive as best as possible. While it’s similar to a full backup, the biggest difference is that a mirror backup will delete files from the backup once they’ve been removed from the original drive. If a file or folder is accidentally deleted, and then a mirror backup is performed, the data might be lost for good.
- Full backup: The full backup is probably the easiest for most users to understand – but it’s often a slow and tedious process that renders your entire system unusable until the backup is complete. Just as the name suggest, a full backup is just that – a full and comprehensive backup of the source drive. Both incremental and differential backups utilize full backups when they’re first used – it provides the foundation needed in order for the more advanced methods to function properly. However, depending on your exact needs, it’s probably not necessary to perform a full system backup every single time you need to archive your data.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different backup methods, you’ll be able to make the right decision regarding your backup strategy. The only question that remains is whether or not you’ll use a USB thumb drive, an external hard drive, cloud-based storage, or removable media to store your backup files.