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What's the Difference between Differential and Incremental Backups?

Posted on Oct 18, 2017 by Jean to Backup Utility

Summary:
What is the difference between differential backup and incremental backup? This article introduces the difference and benefits between these two. EaseUS Todo Backup supports differential backup, incremental backup, full backup and smart backup on Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Both differential and incremental backups are "smart" backups that save time and disk space by only backing up changed files. But they differ significantly in how they do it, and how useful the result is.

Most of the information on a computer changes very slowly or not at all. This includes the applications themselves, the Operating System and even most of the user data. Typically, only a small percentage of the information in a partition or disk changes on a daily, or even a weekly, basis. For that reason, it makes sense only to back up the data that has changed on a daily basis. This is the basis of sophisticated backup strategies.

What is differential backup?

Differential backups were the next step in the evolution of backup strategies. A differential backup backs up only the files that changed since the last full back. For example, suppose you do a full backup on Sunday. On Monday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, on Tuesday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, and so on until the next full backup. Differential backups are quicker than full backups because so much less data is being backed up. But the amount of data being backed up grows with each differential backup until the next full back up. Differential backups are more flexible than full backups, but still unwieldy to do more than about once a day, especially as the next full backup approaches.

What is incremental backup?

Incremental backups also back up only the changed data, but they only back up the data that has changed since the last backup -- be it a full or incremental backup. They are sometimes called "differential incremental backups," while differential backups are sometimes called "cumulative incremental backups." Confused yet? Don't be.

If you do an incremental backup on Tuesday, you only back up the data that changed since the incremental backup on Monday. The result is a much smaller, faster backup. The characteristic of incremental backups is the shorter the time interval between backups, the fewer data to be backed up.

Incremental/differential backup software

Compare with full backup, incremental backup takes less backup time and produces smaller image file. And compare with differential backup, incremental backup will save your space better. That's the main reason why most people choose to make incremental backup.

How to make use of incremental/differential backup to protect PC? We strongly recommend incremental/differential backup software - EaseUS Todo Backup to help you gain the best backup and restore solution.

Incremental backup software - EaseUS Todo Backup