Differential and Incremental backups are called “Intelligent” backups. Because only a small percentage of information on a computer changes on a daily basis, running a full-sized backup every day can result in wasted time and disk space. Differential and Incremental backups allow you to backup only these changes in different ways; saving time, space and money. Keep reading to learn more about Differential and Incremental backups and why you should care about them.
Editor’s Note: Most backup companies recommend a full backup weekly as part of an overall backup/data-integrity plan. Additionally, Full backups are recommended if there are major changes to a system (e.g. a change in Operating Systems, an update in software or new software installation).
Differential backups: Differential backups are based on the last full backup performed and backup all changes since the last Full backup was performed.
Incremental backups: Incremental backups are based on the last backup performed and backup only the changes since that last backup (Full or Differential).
Incremental and Differential backups were both designed to allow you to backup only files that have changed, although they differ on which files are selected. Incremental backups will back up any changes you have made since your last backup (regardless of type), whereas Differential backs up all of the changes since your last Full backup.
As part of your overall backup strategy, the option to select an Incremental backup a or Differential backup can help manage your data storage and backup job speed. For more detailed information relating to how Differential or Incremental backups differ, please see our FAQ: The differences between a Full, Incremental, or Differential backup
Selecting the Right Backup Policy
Choosing the right setup for your backup policy will depend on your space, time, and the level of data protection desired. For more information on PC backup, view post on understanding your PC backup software needs.