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Cloud data security posture management
Data structures and management

What are the most common backup techniques?

Backup Concepts

Data backup is the technique of moving data from a primary to a secondary location in order to protect it in the event of a disaster, accident, or malicious activity. Even while manual data backup is an option, most businesses employ at least one common backup technology solution to guarantee that systems are constantly and routinely backed up.

Every organization should back up their data regularly, as a fail-safe in case a data loss should occur. 

Although it is possible to use manual backup methods,  such as copying data to a different location, it is recommended to use an automatic backup program. Each program has its own execution technique, but there are four common backup types implemented and generally used in most of these programs: full backup, differential backup, incremental backup and mirror backup. The type of backup defines how data is copied from source to destination and lays the foundation for a data repository model (how the backup is stored and structured).

The four types of backups

  • Full backup - The full backup, which contains all of the information stored in the folders and files that are chosen to be backed up, serves as the foundation for all other forms of backup. Because full backups keep all files and directories, they enable quicker and easier restoration processes.
  • Differential backup - All files that have changed since the last full backup are included in the differential backup. Unlike a complete backup or an incremental backup, a differential backup has the advantage of speeding up the restoration process. However, if you run the differential backup too frequently, it can end up taking up more space than the initial full backup.
  • Incremental backup - The incremental backup procedure saves any files that have changed since the last full, differential or incremental or backup. The benefit of an incremental backup is the short period of time it takes from initiation to completion.  However, each incremental backup must be analyzed during a restoration procedure, which could take some time.
  • Mirror backup - The mirror backup is similar to the full backup, but the files are not compressed in zip files and cannot be password protected. A mirror backup is mostly used to produce an exact copy of the source data. The advantage of a mirror backup is that programs may easily view the backup files.

Backup solutions terms

  • Versioning

Backup versioning is the process through which a backup solution enables a computer file to have several archived versions. A number of a file’s previous versions are typically stored in file systems that support backup versioning. Most versioning programs periodically snapshot changing files at hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly intervals.

  • Snapshots

Snapshot backups are primarily used to act as the system's restore point to when the snapshot was taken and to restore a system, virtual machine, disk, or drive to operating condition. It differs from a backup copy and does not actually store the data; rather, it merely specifies where and how the data was kept and arranged at a specific time.

  • Point-in-Time Recovery (PITR)

Point-in-Time Recovery (PITR) is a technique that enables a database administrator to restore or recover a set of data from a backup that dates back to a specific point in time. Once PITR begins logging a database, the administrator can restore a database backup from a specific point in time. When someone unintentionally deletes a table or records from a database or if something goes wrong and corrupts the current database, PITR is crucial. The quickest way to handle this is to collect the transaction logs and restore the database to a previous "known good" point.

Backup Management – What is a backup retention policy? 

A backup retention policy is an internal organizational guideline that specifies what data the organization retains, where it is retained and for how long. Retention rules are important for several reasons,  and mainly for the purpose of keeping customer or client data safe and easily available. Retention policies may vary according to the specific demands and needs of the sector involved - healthcare, education, IT and retail. Some retention policies could additionally specify when particular pieces of data must be deleted.

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