Definition

incremental backup

An incremental backup is a type of backup that only copies files that have changed since the last backup.

If a full backup was done on Monday, Tuesday's incremental will back up all changed files since Monday's backup. However, Wednesday's incremental will only back up files that have changed since Tuesday's incremental backup.

The main advantage of incremental backups is that fewer files are backed up daily, allowing for shorter backup windows. The disadvantage is that during a complete restore, the latest full and all subsequent incremental backups must be restored, which can take significantly longer.

Here is a comparison of different backup operations

Type/Backup number

Full

Incremental

Differential

Backup 1

All data

--

--

Backup 2

All data

Changes from backup 1

Changes from backup 1

Backup 3

All data

Changes from backup 2

Changes from backup 1

Backup 4

All data

Changes from backup 3

Changes from backup 1

This was last updated in August 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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