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Data backup means creating an additional (backup) copy of data in order to protect important information on your computer against accidental loss.

A computer is a complex electronic device that is affected by all kinds of failures from time to time. Besides, computer users may make mistakes during their work, which may contribute to losing important information. Often, data stored on the hard drive of a computer cost much more than the computer itself. In this case, in order to prevent the loss of important information, backup copies are used. The process implies saving the necessary data to other media (an external hard drive, a flash drive, an SD card, CDs/DVDs) or copying it to another location that is also physically remote from the hard drive of the source computer (FTP servers, remote computers, etc.). Briefly, this is called data backup.

When is it recommended to make backup copies?

First of all, you should reasonably evaluate the consequences of a computer failure. If the data stored on the hard drive of your computer contain some important information that needs to be accessed permanently and instantly, the backup procedure is a must. Otherwise, your work, the operation of your company, enterprise, etc. can be paralyzed.

What options are there for data backup?

Option 1: - Full backup. A full backup is made in order to create a complete backup copy of data with all necessary files no matter whether they are updated or not. If you make a backup copy for the first time, you should make a full backup copy so that the generated backup copy includes all the files your need. Usually, the full backup is made "monthly" or "weekly" depending on how often you need to update your full backup copy of the necessary data (Fig. 1):

Full backup

Fig. 1 - Sample "weekly" full data backup.

The main advantage of a full backup is how easy it is to restore files from such a backup copy. Since in this case all backup copies are complete and self-sufficient, we get the latest and most up-to-date data after we restore it from the latest generated backup copy (in this case, it is full backup copy D).

A fairly large amount of time and resources spent on creating a new full data backup copy can be considered as the main and probably only disadvantage. Such a backup copy can be rather large and it may take quite a while to create it.

Besides full backups, differential backups and incremental backups are often used in order to save time and system resources spent on creating an up-to-date data backup copy.

Option 2: - Differential backup. Backup copies created during the process of a differential backup are often called cumulative. When this variant of creating backup copies is used, the file modified since the moment of the last full backup will be added to all differential backup copies made later. Thus, each new differential backup copy contains all files modified since the last full backup (Fig. 2):

Differential backup

Fig. 2 - Sample differential data backup.

In this example, backup copy A is a full backup copy (it contains all source files). Backup copies B, C, D are differential. They contain new files and all files modified since the moment when the full backup copy (A) was made. In order to restore the data and get the most up-to-date copy of it, you need to restore the data from the latest full backup copy and the latest differential backup copy (it is backup copies А and D in this case). Therefore, the up-to-date copy of the data is A+D.

Option 3: - Incremental backup. In case of an incremental backup, only new files or files modified since the latest full or cumulative (differential) backup copy was made are backed up. When a new incremental backup copy is made, only new files or files modified since the latest incremental backup will be added to the new backup copy (Fig. 3):

Incremental backup

Fig. 3 - Sample incremental data backup.

Among the three options mentioned above, an incremental backup takes least time and system resources because fewer files are copied as compared to a full and differential backup. However, the process of restoring data is not very convenient and may take quite a while in case of an incremental backup because it will be necessary to restore information from the latest full backup copy and also from all incremental backup copies created later (in this example, it is backup copies A and also B, C, D respectively, therefore, the up-to-date copy of the data will be A+B+C+D).

Backup types in Action Backup.

The backup types described in this section are COMPLETELY (see the program features) supported by the Action Backup software, which makes it an ultimate tool for creating backup copies in an enterprise, in a small or medium company and also at home. We also recommend that you look through the Action Backup software test drive section.

Using the Action Backup software makes it possible to considerably increase the rate and efficiency of the backup procedure.