In this digital age that we live and work in, data is the lifeblood of any company. You want and need to be certain your data is protected with some data backup method, and understanding the five different methods available to you is the first step in deciding which is right for your business.

Full Backup

This is what you would glean from the name. It’s a complete copy of your data set. This type of backup is obviously the most comprehensive and therefore the best, but it is only realistic to perform on a periodic basis (typically quarterly).

Incremental Backup

In this form of backup, only the data that has changed since the most previous backup is saved. Although this method of backing up is faster and less onerous than a full backup, there is a downside: if you need to restore totally, it can be a time-consuming process.

Differential Backup

This is very similar to an incremental save. The important distinction is that the differential backup saves any data that has changed since the last full backup. The advantage of this over the incremental save is that the time needed to restore is decreased when compared with the incremental save.

Incremental-Forever Backup

This method uses disk-to-disk-to-tape backup systems. This enables the process of restoring the incremental data to become completely transparent and mirrors the process of restoring a full backup.

Synthetic Full Backup

In this format, the process involves making a full backup, which is then followed by a series of incremental backups. A synthetic backup is distinguished from (and superior to) an incremental backup because the backup server actually produces full backups. This is accomplished by combining the existing full backup with the data from the incremental backups. The result is a full backup that is identical to a full backup that has been created in the traditional fashion.

The primary factor in deciding which method of backup to use can be summarized by the question: How much time are you allowed for recovery should that step become necessary?