Types of Data Backup | Adopt an Effective Backup Strategy

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You are a freelancer working on a project for many days, but accidentally your hard disk is crashed for a sudden power surge due to an untested power supply failure. Or, maybe you are a businessman, working on something worth millions of dollars and suddenly someone deliberately corrupts your data storage or your crucial data stored on a computer hard drive. Well, in this era of IT, the majority of people are aware of the life-saving data backup method. But still, these phenomena are faced by people of various professions and we know the sinking feeling in these circumstances. The dichotomy lies in the types of data backup perceived and the choice should be eclectic.

Different types of data backup are designed to provide different benefits, offering something for everyone and address different risks, vulnerabilities, and storage needs. You can backup your emails, documents, and files on Windows, using back upper media, hardware, or even cloud services at your disposal. You can also back up your system by doing the system restore and get protected from any harm. The selection of the proper kind of backup for particular situations and implementing an effective backup operation can be quite challenging.

Types of Data Backup Fi

Types of Data Backup Depending on Backup Strategy

Types of Data Backup Depending on Backup Strategy

1. Full Data Backup

It is pellucid from the name of this method, full data backup means backup for every selected file within the system in another location like a disk or tape. This is the most basic and comprehensive backup system of all which is followed with subsequent other backups.

Full data backup should be done at least once. They are performed on a periodical basis. If the system has a small amount of critical data, like in small organizations or projects, a full backup is run daily or even more often. The most recent backup file is required for the recovery of data here.

Full Data Backup


  • Full data backup is very easy to perform and maintain as the complete list of files is stored each time.
  • Though the backup process takes quite a lot of time, the restoring process takes minimal time in comparison.
  • A complete copy of all the files and folders is available at a single set of media.


  • The full data backup process execution takes a longer time compared to other types of backups as the entire list of files is copied each time.
  • Huge memory space is a prerequisite for this type of backup. External hard disks or cloud-based storage are mainly used.
  • All files designated for backup including unaltered files will be backed up again when it is performed more than once. So, the Storage of lots of duplicate files creates an overload of storage.

2. Incremental Backup

In incremental types of data backup, all subsequent changes made are backed up since the previous system backup of any type took place. The last backup can be a full data backup, a differential backup, or an incremental backup itself. This type of backup is performed to complement a full system backup. Incremental data backup can be performed as often as possible. Most recent full backup and all incremental backups since the last full backup is required for recovery.

For example, if a full backup is performed followed by an incremental backup, this will save changes from the full backup. Next time when the incremental backup is performed, it will copy the changes made from the first incremental backup. And when the third incremental backup is performed after that, only the changes made from the second incremental backup will be stored.

Incremental Backup


  • The incremental backup process is faster compared to others as it simply complements the initial full backup.
  • This requires lesser storage space and fewer resources.
  • It can be carried out as often as possible.
  • No duplicate files are stored in this backup.


  • The data restoring process takes pretty long to be carried out.
  • Data restoration is pretty complicated as the incremental data has to be stitched to previous iterations and the latest full backup data.

3. Differential Backup

Differential backup is pretty similar to incremental backup the first time it is performed where the changes made are stored after the first full backup was done in both types. But, each time it will be run after that, it will keep storing the changes since the last full backup, unlike incremental backup. The most recent full backup and the most recent differential backup media is required here for recovery.

For example, if a full backup is performed followed by a differential backup, this will save changes after the full backup. Next time when the differential backup is performed, it will copy the changes made from the first full backup, without considering the first differential backup.

Differential Backup


  • A differential backup restores the changed data to the same convenient location each time.
  • Data recovery time is faster compared to incremental backup.
  • Data restoration is easier than an incremental backup.


  • Data backup requires much time in this process as compared to incremental backup.
  • Larger storage space is required to perform the differential backup as it stores more backed up data.
  • Data recovery is slower and restoration is complicated than full backups.
  • Duplicate files are stored here.

4. Mirror Backup

In mirror backup, it mirrors the same source data set where only the latest data version is stored with no track of other versions. There is a major difference between mirror backup and full backup, which is, the mirror backup files will be automatically deleted when original files get deleted and if the deletion is not discovered before the next scheduled backup.

Mirror backup often involves disks and is typically more of an on-premises approach. Also, different backup software is found to support mirror backups. Many online backup services offer a mirror backup with a 30-day delete facility.

Mirror Backup


  • Fast data recovery is the major advantage of mirror backup operations.
  • It is very easy to reach individual backed up files.
  • Unlike other backup systems, in this system, the old and obsolete files are not stored making it cleaner. These obsolete files are removed from the backup as well during system backup.


  • Large storage space is required for mirror backup, leading to more maintenance needs.
  • This type of backup is quite risky as one has to be extremely cautious while changing original files. The mirror backups experience the same data corruption or deletion that occurred in the source data.

5. Full Computer or Full PC Backup

Full computer backup backs up entire images of your hard drive along with backing up the data files. That’s why It is also known as Drive image backups. Rather than copying individually selected files and folders, this creates a drive image which is like a snapshot of the original drive.

Other backup systems can only restore user’s documents, pictures, music, or videos but the software, OS, or other programs needs to be installed again. But in full computer backup, the OS, hardware drivers, system files, programs, registry, emails, and everything can be restored. In simple words, a Full computer back up helps to restore the crashed computer to its original state. 

Data can be stored in this system in a compressed or uncompressed form. Dedicated software installation and update when necessary is required to perform this type of backup.

Full Computer or Full PC Backup


  • A crashed PC can be restored in few moments without reinstalling the whole OS or other software.
  • It is a very reliable idea in case of a hard drive failure.


  • Even after a full restoration, any problems like a virus or misconfigured drivers present on the computer previously may still be present.
  • This may not work on a new computer with a different mainboard, display adapters, or CPU.

6. Mixed Backup

Mixed backup combines full, incremental, and differential backup as the name implies. Here, first, a full backup process is performed once, and then incremental or differential backups are performed periodically as scheduled. Mixed backup is adopted by large organizations with a huge database, where adopting full data backup frequently can be pyrrhic.

Mixed Backup

Types of Data Backup Depending on Storage Media Location

Types of Data Backup Depending on Storage Media Location

1. Local or On-site Backup

In the local backup, the storage source is in proximity to the source. Typically, the storage medium is close at hand plugged in, or connected through a Local Area Network to the PC. Internal or external hard drives, optical drives, solid-state drives, Network-attached storage, another computer over the network, magnetic tape drives, etc. can be used in this type of backup.


  • Local backup is quite helpful during virus attack, accidental deletion, deliberate employ sabotage, or hard drive failures.
  • This offers a fast and easy backup and restoration of lost files.
  • Storage and data transfer cost is cheaper compared to other types of backups.
  • Users have full internal control over the backup media and security of it.
  • Whenever data restoration is needed, the backup files can be accessed conveniently as they are stored in proximity.


  • This type of backup is not safe in case of data demolition during natural disasters like flood or fire or other human-made disasters. If the source gets damaged, the backup also gets damaged.

2. Offsite Backup

In an offsite data backup system, the data is stored at any geographic location away from the source, unlike the local backup. Initially, the data is backed up locally and then transferred to another location in this process.

For example, if the backup drive is taken away at home, at another branch, or a bank safe deposit box for safekeeping, the backup process becomes offsite. So, only when a backup protects against natural or human disasters unlike a local backup, it can be considered to be an offsite backup.

Offsite Backup


  • This system is very secure from natural disasters as the files are kept in a secure geographical location.


  • Extra diligence is needed to bring the backup media to an offsite location.
  • Maintenance and data transferring cost are more as it requires physical trips.
  • The possibility of damaging the delicate backup drive is more for increased handling.
  • Takes longer to restore data compared to local backup.

3. Online or Cloud Backup

Cloud is the most popular backup nowadays, a term used interchangeably with Online or Remote backup, where data is stored over the internet. Here the data is kept at a storage server or facility connected to the source via the internet. This allows you to access your data anytime, from any device and from any corner of the world which is the reason for the name, Cloud. All you need is an internet connection to restore data which requires less time.

This does not involve any human intervention. Usually, a client application is installed on the source computer where users can define the backup files and folders anytime. The data is sometimes compressed or encrypted before going on the internet for security purposes.  

Here the storage of backup is a commercial data center or offsite FTP server located away from the source. These centers are highly secured with CCTV and round the clock monitoring. The backup generators help to cope with the grid power outages. Also, they are temperature controlled to avoid any data damage. The backup data is replicated across several devices for redundancy. The alternate internet connections help to avoid any possible failure to bring the service down.

Cloud Backup


  • Online backup offers the best protection against natural calamities, making it the most reliable.
  • Risk of data damage for hardwire failure is very low as data is copied across several media.
  • A very little manual or human interaction is required here as everything is done online.
  • Backup and restoration can be done frequently without any complications from anywhere and anytime.
  • When the service is provided by a reliable commercial data center, the protection of data becomes un-paralleled.


  • The online backup may be expensive than a local backup system.
  • The restoration of files can be slower.
  • Online data backup is more prone to ransomware attacks.
  • The backup process can be quite slow depending on the internet connection speed and the backup data size.

Wrap Up

Having a backup source saves from an unwanted setback and it is a part of cyber-hygiene. Losing data accidentally is nothing out of the ordinary and data recovery in this situation can be accomplished via different types of data backup processes.

In this content, we summarized some common mistakes made, causes of data loss, how data backup works, and types of data backup. A full, incremental, and differential backup strategy is most common among all. Depending on Cost, performance, availability goals, and convenient storage location, the selection of a backup strategy should be done.

Typically, a backup operation refers to a full back up which is followed by an incremental or differential backup. For people living in areas more prone to natural disasters, offsite or cloud backup is best for them. So, you might start up on the cloud with a full backup and then shift to incremental as it requires fewer resources.

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