Top 8 Backup and Recovery Software Tools

Veeam Backup & ReplicationCommvaultRubrikZertoCohesity DataProtectNakivoQuorum OnQDell EMC Avamar
  1. leader badge
    WAN Accelerator helps tremendously with replicating our data because we have a large chunk of data that gets replicated between our two facilities. They introduced a new feature called the Immutable Repository feature, which helps protect environments from malware attacks that target backup file extensions.
  2. leader badge
    What is most valuable to me are the search features, where you can search through large backup data sets and find what you're looking for. Our data sets are so big that we're over the petabyte mark. To find a specific file for a specific user out of 10,000 users is a challenge... If we can glean from them a general description of where it might be, the search feature comes in very handy to actually locate it and restore it for them.
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  4. leader badge
    When it comes to saving time managing our backups, Rubrik has saved us a lot of time compared to what we were using. It feels like it has saved us lifetimes of time because the process used to be difficult. It's not just the day to time savings. When something goes wrong, that's where the real time savings comes into play. We are able to get back to where we need to be more confidently and with much fewer steps.
  5. leader badge
    The return to operations is the most valuable feature because it decreases the amount of time it takes us to recover. The most valuable feature is the point in time recovery. This allows us to recover at any point in time, up to a minute or so.
  6. leader badge
    The system automatically takes down the nodes one at a time and performs the upgrade and brings the node back up before proceeding to the next. Upgrades can now be done at any time with a high level of confidence.
  7. I could install and configure the trial version in maybe half an hour and had a successful backup of our file server on the same night.We have found all the features of Nakivo to be useful and the solution is easier to use compared to Proxmox. It is user-friendly, we are very satisfied.
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  9. Quorum OnQ has taken the guesswork out of backup/recovery and disaster recovery. The most useful feature is the one-click recovery.
  10. We've found the product to be stable. Every product is good and bad, but its claim to fame is that it is scalable. We're doing more than 3,000 VMs. Every single night a complete image backup to disks and replication are easily done in under four hours.

Advice From The Community

Read answers to top Backup and Recovery Software questions. 523,535 professionals have gotten help from our community of experts.
Ivan Monnier
What is the best backup solution for a hybrid environment (VMware/AWS/GCP)?
author avatarChris Childerhose
Real User

If you are looking for a solution for a hybrid environment that covers the solutions mentioned then Veeam is the way to go. They cover both Hyper-V and VMware as well as all the cloud platforms with their appliances.

Yes there are other solutions and as mentioned ensure you understand what you are trying to achieve when it comes to backup and recovery.

author avatarVladanKojanic
Real User

We first need to define what a “next generation” backup is. Now everything is NG, because it is a trend that all new products are called this way. Then comes the question of what needs you have, what kind of backup you need. Is it an on-premise or a Cloud solution. Each of us can recommend one, which we use. Whichever one you choose to be modern, that is, to follow trends and develop, will do the job for you.

We, specifically for 5 years, have been using Commvault and we are very satisfied. First of all, it is complete, which enables all possible (and not possible) combinations, supports almost all HW vendors, as well as vendors that offer Cloud solutions. What attracted us is that it is innovative, that follows trends and quickly adapts to the market. And what we like the most is that we, as admins, from one place, from one console, can manage absolutely all processes in the backup system.

author avatarSimonClark
Real User

Everyone has recommended good reliable solutions, Rubrik, Veeam, Druva would be our top choices. You need to decide how quickly you need to get a solution deployed and running, how much you want to spend over the next 3-5 years, does your business have any reason not to be in the cloud, do you need to backup every Whirlpool location and endpoint or are the individual regions responsible for their own local data, how quickly and how often you need to upload and download, are you operating M365, do you have any relationship with AWS and perhaps you would like to buy a solution via AWS Marketplace? Druva and Veeam are both AWS vendor partners and use AWS infrastructure...

The list goes on

author avatarSteffen Hornung
Real User

Ok, since you want talk with us, here is my recommendation: Rubrik. Install it wherever you want, cloud, datacenter, edge, it is your choice. Enjoy the google search experience if you are looking for a file to retrieve. Dont know the market share but that is just statistics anyway and bound to be old news. 

As you are working for a pretty big company you may want to know that HomeDepot has deployed rubrik on over 2200 locations just in 3 days time. Preparation for that stunt with significant longer. But that is just how much you can do with automation on that product.
Will change your point-of-view on backup, for sure.

author avatarAlbeez
Real User

VEEAM backup is very good and  we are using it since 3 years 

author avatarJohnBowling
Real User

We are evaluating this very question.  The best solution to protect onPrem systems  as well as Cloud based systems.
For us, Cohesity appears to be edging out several of the other options. They have robust solutions for both onPrem (virtual & Physical) systems as well as Cloud (CloudSpin, DRaaS, DMaaS, etc.) 

But, as others have pointed out, there's a lot unknown within the question.  If you are protecting PaaS systems, there will likely be holes with any 3rd party tool.  So it may be a hybrid approach (depending on your full set of requirements...)

author avatarAli Mansouri
Real User

Veeam Backup and Replication

author avatarSimonClark
Real User

The recommendations have been spot on however, if your budget is very limited there are options we offer for cloud and on-premise backup which are significantly lower priced but as reliable and as feature rich as the brand leaders. Security is always a focus area and it is essential that any solution we offer has controls in place to prevent ransomware and or malicious deletion of critical back ups.

Ariel Lindenfeld
There's a lot of vendor hype about enterprise backup and recovery software. What's really important to look for in a solution? Let the community know what you think. Share your opinions now!
author avatarTomas-Dalebjörk (CGI)
Real User

There are several things to consider.

The abilities to have flexibilities to fulfill requirements

- Recovery Time Objectives (RTO, how to fulfill different requirements that the business has to restore data that meet the requirements of "how long time can the business live without the data")

- Recovery Point Objectives (RPO, how to fulfill different requirements that the business has about how much data to lose in case of different incidents)

- Backup Time Objectives (BTO, how efficient the solutions are to protect the data)

- Resource utilization (How cost-efficient the solutions are with the resources utilization), data reduction inline/post, progressive incremental forever with/without rebuilding base data

- Maintenance tasks on the solutions (data retention managements), protecting the solution, upgrading off/online, ..

- Support from vendor

- Price of the solution

- Limitation of licenses, gentlemen's agreement, or hard limits

- The ability to use different retention policies, exclude content, use different storages, extra copies etc...

- Security of the solution

Philosophy: Why backing up data again if the data has not been changed?

The fastest way to protect data is to not back it up (again)

Progressive incremental forever (Always incremental)

Philosophy: Why restore all data if you can restore only the data needed

Instant Recovery or restoring single objects

Integrating the backup process with applications such as PostgreSQL, Oracle etc, so that the archive logs / WAL logs, etc will be protected immediately when it is created will improve the RPO. This can be done using SPFS - a filesystem for Spectrum Protect

Taking application-consistent snapshots stored on Spectrum Protect storage using efficient data transfer (progressive block-level incremental forever), reduces the time to take backups, and saves resources on the backup server and the server protected. This can be done using SPFS - Instant Recovery for Spectrum Protect

Restoring only what is needed, can be performed by native backup software such as Spectrum Protect. Provisioning an application consistent snapshot to a server and accessing the data while the restoration is performed in the background can be done using SPIR - Instant Recovery for Spectrum Protect. This helps clients to access data directly to select the data that is needed to copy to the origin or use as production data directly.

author avatarRaul Garcia
Real User

They are several aspects;
1) The frequency with which you need the backup files, folders (files) and / or servers in question to be running. Since this frequency is in theory your closest and farthest recovery point at the same time.

Example 1: If you define that every four hours, in case of a problem you will be able to recover what you backed up four hours ago

2) The estimated size of what you need to back up vs. the time it takes to back it up
Example 2: If you are going to backup 300 GB every four hours and the process takes 8 hrs. (because your information is sent to a MDF - SITE mirror by an internet link or something) then you will not be able to back up every 4 hours, you will have to do it every 8 or 9 hrs.

Example 3: If you are going to backup 50 GB every four hours and the process takes 1 hrs. (because you send your information to an MDF - SITE mirror through an internet link or something) then you will not have problems when you have to make the next backup within 4 hours.

3) The applicant's ability to program (in sequence and / or in parallel) what you need to support

Example 4: Suppose that some files, folders (files) and / or servers need to be backed up every 4 hours. and others every 12 hrs. and others every 24 hours. and others maybe every week. In this case you have to estimate very well the worst scenario that is when the sum of what you are going to be supporting coincides and that slows the process, which implies that when the following programmed backups are activated they effectively run without setback.

4) The flexibility of the application for the execution of incremental or full backups

Example 5: In this case it is knowing what the application is going to do in case a backup fails. Does the incremental part that did not back up start again from scratch? Does it leave a process restart point, if so, how reliable is this process? Will it force you to make a FULL backup that will not take 4 hrs. and that it will take 24 hrs. or more? With what your programming will have to be re-standardized?

5) While it is true that the restoration is the most relevant, prior to this you must ensure that you have well supported what "budgets" should be supported.

In these aspects is what worked best for us.

author avatarIvo Dissel
Real User

The most important aspect is the time for the backup and restore to finish, and of course how easy it is to configure schedules, rules, policies, etc.

author avatarThang Le Toan (Victory Lee) (Robusta Technology & Training)
Real User

1. Data integrity
(e.g., fast recovery capability, scheduling backups of the most recent problem / high success rate recovery / ability to automatically check or open data to be restored for quick check support to identify define backup data that can restore well).

2. Data availability
(e.g. the ability to successfully back up in the backup window).

3. Integrate with the rest of the infrastructure
(e.g. automation, the ability to create scripts when backing up or restoring or syncing data).

4. Easy to use
(for example, an easy-to-find interface for necessary functions, arranging drivers in a process sequence).
5. Confidentiality, data encryption and data protection.
6. Ability to integrate standards The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Centralized data management, uniform data control, can access backed up data by Token, USB smart.

author avatarChrisKetel


author avatarRaul Garcia
Real User

Exactly, according to what is mentioned, I would add the order of priority that I would give them from my experience (and of course to your best consideration).

From the last Backup of the data you have until the moment you apply.

The contingency is your RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and after you apply the contingency and until you restore the data it is your RTO (Recovery Time Objectives).

It seems to me that it is more important to consider the RTO (Recovery Time Objectives) because it is always the longest in the process, if we saw it as a Critical Path the RTO this is your Critical Path.

author avatarChrisKetel

The most important thing is the speed and accuracy and flexibility of the recovery process.

author avatarPaulLemmons
Real User

It s really "Recovery" software, not "Backup" software. So it is the recovery features that are paramount.

Recovery considerations:
o What type of data do you need to easily recover:
- Single files from Vmware images
- Entire Vmware systems
- Needed OS Support: Windows, AIX, Linux
- Exchange: Database, single mailbox, single message
- SharePoint: Database or document or share
o Administration
- You don't want to have to have a dedicated "Backup administrator".
+ Should be a quiet, reliable, background operation
+ Avoid solutions that depend on Windows that has to be maintained and patched
+ Avoid solutions that require expensive skill sets such as UCS/VMWare/Linux/Windows/AIX etc
+ Upgrades should be painless and done by support not customer
- Hoopless recovery
+ Should be so simple the helpdesk could perform recoveries
+ Self serve sounds good and could be a plus but experience has shown me that they call the help desk anyway
- Self-monitoring
+ Space issues, problems, and such should alert
+ Success should be silent
+ Should not have to check on it every day
o Quick recovery
- Recovery operations usually happen with someone waiting and are usually an interruption to your real work.
- You want it to recover while you are watching so you can tell the customer it is done and get back to your real job

Backup Considerations
o System Resources
- Should be kind to network
+ Incremental backups based on changed blocks not changed files
+ Should automatically throttle itself
- Memory and CPU utilization
+ Backing up should be a background process that does not require much CPU or Memory on the host being backed up
+ Primarily this is for client-based backups
- VMWare considerations
+ If using Vmware snapshots consider the CPU and I/O oad on ESX servers... you may need more
o Replication
- if the backup host is local, a remote replica should be maintained at a remote location
- Replications should not monopolize WAN links
- Recovery should be easily accomplished from either location without jumping through hoops

Random thoughts
o It is OK to go with a new company as opposed to an established one
- Generally speaking, a backup/recovery solution has a capital life span of about 3 to 5 years
- Generally speaking, moving to a new backup solution is fairly straight forward
+ Start backing up to the new solution and let the old solution age out
- So. it is OK to look at non-incumbent solutions
o When replacing an "incumbent", vendors will often give deep discounts
o Don't feel like you are stuck if an upgrade path looks like you are having to buy a solution all over again
o Do a real POC. It does not really take that much time or effort... or shouldn't. If it does, it is not the right solution
o At the end of the day, if it successfully and reliably backs up and recovers your data, it is a working solution

What are the most important considerations when selecting backup and recovery software for your business, particularly for cloud-based solutions?  What tips can you share for making the process of selecting backup and recovery software easier?
author avatarSimonClark
Real User

Cloud based backup and storage is the way to proceed in most cases, thus avoiding hardware that needs to be located securely and needs regular updating and refreshing.The longer term cost of ownership will be less by using cloud backup.

Generally the following should be considered

1. How quickly would we need to recover our backup.

2. How often do we want to perform backups e.g. some companies will need their data backed up almost continuously and others will be happy with a daily backup.

3. Is it better to use a single vendor for everything i.e. backup, archive and storage or select multiple solutions.

4. How often should we be checking to ensure my backups are working - many companies don't check and get a bad surprise when they find none of their backups actually worked.

5. Can we have unlimited uploads and downloads and how granular do we need that to be and how much will that cost - some vendors have expensive limits on uploads and downloads and some offer unlimited access.

6. Have we de-duplicated our data and will the backup solution do that for us. Otherwise are we paying to backup multiples of the same data. How do we deduplicate if our backup vendor doesn't do it for us

7. Has our backup solution got sufficient security controls i.e. is the data encrypted, locked and has it been scanned for ransomware? Does the backup solution do that for us or do we have to purchase more tools.

8. A common misnomer is that enterprises believe their data is secure because they are using 'The Cloud' i.e. M365, AWS, Azure, GCP - Note:  Cloud providers are responsible for their infrastructure, you are responsible for your data - A separate backup provider and strategy is essential.

9. Do we have the right people internally to manage our backup strategy, how much time will it take them and what happens if they are not available. It is worth finding a vendor which will automate as much of your backup as possible. This will also save you money over time too.

There are a small number of excellent vendors with competitive commercials that can do all of the above providing their customers with peace of mind. If they have a disaster they can be rapidly back to a secure working system. Choose a provider that meets your critical needs and budget.

author avatarMahdiBahmani
Real User

On the one hand, A backup solution is part of a bigger one which is named Disaster recovery and business continuity. The importance of BC and DR is depended on company size. If we categorized companies into three segments small, medium, and large companies, we can offer which solution fits each of them.

On the other hand, we have third platform data centers, which are defined with Cloud, BigData, Social Media, and mobile devices. Nowadays a massive amount of data is creating from different heterogeneous sources. now our backup solution must be compatible with new requirements.

All backup solutions offer many features, but there is a major difference between an enterprise backup solution and a small backup solution. That is the quality of performance of each part of the software.

Enterprise software solutions provide more stability, resiliency, stability and are integrated for BC & DR, of course, they are not simple to use for everyone, while small backup solutions are medium-quality software with maximum simplicity to engage newcomers IT admins.

That is why we can see a lot of simple programs which are not scalable.

for example, the Veem backup solution is very simple, easy to use, and suitable in many small businesses, but when you want to use some advanced features such as SAN Based Backup, Backup replication in two or more sites, Backup staging, Cloud integration, or data protection in a heterogeneous environment, your challenges are beginning with these kinds of software. They would have become much more complex compared to Enterprise software, such as Veritas NetBackup.

author avatarreviewer1352379 (Systems Engineer specializing in Data Protection at a government with 201-500 employees)
Real User

SimonClark did an awesome job of outlining considerations that should be considered.

1. Reporting - useful daily reports are critical to me.  I look for a traffic light kind of report that covers all jobs and assets across multiple days.  I want to be able to quickly digest the most recent backups - and see if there is a pattern of a problem, so I can take action quickly if needed.

2. Conciseness of use.  I want to be able to intuitively be able to use the solution.  Backup or restore, what, when, etc.  If I need a 400+ manual to use the product, then something is wrong with the product.  It should just make sense and flow easily.

3. Vendor engagement across multiple levels.  With the sales process, I want/expect to get answers quickly = particularly regarding the capabilities and what I am looking for.  With support, I expect a fast initial response, and continued good communication.  And, finally, I expect the development team of the vendor to care and ask for what features, capabilities, and improvements are important to me.

Why should businesses prioritize having a disaster recovery solution?  Do you have some real life examples of cases where disaster recovery was not in place, and what the ramifications were to the business? And vice-versa - what are some examples of cases where disaster recovery proved vital and mitigated loss?
author avatarJohannFLEURY
Real User

I’ve been working for big agro-company and multi-site for our different kinds of production. We put in place a BCP first to identify, in terms of revenues, which site were critical from that weren’t and construct our BCP accordingly. The BCP consisted on defining all actors and services mandatory to ensure production and delivery of our products (supply chain, ordering, delivering, third part and of course IT associated). We found out that before putting BCP in place some of our factories would have been totally unproductive for more than 3 weeks in case of major incidents. 
so then after identifying all needed components, we came for some from 3 weeks outage to 4 hours.

We had a very good commitment from our third-party suppliers too while coming to the analysis—and helped some to understand as well their own gap in the case of the same.

So in the end, it was a win-win deal and today we do have clear visibility on all the chains needed to continue the most possible our business.

And of course, i could be hired to help in putting in place such process (no matter it is IBM SP or any other tool, this is just a small part of the journey of BCP)

author avatarShrijendra Shakya

I am in the business of Disaster Recovery and have been providing DRAAS with one of the renowned vendor equipment. I have come across quite a few cases where there had been many cases here in Nepal where ransomware attacks happen and all the data is encrypted of some reputed corporate houses. It had a lot of business impacts.

Although they had some traditional backup mechanisms, the backup system copied all the ransomware files too so we devised new recovery mechanisms and help the client restore some files too.

Additionally, we implemented and designed a new system and the client is contempt and everything is fine.

author avatarZied Chelbi
Real User

disaster recovery plan (DPR) is a set of “action to be taken before during and after a disaster”, and is made to help protect businesses in such an event. Although disasters may not always be avoidable, having a plan helps to reduce the potential damage and quickly restore operations.

Disaster recovery plans and the preventative measures they include are essential for stopping disasters from occurring in the first place. Organizations can’t always avoid disasters, but having a plan helps to minimize the potential damage and get operations back up and running quickly

here an example of a real case :

>>> A DDoS attack:

In this disaster recovery scenario, imagine that a group of malicious hackers executes a Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack against your company. The DDoS attack focuses on overwhelming your network with illegitimate requests so that legitimate data cannot get through.

As a result, your business can no longer connect to databases that it accesses via the network – which, in today’s age of cloud-native everything, means most databases. It’s rare nowadays to have a database that does not require a working network connection to do its job.

In this scenario, disaster recovery means being able to restore data availability even as the DDoS attack is underway. (Ending the DDoS attack would be helpful, too, but anti-DDoS strategies are beyond the scope of this article; moreover, the reality is that your ability to stop DDoS attacks once they are in progress is often limited.) Having backup copies of your data would be critical in this situation. That’s obvious.

What may be less obvious, however, is the importance of having a plan in place for making the backup data available by bringing new servers online to host it. You could do this by simply keeping backup data servers running all the time, ready to switch into production mode at a moment’s notice. But that would be costly, because it would mean keeping backup servers running at full capacity all the time.

A more efficient approach would be to keep backup data server images on hand, then spin up new virtual servers in the cloud based on those images when you need them. This process would not be instantaneous, but it should not take more than a few minutes, provided that you have the images and data already in place and ready to spin up.

having no disaster recovery plan is equal to an unlimited downtime .

In the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey, the cost of outages added up to more than $50,000 in losses, on average, with bigger companies citing losses up to $5 million.

It’s these kind of eye-popping figures that bring companies down without any hope of recovery. It doesn’t matter what size your company is, downtime is clearly the enemy you want to avoid

author avatarRamaswamyK
Real User

I would fully agree that in the present stage of Cyber & Email preparedness one has to be always be prepared in terms of a disaster recovery. This will need to be prepared with the latest backup & recovery system which will pertain to the needs of the current needs & requirements prevalent in the sites.

author avatarNavin Gadhvi
Real User

A disaster recovery plan describes scenarios for resuming work quickly and reducing interruptions in the aftermath of a disaster. It is an important part of the business continuity plan and it allows for sufficient IT recovery and the prevention of data loss

Mark Donnelly
I am researching Backup and Recovery software. I am interested in Acronis. How does it compare to VEEAM and Azure?
author avatarMohamed Eltoukhy


-Modern mobile-enabled web interface
-Touch-friendly, works on tablets
-21st century look and feel


-Basic outdated windows interface
-Windows only – no mobile devices
-Ancient look and feel

author avatarEnayat Galsulkar
Real User

Veeam is a good easy to use backup solution. But it has some limitations when you have an HCI Infrastructure like Nutanix. 

Veeam BEM though can manage the jobs in Nutanix but if I need to fetch any reports for compliance requirements, it's not available. BEM will provide reports only if you are using VMWARE or HyperV. hence we are moving towards Rubrik. 

author avatarRichard Goldstein
Real User

This comparison is going to be short and sweet.

Azure is ok but if you use Azure hot or cold storage, be aware that the cost could be a killer

DimenXional Currently uses VEEAM because the cloud appliances we purchased came with a VEEAM license. The product is easy to use but here again, they are less expensive solutions.

I tried Acronis and the problems we had were all based on internet speeds. The initial backup of a 1TB drive took several days. That is just too long

I can tell you that DimenXional will be offering a BaaS and DRaaS later this summer. Its called WatchDog-BaaS and WatchDog-DRaaS.

We will be using Wasabi hot and cold storage which is 80% less expensive than Azure, AWS, Rackspace, and lots of others.

WatchDog-BaaS is being built to go toe to toe with Carbonite on local workstations/laptops/etc, as their interface is ugly and the product support is nasty

WatchDog-DRaaS is our Virtual offering.

author avatarAaron Canales
Real User

First off Azure is not a backup strategy or solution, its an S3 repository. Acronis, Veeam, Rubrik, Cohesity are Enterprise Backup Solutions/EBS that can facilitate an S3 (Cloud-out). Read the Gartner Report on EBS publisehd last Nov 2019 for better insight. - Best, Aaron

author avatarChukwu Austine
Real User

I have used Acronis and Veeam and choosing between the two depends on result you expect to get from the Backup Solution. I will advise you try the trial version of both and decide which gives you better result.

author avatarreviewer1053252 (Technical Presales Consultant/ Engineer at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees)
Real User

That all comes down what exactly you are looking to backup. Virtual, physical, cloud. Nevertheless if you are looking for a simple, reliable, scalable, and flexible solution which has a portable license model that fits all go with Veeam

author avatarJohannFLEURY
Real User

There is no “proper” answer to your question.

First, before the tool, define your goal as:
- how many systems?
- how many virtual vs physical?
- sizing (even roughly)
- is there some DBs or specific app?

Then time will come to choose the correct tool.

author avatarreviewer1243038 (CEO/co-founder at a tech services company with 1-10 employees)
Real User

Veeam is a leader. Acronis is a niche player. Veeam is integrated with most storage systems on the market. Functionality - I'd recommend Veeam.

See more Backup and Recovery Software questions »

Backup and Recovery Software Articles

Matthew Shoffner
IT Central Station
May 18 2021

Discussions about backup tend to dive straight into the technical aspects of creating safe copies of vital data. They may miss what is arguably a more important issue, which is the purpose of the backup process itself. When looking at explanations of the different types of backup available to IT managers, it’s worth keeping in mind that backup and restore processes ideally serve business objectives - ensuring business continuity, recovering from disasters like cyberattacks, and enabling operational technology to remain in service with as little interruption as possible.

In reviewing the offerings of the best backup software, we’ve put together options that should keep these higher level objectives in mind, help you create a sound backup strategy, and leverage all the advantages of data backup and recovery.. There are four main approaches to backup: full backup, incremental backup, differential backup, the mirror backup. There is no best type of backup. There is only the method that works best for a particular organization’s needs. That said, the fastest backup and restore process is generally the best, all things considered.

Jump to our Comparison Table for Types of Backup.

Full backups

What is full data backup?

A full backup involves making a copy of an entire digital asset, such as a database or data set. It’s the most basic and rudimentary backup type. Typically, whoever is in charge of backups will conduct a full backup of a file on a periodic basis.

However, its name notwithstanding, in the case of a system backup, a full backup typically does not replicate every single little piece of the system. That is the job of the “Day Zero” backup, which occurs right after a system has been successfully installed and configured. A “Day Zero” backup makes a 100% complete copy of every system file for safe keeping, including files and libraries. These files don’t change very often, so it’s not worth wasting time and resources backing them up as regularly as a full backup process.


There’s minimal time needed to restore the data. Since everything is backed up at one time and it’s a copy in its entirety, everything can be restored at one time as well.


A full backup can take up a lot of storage space and a lot of time to backup. It’s storing and recovering the full data set, which can be quite large, as opposed to storing and recovering the portion of the data set that has changed.

Incremental backups

What is an incremental backup?

An incremental backup copies only that data which has changed since the last full backup and since the last incremental backup. An incremental backup process is particularly useful when dealing with transactional databases, which are constantly changing. When it’s not practical to make a full backup because of resource constraints (i.e. time or storage) or the pace at which data assets change, an incremental approach is more pragmatic.

So, imagine that there is a full backup performed on Sundays. (Weekends are a good time to do an operation with such high network and system load.) On Monday, an incremental backup would only replicate anything that changed in the period between Sunday and Monday. If the incremental backup schedule is daily, then the Tuesday backup would copy any data that changed since Monday, and so forth.


Very little storage space is required when executing an incremental backup process since only data that has changed will need to be backed up. It’s also a very fast process given the limited amount of data in comparison to a full backup.


Restoration is the slowest in comparison. All incremental changes in addition to the full backup need to be reconciled to accurately restore the data, which takes more time than a full or differential backup process. Additionally, if one incremental backup record in the chain is “broken”, it can jeopardize the latter incremental backups.

Differential backups

What is a differential backup?

A differential backup is similar to an incremental backup, with one important difference. Every time a differential process is executed, it backs up all data that has been modified or generated since the last full backup and ignores previous differential backup instances. An incremental backup process only backs up data changes since the last incremental backup was run.

For example, if the full backup was on Sunday, and there is a differential backup done each subsequent day of the week, then Monday’s differential backup will copy data that’s changed since Sunday. The differential backup on Tuesday will copy all the data that’s changed since Sunday, as will the differential backups on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


The recovery process for a differential approach is much faster than an incremental approach since there is only one differential backup block versus the multiple contained in the incremental approach.


Differential backups require more storage space and more time to backup than an incremental approach.

Mirror backups

A mirror backup is a backup that makes an exact copy of the source data. The advantage of this approach is that it does not store any old or obsolete data. This advantage can cause a problem, though, if files get deleted by accident. Then, they are permanently lost. The mirror backup approach is often used in highly critical systems, such as financial and stock trading platforms where a nearly instant restore of extremely recent data is needed to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

Backup Types Comparison Table

Backup type




Full backup

A complete copy of the source data.

Comprehensive and easy to restore.

Takes a lot of time and system resources—cannot be done frequently.

Incremental backup

Copies data that has changed since the last backup, either full or incremental.

Is efficient in use of network and system resources. Can be performed frequently.

Can be complicated to restore.

Differential backup

Copies data that has been changed since the last full backup.

Relatively fast and easy to restore.

Takes longer and uses more system resources than an incremental backup.

Mirror backup

Creates an exact copy of source data.

Enables nearly instant, complete restoration of lost data.

Can result in accidental permanent loss of data.

Freelance Writer – B2B Technology Marketing
Journal of Cyber Policy
May 11 2021

On Saturday, May 8, 2021, major media outlets reported that Colonial Pipeline, whose fuel pipeline network supplies gasoline, jet fuel, and other petroleum necessities to over 50 million Americans, had suffered a ransomware attack and shut down its pipeline as a precaution. The disruption in supply sent gasoline prices rising over the weekend, with financial markets on edge in anticipation of economic impacts in the coming weeks.

Colonial, which is one of the largest pipeline operators in the US, has hired Mandiant, a division of FireEye, to investigate the attack. The FBI and Critical Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are also investigating the incident to determine the source of the ransom attack. Their goal is to help Colonial understand the nature of the malware that has affected its operations. According to the company, the attack only affected its business systems, not the pipeline management technology itself. However, they shut down the pipeline as a precaution.

The source of the attack has not been confirmed, but according to government sources, an Eastern European cybercrime gang known as DarkSide is a leading suspect. At this point, it is unclear who is behind DarkSide. In some cases, such criminal gangs operate either with the consent of nation-state actors or even under their direct instruction. By having a criminal group perpetrate an attack on another country, nation-state actors preserve deniability. The vulnerabilities that were exploited by the attackers are unknown at this time.

Detecting and Preventing Ransomware Attacks

IT Central Station members would not be surprised by the Colonial attack. Many of them have spent their careers detecting and preventing such events, using anti malware solutions as well as tools for endpoint protection and more. Hasnae A., presales engineer at DataProtect, uses Cisco Umbrella for ransomware protection. As a system integrator, they implemented Umbrella to protect the network of a client in Morocco against ransomware and phishing attacks. Hasnae characterized the solution as “easy to use” and valued its ability to integrate with eBay.

Network security solutions are just one of many countermeasures that IT and security professionals are deploying to combat the ransomware threat. Email defense, endpoint protection, and secure browsers can also help mitigate ransomware risks. Backup and disaster recovery solutions fit into the ransomware defense mix as well.

Reducing Ransomware by Protecting Email

Ransomware malware needs to enter a target’s network in order to encrypt data and hold it for ransom. Email, especially phishing attacks, is one of the most potent vectors of attack. For this reason, security managers often try to stop ransomware as it enters the organization through email. An IT manager at a mid-sized healthcare company, for instance, uses Forcepoint for email filtering. He explained that “the spam filter is very effective. It does a good job of detecting ransomware links in email and then blocking them.”

Protecting End Users by Securing their Browsers

Ransomware attackers may deliver their malicious payload through infected websites. An end user might click on a link and accidentally download ransomware onto their device in the process. To reduce this risk, some security teams deploy secure browsers, such as Comodo, on end user devices. Principal enterprise architect Donald B. takes this approach at Aurenav Sweden AB, a business services company. As he put it, “If you open up an application or a web browser, it [Comodo] runs within a container (sandbox). So if there's some malicious code, it will be contained within the sandbox.”

He further noted that “ransomware prevention and zero-day exploits were a driver for adopting Comodo. From our research lab results working with live ransomware, Comodo has been very effective in preventing infection. We've done a lot of tests with numerous types of live malware, and it works really well.”

Protecting Endpoints to Stop Ransomware

The endpoint is a logical place to fight against ransomware. After all, if the security team can kill ransomware on the end user’s device, they’ve gone a long way toward winning the battle against the attacker. IT Central Station members discussed their experiences with a variety of endpoint protection solutions that help them with ransomware. These include a technical manager at a small tech services company who uses Malwarebytes to prevent ransomware and malware. He also deploys the solution’s endpoint detection and response (EDR) functionality. He related, “This means if the data is attacked, I'll be able to recover my data - that is, roll back the data and go to the pre-attack state.”

“The most valuable feature is its ability to detect and eradicate ransomware using non-signature-based methods. It is not a traditional EDR,” said the owner of a small software company. He added, “We think of this product as a fishing net that fits into the computer and has all of the capabilities and understanding of what ransomware and malware look like. It reacts to the look of ransomware, as opposed to trying to detect it by using a signature.”

For Imad T., group CIO at a large construction company, the Carbon Black solution “ensures the probability that any ransomware will be stopped before spreading.” It is an endpoint line of defense against malware and ransomware with scheduled network scans. A senior security consultant for Checkpoint Technologies at a small tech services firm had a similar use case. He remarked, “We had a ransomware attack and the SandBlast agent automatically picked up the ransomware. It automatically deleted the ransomware and restored the encrypted files.”

Mitigating the Impact of Ransomware with Backup and DR

As the Colonial attack reveals, even strong defenses can be breached. Ransomware is able to get through and wreak havoc on important systems. Anticipating this potential, some organizations prepare to respond to an attack by restoring lost data through backup. This way, they can ignore the ransom demand. Anti-ransomware processes should be part of a thorough Disaster Recovery (DR) plan. Such an approach has been taken by Sastra Network Solution Inc. Pvt. Ltd. As their CTO, Shrijendra S., noted, they use Quorum OnQ for backup, cloud service, and disaster recovery as a service [DRaaS]. In particular, they have found that Quorum OnQ has a good ransomware protection feature. Deven S., director at a small tech services company, similarly relies on Acronis as a file- and data-backup solution. In his view, Acronis is “easy to use, performs well, and provides built-in ransomware protection.” He described this as “a great advantage.”


The attack on Colonial Pipeline is getting attention because it is a piece of critical infrastructure that can affect the general public. However, as security experts know, it is just one of thousands of such attacks that have occurred in the US in the last year. Many more are likely coming. Security teams must be eternally vigilant against increasingly brazen and sophisticated attackers. As the IT Central Station reviews show, many validated solutions are available. The challenge is to deploy them effectively in order to detect and prevent ransomware attacks over the long term.

Freelance Writer – B2B Technology Marketing
Journal of Cyber Policy
Apr 01 2021

OVHcloud, Europe’s largest cloud services provider, suffered a devastating fire on March 10 at its facility in Strasbourg, in Eastern France. The fire destroyed one of four data centers at the site. As Reuters reported, the fire disrupted millions of websites, taking government agency portals offline, along with banks, news sites, shops, and many other sites using the .fr web space. The company advised its clients, such as the French government and Deribit cryptocurrency exchange, to activate Disaster Recovery (DR) plans.

Yes, even the cloud can catch on fire. When it does, you want to be confident that your digital assets will be safe - and that your business can continue to operate. Business continuity and DR plans and solutions exist exactly for moments like this. If such an incident does affect your digital business, it is definitely not the time to find out that your DR plan was deficient.

IT Central Station members discuss these challenges in their reviews of backup and recovery and disaster recovery solutions. For example, Pieter S., Information Technology Manager at PAV Telecoms, explained that Acronis Backup “has saved us from certain financial ruin after important servers containing financial data were stolen during a robbery.” He added that “we were able to restore backups to new hardware and carry on with business as usual.”

A System Administrator at Abdullah Al-Othaim Markets put it this way: “We use Veritas for incremental backups for all the servers. It is an automated process. Disaster can happen to any server and the disk image can be destroyed very easily. It's also easy to fully email the backup image and restore the server.”

Albert S., Co-Owner at Angels Dtp, similarly noted that “in difficult situations, where something was accidentally erased or there was another kind of error, I can return to the latest backup and recover. The most valuable feature is the fact that [Acronis] backs up my systems transparently in the background, and I'm not even conscious of it. I just get a notice that it's successfully backed up.”

Other backup managers rely on their solutions to maintain a state of preparedness. Muzammil M., Sr. IT Operations Engineer at AlGosaibi Group, for instance, uses Azure Backup as part of his company's disaster recovery solution. He said, “If there is a problem in the entire building then we can restore our data from over the cloud. Azure Backup is very good for our clients who need to back up data securely and reliably.”

The time it takes to restore data is critical, according to Syed Q., Technical Services Manager at a small tech services company. “With Veritas, the SLAs [Service Level Agreements] are pretty predictable and you can achieve complete backups easily.” For Syed, what matters is duplication and compression and the safe sorting of information, along with a quick recovery time. It seems as if he’s learned this the hard way, as he remarked that “sometimes with other software, a complete backup doesn't happen.”

Reviews of backup solutions on IT Central Station also offer suggested best practices for DR and business continuity. A Technical Presales Consultant/ Engineer at a large wholesaler recommended that “a person put on a Veeam backup service so that in a disaster recovery scenario you set what has to come back up first, because that is going to be the critical information that has to go back up as quickly as possible. You can put anything on critical servers, but we recommend that you use it for critical data that is going to be restored within a four-hour timeframe.”

A Group Product Specialist at a distributor with more than 200 employees revealed that Veeam Backup Replication has “automated backup to the point of almost no involvement needed and our backups can be checked, tested, and verified at any time in accordance with our policies.”

An IT Network Analyst at a manufacturing company made a comment that sums up the essence of DR effectiveness, saying “[Veritas] saves us a lot of time. We're backing up all of our servers with it. The backup potential of the solution is very good. It's protected us in the past very well and allowed us to get up and running after an attack with minimal loss.”

We can all hope that no fire will come to our clouds. But, if it does, we’d best be ready. Events like the OVHcloud disaster are rare, but they do occur. DR plans and business continuity solutions have to be set up and tested so business can go on, without the loss of valuable data.

JC AlexandresThe never old IT adage ... backup, backup, backup.
Rory SheltonBe prepared, an organization's existence could be the cost. 
Vladan Kojanic
Head of Information Technology Group at Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental protection
Mar 19 2021

When the pandemic hit, we were forced to quickly adapt and find answers to questions we’d never asked ourselves before: how can we keep in touch with our colleagues when we’re not in the office? And how can we make sure we are still efficient while working from home?

It quickly became apparent that one, seemingly small issue, could prove catastrophic: our digital system is designed so all business documents are located on our servers and on our work computers. But this also meant that many wouldn’t be able to access these documents from home.

The easy solution would be to give everyone a VPN connection, but because we are more than 300 people in my organization, that would have been too expensive. It would also have been too slow since we would first need to explain how to use the VPN and how to connect to our office network.

In the end, we found a solution that not only solved our problems but actually improved our efficiency by dramatically reducing the amount of emails we were sending back and forth.

A quick response to the crisis

When it became apparent we would soon be working from home, we did a quick internal analysis to identify the programs that were used the most. From this, we concluded that the most important thing was for our colleagues to have access to their data, which enabled us to repurpose a backup solution we have had in place since 2016.

In addition to the standard backup functions, the advantage of Commvault Backup & Recovery is that the backup is managed from a single location. Whether you are backing up computers, laptops, databases, or some business applications, you control and adjust the whole process from one place. And that means my colleagues could access and recover documents, folders, etc. without having to ask an admin.

In my team, we had already used this backup solution in some special situations, so it was relatively easy for us to quickly roll it out to all employees and adapt it to help them work from home.

Since my colleagues were already familiar with the backup system, this actually proved to be a welcome opportunity to modernise our system and to digitise our processes. We had momentum because everyone knew that these changes were necessary, and, most importantly, this solution reassured them that working from home wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem.

A new, short manual was compiled to help employees adapt to working from home, with an emphasis on how they can use secure HTTPS connections to access their data and documents located on the servers.

Now, when they need to share a document with colleagues, they don’t have to send an email with a file, which further burdens the email system, but can simply share a link to the document itself through the backup application. Doing so even enables them to collaborate better, allowing them to edit a document or simply access it without first having to send an email. Just 15 days after implementing this solution, the number of internal emails sent to share documents between colleagues was reduced by almost 70%.

In a later analysis, we saw that compared to March 2019, the total number of emails sent and received with external users in March 2020 increased by an incredible 240%. In other words, there was a huge influx of emails at the beginning of the pandemic as citizens and other external stakeholders sought help and guidance from us, the public servants. By using these functionalities that our backup system has in itself we reduced the number of internal emails significantly, making the system more stable and reducing friction for our colleagues.

This system can be applied in any crisis situation, the only requisite is an Internet connection.


Initially, we were concerned about whether our colleagues would use this new system and whether they would realise that it could do more than serve as the backup system we had used it as up until this point. If the system was rejected by employees, it wouldn’t matter that it could technically do the job.

In addition, as is the case every time a new IT solution is introduced, we had to make sure the system was secure enough, adding another layer of complexity.

What we’ve learned from the pandemic is that the various systems used in public institutions can often be used in other, creative ways than they were originally intended.

And this is the point I will leave you with: this was a crisis where time was in short supply, so we tried to make the most of the tools and software we already had. To come up with a solution by combining several systems.

Rather than coming up with something completely new, sometimes it is enough to simply look a little deeper at what we already have and make some small changes, adapting them to a new reality or crisis. We were all aware that we had neither the time nor the money to hire external firms for new software solutions, and so we had to think outside the box. And in this way, the pandemic pushed us to innovate our systems for the better. Maybe it can do the same for you?

Chris Childerhose
Lead Infrastructure Architect at ThinkON
Mar 02 2021

Every Virtualization and System Administrator deals with having the ability to recover servers, files, etc. and having a Backup Solution to help with recovery will ease the burden.  But how do you know which one is right for you?  How would you go about choosing the right solution that will help you in your daily tasks?

When choosing a backup solution there are many things to consider based on your physical/virtual environment.  What hypervisor are you running, what storage is being used, etc.?  The best way to choose the right solution for the job is through evaluation and the more you evaluate the easier it will be to pick the right one for you.  During an evaluation process you should consider things such as:

·    Compatibility with your chosen Hypervisor

·    Ease of installation and setup

·    Program ease of use and navigation

·       Backup scheduling

·       Reporting – is the reporting sufficient enough

·       Popular within the industry

·       Support for Physical and Virtual servers

·       And so on…and so on….

There are many criteria you can use in the evaluation stage and the above examples are but just a few.  Composing a list prior to starting to look at software would be the recommended approach, this way you are looking at software that will fit most of your criteria prior to the evaluation/PoC stage.

When you have completed your criteria list and selected vendors for evaluation ensure to install all of them.  Installing all of the products allows you to do a side-by-side comparison of the features you are looking for like job setup, ease of use, etc.  Being able to see the products and how they work side-by-side gives you the best evaluation experience.

During the comparison stage look at something like ability to conduct SAN based backup versus LAN – how does each solution compare?  Can the solution connect in to your SAN fabric allowing faster backups?  If you cannot use SAN backups how will it affect the overall performance of the environment?  After backups complete is there a reporting structure showing success/failure, length of time, amount of data, etc.?  When working with the solution is navigation for job creation/modification simple?  Is it cumbersome within the product and/or frustrating creating backups?

There are many things when comparing products to be aware of and answering questions as you go through the products is a great way to evaluate them.

Remember that there are many backup solutions out there for evaluation and choosing the right one can be a difficult decision.  Evaluating the ones that appeal most to your organization is the best way to go and using a methodology for testing them is even better.  In the end you will ensure your success by choosing the right solution for the job!  Evaluate…..evaluate…..evaluate

Federico LucchiniGreat article. Also remember how important are datas in your company, I would… more »
Matthew Shoffner
IT Central Station

Effective data backup and recovery doesn’t just happen, it takes using the best backup software and a sound plan. For sure, some companies have an ad hoc approach to this critical area of IT operations, but that is not a best practice. It’s wise to develop a thorough data backup strategy and plan. After that, the plan should be tested regularly to ensure that it works. There are too many advantages of data backup and recovery to not have a sound strategy and plan.

Data backup strategies and plans are evolving, however. Traditional backup strategies like tape-based data back up to an offsite secondary location have transformed over the last couple of decades with cloud and mobility solutions. Older data backup strategies are often inadequate to protect your data. You need to adopt modern data backup strategies. Also, backup implementation, such as using incremental vs differential backup, should be planned.

New data backup trends include Cloud-to-Cloud data backup, where data from one cloud is backed up to another cloud. Other options include cloud storage of onsite backup data along with appliance-based backup, which can automate the data backup process. There are also hyper-converged backup products and virtual backup appliances that run on a hypervisor and enable faster deployment and easier configuration. However you do it, the data backup strategy and plan should take recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) into consideration.

Best Practices for Backup and Recovery

Backup and recovery processes must balance effort, expense and risks. With that in mind, some important best practices for backup and recovery include the following:

  • Have an offsite backup. The onsite or primary backup could be compromised, so it’s a good idea to have a second, offsite backup as a contingency (e.g. cloud).
  • Treat critical data as a high priority. Sensitive files like financial, personally identifiable information (PII), business contracts, and other crucial information should be prioritized and backed up in ways that are compliant with regulations. Any other data that may have a high business impact in case of a data loss will also fall into this category.
  • Know how you can access critical data. If you suffer data loss, you need to ensure you know how you can access critical data and in how much time it will be available. This sets the right expectations to plan for minimal impact on your operations.
  • Test your backups. Make certain that the regular backups are done successfully by enabling full backup verification. You must also train your IT staff on access and restoration of backups. Periodically conduct tests of data restore processes.
  • Have a communication plan. Your plan has to provide for communications between team members and other business stakeholders even if there is a major system outage. If the outage is due to a disaster, it’s essential to plan for emergency communications, e.g., everyone’s cell phone numbers need to be available on paper lists, etc.

Data Backup Plan and Procedures

The implementation of a backup plan involves procedures and processes. The good news is that many modern backup systems have high levels of automation. Once programmed in, the procedures more or less run themselves. The challenge is to prepare them properly. One path to success in this regard is to create an automated network backup plan. A network backup transmits data from selected devices over a network to the backup server, wherever that is.

Key Questions

  • What is being backed up? Is the data sensitive?
  • Where is your backup being stored? Cloud, on-site, offsite, etc.
  • What is the frequency of back-ups? Hourly, daily, weekly, etc.?
  • Who is responsible for handling the actual work of back-ups? IT manager, Datacenter manager, etc.
  • Who is testing the success of backups? QA resource, IT manager, etc.

First Steps In Planning

  1. Put together a backup plan budget. Once you have decided on your backup strategy, you can allocate a budget accordingly. Cloud-based solutions will be cost-effective and economical. Buying hardware and maintaining it will be expensive, while Backup-as-a-Service with monthly rental options may turn out to be more affordable.
  2. Choose a platform. There are a wide variety of backup platform options. What works for you will depend on your size, the scope and complexity of your backup needs and the compliance burden your organization faces, if any. You can also choose a cloud-based service provider for data backup. If you do not want to put sensitive data on the cloud or government regulations are prohibiting it for any reason, you may have offsite backup storage.
  3. Select a data backup vendor. Evaluate different vendors, some of which may provide a complete solution comprising hardware, software, and cloud backup solution. Others offer discrete components of a full backup solution, and you have to put it all together yourself. We’ve put together the best backup software, and here are reviews on the top three that provide comprehensive solutions - Veeam Backup and Replication reviews, Commvault reviews, and Zerto Replication reviews.

Keys to a Successful Implementation Plan

  1. Establish roles and responsibilities. Set firm procedures, with assigned personnel and accountability for all aspects and scenarios of data backup and restoration. If you work with a service provider, its team should produce a customized recovery plan.
  2. Set a backup schedule. Creating a backup schedule, including backup type and timing will be crucial to ensuring your data can be stored and restored in alignment with your business needs and resources.
  3. Test your backup system. Test your system once it has been fully implemented and set up a regular testing schedule. There are a variety of ways you can test your backup system - core data sets, application recovery, Virtual machine (VM) recovery, physical server recovery, and more. Validate that your backup works, regularly.
  4. Continue to optimize. Revisit your backup schedule and plan periodically, at least one per year. Integrate the review as a part of your IT project development. For example, as new applications and storage projects go into development, their project workflows should include backup and restoration planning.

Backup Plan Example

Digital Asset

Backup schedule

Primary backup type

Secondary type

Backup Owner

Validated by/Date

ERP system


Incremental – to cloud

Mirror site

John F.


PCs on-site


Incremental – cloud

On-premises storage array

Joe D.


PCs – remote


Incremental – to cloud

On-premises storage array

Joe D.


Matthew Shoffner
IT Central Station

There are many types of backup used to both guard and recover data in cases where data integrity is compromised. Data can change very fast, slowly, or not all. Data can be very sensitive or common. Because data can change hourly, daily, or weekly and be of differing importances, a data backup process that aligns with the needs and resources of the business should be selected.

We’ve reviewed the capabilities of the best backup software to understand the main differences between incremental and differential backup, which are the two most common types. Both are extensions of a full backup process, which as its name implies, is a complete copy of all digital assets.

Incremental backup

An incremental backup is a copy of whatever data has changed since the last backup. Thus, if you perform a full backup of your system on Sunday, an incremental backup on Monday will only copy and store any data that has been changed or added since Sunday. An incremental backup on Tuesday will only deal with data that’s changed since the Monday incremental backup, and so on.

Incremental Backup Process

An incremental backup process can be very fast, less than an hour, and the storage capacity needed will be quite small in comparison to a differential backup or full backup. If the full backup was 50 gigabytes, the incremental changes from one day to the next might be 1 gigabyte. The backup manager will have to decide how often to do incremental backups. It might be daily or weekly, or even hourly. That depends on how much change is occurring in the data and how critical it is for continued business operations. If there’s any concern about network capacity or storage, an incremental backup process is most the best choice.

Recovery time for an incremental backup process can be lengthier in comparison to a differential process. Since there are more backups created during an incremental process, each backup logging changes from the last backup, it takes time to piece everything back together. So, the benefit of the quick backup time is offset by a longer recovery time.

Overall, incremental backups are good for organizations that need flexibility and short time periods between backups. Compared to differential backups, an incremental backup copies less information. The “backup window” is shorter. The files are smaller. If your business needs consistently high network performance, you might prefer incremental backups to differential backups, as they typically make lighter demands on the network.

Differential backup

A differential backup is comparable to an incremental backup, in that it’s a backup extension of a full backup. However, unlike an incremental backup, the differential backup backs up the data that has changed since the last full backup. Thus, if you do a full backup on Sunday, a differential backup on Monday will back up all the data that’s changed since Sunday. Then, on Tuesday, the differential backup will also back up everything that’s changed since Sunday. The Wednesday and Thursday differential backups will similarly back up everything that’s changed since the full backup on Sunday.

As you can see, the differential backup process is longer, recording changes in the data since the last full backup, which creates a more resource intensive process requiring larger storage capacity. If you have limited resources or need a faster backup time, an incremental approach may be a better option.

The recovery time using a differential process is much faster in comparison to an incremental process. Since it backs up data changes since the last full backup, there is only one large backup as opposed to the multiple of incremental. Recovering data from one large block in addition to the full backup is much faster than recovering and piecing together multiple blocks.

If your business needs a fast, simple way to restore lost data, a differential backup may be a better option than an incremental backup. A sacrifice in backup up speed and storage capacity will need to be given, but the recovery process will be fast.

Full backup

The term “full backup” is actually a little bit misleading. Hypothetically, the full backup involves backing up all elements of a data asset. However, this is not always true. If the asset in question is a single file or data object, then yes, a full backup will be a complete, unique copy of the asset. However, if the digital asset is a system of some kind, like a website, operating system or database server, the full backup typically does not include every single system file, library and supporting configuration file. That is done in what is known as a “day one backup.”

The “day one backup” truly has everything in it. As it contains everything, it takes a long time to backup. However, it takes the least amount of time to restore since it’s only one large file and nothing needs to be pieced together.

Incremental vs Differential vs Full Backup

Type of Backup




Full backup

Backs up all elements of a data asset (except for underlying system files, which are backed up in the “day one backup.”)

It’s complete, so it offers a single file to restore.

Rapidly becomes out of date and requires a lot of storage.

Incremental backup

Backs up all data that has changed since the last backup, e.g., since the last full backup or the last incremental backup.

It’s the most up-to-date backup.

Fastest backup.

Small backup files; low network and storage requirements.

Data recovery can be time-consuming and more challenging.

Differential backup

Backs up all data that has changed since the last full backup.

Fast data recovery time.

Requires longer backup times and more storage capacity.

Davina Becker
Content Editor
IT Central Station

Businesses spend a lot of time building their proprietary data and information. That information can often hold the key to a competitive advantage in the market. Data loss from threats or disasters can lead to upset customers, lost revenue, and potentially bankruptcy, e.g., more than 90 percent of companies without a disaster recovery plan who suffer a major disaster are out of business within one year. There are tremendous benefits of backup software in backing up your data that can save you time and help you retain your competitive advantage when facing a data loss or complication.

IT Central Station real users of backup and recovery software note the advantages of this type of solution to their IT Departments, management, and end users. Choosing the best backup software can provide you with a great safety net and the most benefits to your business. Benefits include:

  1. Security. One of the most important aspects of data backup and recovery. As IT systems grow and integrate with one another, the number of potential threats increases to the information that a company holds. Maintaining a backup and recovery solution that has strong security is foremost when looking to protect and save data. A Senior Vice President at a medium-sized technology company notes how their backup and recovery software solution, Quorum OnQ, provides them security, “Quorum offers a very high level security environment for secondary data. Once data is in Quorum it is highly secured because the appliance is Linux-based. It does 256-bit AES encryption at rest and in motion.”
  2. Ease of management. Especially when restoring lost data, which can be stressful and time-sensitive, ease of management creates consistencies in the processes for backing up data and information. It avoids end users backing up their own devices inconsistently and irregularly. Speedy data restorations help in expediting RPOs and RTOs across core applications. Jean Maurice Prosper, Chief Executive Officer at Nettobe Group, discusses how Barracuda Backup’s all-in-one management platform is easy and intuitive. Describing Barracuda, he says, “It is not difficult to configure a backup strategy, and manage our backup and restore. It is very user-friendly and made to ease the job of the administrator. We let the solution do the hard part.”
  3. Reliable replication. Ensuring accurate replication of your data makes it disaster-proof. As Franklin, an Enterprise Network Engineer at a large healthcare company and Zerto user, explains, “It's almost like a tape recorder. You can rewind if you need to, if something bad happens. You can rewind the tape and your production begins where your tape left off.”
  4. Maintain compliance standards. Collecting and preserving critical data through regular backup processes, IT departments can be more nimble when responding to requests from legal or auditors. Keith Alioto, Lead Storage Engineer at a large tech services company, talks about the compliance difference before and after deploying NetApp SnapCenter, “What we found was that we weren't backing up all of our SQL servers. We have now gotten to 100 percent compliance in backing up all of our data, and it's regularly measurable: daily, weekly, and monthly.”
  5. Zero impact on performance. Most of the time users don’t realize that a solution for backups is running in the background. Fewer disruptions to users means more uptime. Benjamin R Roper, a Backup and Recovery Specialist at Parsons notes this benefit about his backup and recovery software, Metallic, “Its performance for both backup and recovery is amazing. It runs very well. I don't even know when it's running and that's true during the backups as well. It completes successfully and there's zero impact on the endpoints.”
  6. Helps management control costs. A good backup and recovery software solution can reduce workforce overhead, leading to cost savings. A QA Engineer at a small tech vendor reflects on the savings seen in their company’s storage using Pure Storage FlashArray, “The speed of deployment has gone from several days to a few minutes, e.g., our database team used to spend 93 days backing up and restoring databases. This product has reduced that time into minutes, simplifying storage for us.”

Benefits of Backup as a Service (BaaS)

Backup as a Service (BaaS) connects systems to an outside provider who provides private, public, or hybrid cloud services. This is instead of performing backups with a centralized, on-premise solution. Organizations may prefer to use a BaaS solution when they have outgrown their legacy storage backup, instead of doing a costly upgrade, or possible if they are lacking resources for an on-premise backup. Market trends for BaaS solutions suggest their popularity with a CAGR at 24 percent. Benefits of BaaS include:

  • Quick access to data. This allows IT to easily retrieve files and information for end users. It also provides quick restoration of data when operating systems fail. If employees lose files from OSs, then companies want a solution that provides a single place to recover that data. According to Brijesh Parikh, Senior Architect, Cloud Infrastructure at a large tech vendor, Commvault provides that single solution to recover data. He gives the example, “Every once in a while, we receive requests for files or emails that people have lost and those files are in SharePoint or OneDrive. We have the ability to restore it within 30 days directly from the portal. But if it's beyond the 30 days, we use Commvault to restore data and that has worked absolutely fine.”
  • Data accessibility. Whether connecting to your data from local areas or remote locations, you want to be able to access your data at any time. A System Manager at a large construction company using Rubrik discusses how Rubrik Polaris GPS improved their productivity by keeping data accessible, “Since acquiring Rubrik Polaris GPS, we have further increased our productivity by utilizing SLA policies that extend across clouds and multiple on-premises data centers.”
  • Scalability. As companies scale, they look to enterprise software solutions to help them manage their infrastructure. Whereas, local backups are costly and difficult to scale up. Mostly, this is a result of their reliance on onsite storage. Calvin Engen, CTO at, had this situation as his company’s data centers continued to grow and they needed to be able to scale out their total protected VMs. Before Veeam, “We had backup infrastructure sprawl.” After deploying the solution, “Veeam was able to reduce our overall backup windows while reducing our dedicated backup infrastructure.” Based on Calvin’s review, this saves approximately $20,000 per year.
Find out what your peers are saying about Veeam Software, Commvault, Rubrik and others in Backup and Recovery Software. Updated: July 2021.
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