Incremental Backup


Incremental backup is a backup method that stores only the changes made to data since the last backup, whether it was a full or incremental backup. This approach saves storage space and reduces the time required to create a backup. However, the restoration process may take longer as it requires reassembling the full data from the last full backup and all subsequent incremental backups.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Incremental Backup” is: /ɪnkrəˈmentəl/ /ˈbækʌp/”Incremental” has four syllables: in-kruh-MEN-tuhl.”Backup” has two syllables: BAK-uhp.

Key Takeaways

  1. Incremental Backup saves only the data that has changed since the last backup, resulting in faster backup times and reduced storage requirements.
  2. Incremental Backup allows for more granular restores, enabling you to recover specific files or folders from a certain point in time.
  3. Although the restore process can be slower compared to other backup methods, incremental backups minimize the impact on system resources and network bandwidth during the backup process.


Incremental backup is important in the realm of technology as it offers an efficient and reliable method of data protection, allowing for the conservation of time, storage space and resources.

It involves backing up only the changes made to the data since the last backup, rather than replicating the entire set of data.

By doing so, users can restore data to a specific point in time more easily, reducing the required recovery time in cases of data loss or corruption.

In addition, incremental backup minimizes storage space utilization, improves backup speed, and streamlines workload management, ultimately proving to be a cost-effective approach to safeguarding valuable data.


Incremental backup is a data protection strategy that serves to efficiently store and safeguard information in a manner that minimizes storage space and system resources. Its primary purpose is to record the changes that have occurred within a system since the last backup, be it a full or incremental backup. By doing so, incremental backups allow organizations and individuals to maintain up-to-date records of their digital assets, safeguarding against potential data loss or corruption.

This method is particularly useful for businesses dealing with vast sets of constantly changing data, as it drastically reduces the time and resources required to conduct regular backups compared to a full backup, leading to a more streamlined and cost-effective data storage approach. Incremental backups play a vital role in disaster recovery and business continuity plans. One of its key benefits is minimizing the amount of redundant data stored, as only the changes are recorded rather than the entirety of the data set.

This not only aids in reducing storage costs but also shortens the restoration process when needed. Additionally, since the frequency of incremental backups can be customized according to specific needs, this allows organizations to be better prepared in case of unexpected data loss, ensuring that their operations continue with minimal disruption. Overall, the use of incremental backup technology is an essential strategy for the effective management and protection of valuable digital assets in today’s information-driven world.

Examples of Incremental Backup

Personal Data Backup: Many individuals use incremental backup technology to protect their personal data stored on their home computers or external hard drives. For example, a user may set up an incremental backup system to periodically save their files while working on a project, such as creating a video or editing documents. This ensures that, in case of hardware failure, power outage, or accidental deletion, only a minimal amount of data is lost, and the user can easily recover the most recent version of their work.

Company Data Storage: Companies, both large and small, often rely on incremental backups to safeguard critical business data. For instance, a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system may generate incremental backups at regular intervals, to ensure that all financial and operational data is safely stored and easily restorable. This enables the company to resume normal operations quickly in the event of a disaster, minimizing downtime and financial loss.

Cloud-Based Data Backup Services: Cloud-based backup service providers, such as Backblaze, Carbonite, and CrashPlan, offer incremental backup solutions for both personal and business users. These service providers automatically identify and backup any new or modified files on a user’s computer or server to a remote data center at regular intervals. This provides an extra layer of protection and convenience, allowing users to easily recover their data from the cloud in the event of a hardware failure or other data loss incident.

Incremental Backup FAQs

What is an Incremental Backup?

An incremental backup is a type of backup that only saves the changes made since the last backup. This means that it only copies the files and data that have been modified or added since the last full or incremental backup, thus saving time and storage space.

How does Incremental Backup work?

Incremental backup works by keeping track of changes since the last backup, either full or incremental. When an incremental backup is performed, it only backs up the modified or new data, leaving the unchanged data untouched. This method reduces the time and storage needed to perform the backup, but may require a longer time for restoration as each incremental backup needs to be restored in sequence, starting from the last full backup and ending with the latest incremental backup.

What are the advantages of Incremental Backup?

1. Saves time: Incremental backups are faster than full backups as they only save the changed or added data.

2. Saves storage space: Since incremental backups only copy modified or new data, they save significant storage space compared to full backups.

3. Reduced backup window: As incremental backups are faster, they can often be performed more frequently, thus reducing the amount of data lost if a failure occurs.

What are the disadvantages of Incremental Backup?

1. Longer restoration time: To restore from incremental backups, you must have access to the last full backup and all the subsequent incremental backups. Each backup must be restored in sequence, which can be time-consuming.

2. Increased risk of data loss: If any part of the chain of incremental backups is lost or damaged, it can lead to incomplete or unsuccessful data restoration.

3. Management complexity: Managing a series of incremental backups can be more complex than managing full backups, as you must ensure that each incremental backup is available and undamaged for a successful restoration.

When should you use Incremental Backups?

Incremental backups are ideal when you have limited time and storage resources. They are typically used in combination with full backups, as part of a broader backup strategy. Implementing incremental backups can help reduce data loss, save time, and save storage space, but careful planning and management are necessary to minimize the risks of data loss and lengthy restoration periods. If the data you are backing up is critical and needs a rapid restoration process, it may be better to consider a different backup strategy, such as differential backups or more frequent full backups.

Related Technology Terms

  • Full Backup
  • Backup Schedule
  • Data Archiving
  • Backup Storage
  • Disaster Recovery

Sources for More Information


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