Differential vs incremental?

By macx ยท 5 replies
Sep 1, 2016
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  1. I've read numerous explanations of those terms and still am not clear.

    Is there one of those that, during backup, only changes to the parts of the files are made or is the full file replaced with the latest version? Is there any major advantage to one or the other? Not looking for anything
    complicated, just want to update the backup for any file I've changed and add any new ones.

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    Both require a baseline FULL BACKUP and that will have a timestamp, like all files.
    • Incremental: creates backup files of changes since the last one was taken
    • differential: creates a file of changes since the FULL backup
    The difference is easily seen when attempting a restore:
    • the incremental requires, in the correct sequence, the FULL, plus each and every incremental
    • the differential requires ONLY the FULL plus the last differential.
  3. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    To narrow that down a bit, does differential create NEW files of changes, and if so does it replace the older update, or does it update the changes WITHIN those backed up files

    Sounds like differential would be the easiest to use if a full restoration would be necessary?

    If WD can't get their WD Backup software to work (and which is it, differential or incremental?) what is a good alternative?
    Some time ago I tried Cobian backup, but only used it one time. I see now there are numerous backup apps available. Free is of course preferred, and something that's setup so it's easy to use.

  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    There's no updating of the backup files . . . that would severely impact the restore choices. Sometimes we need a backup to a specific date, even though there may be several other and newer ones available. Regardless of which type of backup you elect to create, each backup taken will have its own file with a unique timestamp.
    Don't have that software, but many such systems allow the user to CHOOSE the type of backup.
  5. melbincresto

    melbincresto Banned

    Incremental Backup captures only the changes made since the last incremental backup. Saves both time and storage space, and ensures that your backup is up to date.

    • Pros: Fast backups, low storage space
    • Cons: Slower recovery, risk of data loss
    Differential Backup captures only the changes made since the last full backup, not since the last differential backup. This requires more storage space, but ensures an easier, more reliable restore. Many organizations struggle with incremental vs. differential backup solutions.

    • Pros: Fast backups, low storage space
    • Cons: Slower recovery
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    Psst: recovery is always slow :grin:
    Matthew likes this.

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