A recent study has shown that almost 20% of people never backup their personal or business information with data stored on computers and external hard drives susceptible to corruption and accidental deletion as well as being lost due to hardware failure are one in five of us taking liberties with the security of our information?

The answer, of course, is yes and this mindset will ultimately lead to the irreversible loss of information for users, so we are taking a look at the definitions of an incremental backup and a differential backup of data as well as the pros and cons of both of these methods of securing your data to ensure that you are not one of the 20% that may lose everything.

What is an Incremental backup?

An incremental backup of data is a method of storing your data where only a copy of all the information that has been changed since the last backup is backed up. An incremental backup can be run whether the last backup was a full or incremental backup and only the data changed since that last full or incremental backup will be added to the new backup file.

What are the pros and cons of using incremental backup software?

One of the biggest benefits about creating an incremental backup to secure your data is that as only the data that has changed since your last full or incremental backup is backed up fewer files are backed up in comparison to running a full or differential backup ensuring that your information is backed up and secure takes much less time to complete than any other form of backup. In addition to this, as there is less to data to secure and less time is consumed there is less chance of issues occurring during the process, such as hardware failure or data loss due to connection issues, therefore making an incremental backup the more secure method.

The biggest ‘con’ of using incremental backup software is that due to the nature of this type of backup when a restore of the data is needed to be actioned both the last full backup that was completed and all subsequent incremental backups will need to be loaded to restore the data to its most up-to-date form. This causes the timeframe for the restoration process to be extended and, inversely to the backup process, may cause further issues due to the length of time taken to complete this action.

What is a Differential backup?

A differential backup is similar to an incremental backup but it differs by saving all of the data changed since the last full backup only. Unlike incremental backups, which will save any changes done from previous incremental backups, differential backups will always ‘look at’ the last full backup before seeing what has been changed since then and save all of these changes.

What are the pros and cons of using differential backup software?

The main pros and cons of saving data using differential backup software are almost exactly opposite of that provided by incremental backup software. The ‘pro’ for this form of backup is that that when it comes time to restore data the process is quicker and easier – and therefore less likely to be beset with problems – than from an incremental backup as only the last full backup and the last differential backup need to be used to restore the information fully.

The disadvantage of this form of backup is that not only are redundant versions of the data created but when these are overwritten or discarded the size of the latest differential backup increases and may cause the file to become unwieldy and slow when needed to be used as part of the restoration process.

What backup software should I choose?

Of course the choice of whether to use incremental or differential backups alongside full backups depends on a number of factors, including the amount of storage space for backups that is available, the amount of time that is feasible to run backups and the level of data protection desired.

Ultimately, both of these information security methods have their pros and cons (as mentioned previously) and we can recommend both of these options for saving your data. Many pieces of software that allow the creation of incremental and differential backups offers the ability to do both via the same software, such as the Iperius Backup Software (https://www.iperiusbackup.net/en/backup-types-with-iperius-full-incremental-differential/), so no matter if you wish to choose one of the two methods or both of them to secure your personal or business data then this can be done simply and in a straightforward fashion.

(Italian, Portuguese (Brazil))

Incremental backup software vs differential backup software, pros and cons
Iperius Backup C.

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  1. Brian Bouchard

    I have been running Incremental, but wish to begin Differential. I need to understand the possibilities that are available to me.
    1. Have the FULL BACK up on the same Flash Drive as the Differential.
    2. Have the FULL BACK up on different Flash Drive as the Differential.
    3. If I’m running a Differential and load an EMPTY flash drive, WHAT will be backed-Up?
    4. My Incremental Back-Up drive was Encrypted by a virus last week, since I keep it
    Loaded on my lap-top.

    1. Iperius Backup Team

      Different flash drives are used by Iperius independently. If a full backup is not present it is created.
      Differential backup always contains the differences from the full one. The incremental instead the differences since the previous one.

  2. Jhon Herrera

    Hi Iperius Team,
    I am backing up some vms from esxi host, we do a full backup with incremental backup mode but when we launch a second time this same job, this take more time to complete respect to the first and initial full backup.
    Why ? this second one take more time, is not suppose to take a minimum time because no significant change was made to the machines.

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PLEASE NOTE: if you need technical support or have any sales or technical question, don't use comments. Instead open a TICKET here: https://support.iperius.net