Businesses rely on data for everything, from operations to marketing to human resources. So it’s no surprise that data loss can be a huge blow to a company and, in some cases, even lead to bankruptcy. That’s why it’s crucial for all organizations, especially small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), to have a data backup plan in place. But with all the different types of backups out there, it can be hard to determine which one is right for your business’s needs.
Here are the three most common types of backups and when you should use them.
As the name suggests, a full backup captures all of your data — every file, folder, and application — in one fell swoop. This is ideal if you have a lot of information or if you don’t want to spend the time and resources on more frequent backups. A full backup is also a good option if you haven’t ever backed up your data or if you’re overwriting an outdated copy of your files and apps.
The downside is that full backups can take a long time to run, which can tie up your system during business hours. And if you have to perform a full restoration, it can take just as long, meaning your business could be down for hours or days. Additionally, full backups can be more expensive to store than other types of backups.
An incremental backup only captures the data that has changed since the last backup, whether that’s the last full backup or the last incremental backup. So if you perform an incremental backup every day, you’ll only be backing up the data that has changed since the day before.
This type of backup is much less resource-intensive than a full backup, so it won’t impact your system as much. And since you’re only backing up new or changed data, incremental backups are usually faster, too. However, you need to have a full backup in place before you can start performing incremental backups. And if you need to restore all of your data, you’ll need all of the incremental backups that have been created since the last full backup.
A differential backup is similar to an incremental backup in that it only captures data that has changed since the last backup. The difference is that a differential backup creates a copy of all of the changes that have been made since the last full backup and not just the changes since the last differential or incremental backup. So, for instance, if you perform a full backup on Monday ,an incremental backup on Tuesday, and a differential backup on Wednesday, the differential backup would include all of the changes that have been made since Monday.
Like incremental backups, differential backups are less resource-intensive than full backups and can be completed more quickly. And, as with incremental backups, you’ll need to have a full backup in place before you can start using differential backups.
The major drawback of differential backups is that they can take up more storage space than other types of backups. After all, the scope of each differential backup grows larger until the next full backup is created. For that reason, differential backups are usually only used in conjunction with full backups and not as a standalone backup solution.
Related reading: How backups save you money
Different backup types are best used in tandem
The key to an effective backup strategy is to use a combination of different backup types. That way, you can take advantage of the benefits of each type while mitigating the drawbacks.
For instance, you could perform a full backup of your critical data once a week and incremental backups every day. Or, you could create a full backup once a month and a differential backup once a week. The best backup strategy for your SMB will depend on your specific needs and resources.
But no matter what type of backup you use, it’s important to make sure you're regularly backing up your data. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost irreplaceable data and have no way to get it back.
Kortek Solutions’ experts can help you build the perfect backup strategy for your SMB. Contact us today to get started.