What Type Of Backup Do You Need? (Full, Incremental, Or Differential)

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types of website backups

When was the last time you backed up your website?

We know this probably sits a long way down your to-do list. Well, it’s time to give it the importance it deserves. Why, you ask? Well, there’s the possibility of your website being hacked, and bad plugin updates or accidental content overwrites wreaking havoc on your site… all of this leading to a potential loss of data! Having a back up in the event of accidental data loss is a life-saver… pretty much the first step towards damage control. Let’s take a look at the different types of backup available for your website!


1. Different types of backup

backup website

As the world of data expands at an exponential rate, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to backups that you can simply adopt. The kind of backup strategy you wish to put in place would depend largely on your circumstances and the site’s requirements. We will address which type of backup suits which type of use cases in a bit. But first, here are the three common types of backups you will need to choose from.

i. Full backup

As the name implies, a full backup takes the entire copy of your data assets and backs up all of your files into a single version. If you choose a full backup system, the next time you back up your data, all the files and folders will be backed up again entirely. Some like to perform full backups periodically – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – while the rest perform a full backup initially and follow it up with other types of backups.

a. Advantages

  • Easy control over the version as everything is backed up end-to-end.
  • Fast and easy recovery as the complete data is readily available.
  • Files and folders backed into one whole set.

b. Disadvantages

  • Consumes more storage space.
  • Backups and restoration take more time to complete.

ii. Incremental backup

This type of backup is created by the system whenever there is a change in the site’s files and database tables. So the first time you install an incremental backup plugin, it backs up your entire site. Following that, whenever the plugin detects changes to your site’s files or database tables, only those changes are saved.

Backup plugin BlogVault’s zero-load incremental backup method uses an intelligent sync technology that breaks down the data into small chunks to save it so that the load on the site’s server is minimal. Apart from the server load, this type of backup also reduces storage space. Instead of the entire site, only the changes need to be backed up. This comes in real handy when you have a large site to backup!

a. Advantages

  • Requires less time and less storage.
  • Demands the least bandwidth.
  • Since only the changes are backed up, chances of a backup failing are almost zero percent.

b. Disadvantages

  • An initial full backup is needed for an incremental backup.

iii. Differential backup

In simple words, a differential backup is like a cumulative backup that takes care of all the changes that you do since your last complete backup. Unlike incremental backups which only look for the changes in data since the last backup, differential backups look for changes in the data since the last ‘full backup’.

For instance, while scheduling backups for your site, if you schedule a full backup on Friday and then a differential backup on Monday, it would cover for all changes between Friday and Monday. In addition, a differential backup on Wednesday would cover all the changes done since Friday’s full backup – which would also include files changed on Monday and between Friday and Wednesday.

If you are opting for a plugin or service that does differential backups, then it is recommended that you schedule a weekly full backup for the site. That is because, in a differential backup, all the changes to the site since the last full backup are saved. As the time between two full backups increases, the file size of the differential backup would also increase. And it’ll ultimately exceed to that of the full backup!

a. Advantages

  • Data restoration is faster when compared to full backups.
  • The process of backing up data is faster compared to full backups

b. Disadvantages

  • Requires more storage space and time compared to incremental backups as it will continue to copy all the changed data since the last full backup.
  • If one of the backups fails, either full or differential, recovery will be incomplete.
  • Takes longer to restore the file as you need to locate data on different backup sets.

2. How to choose the right type of backup?

Largely, backups are chosen as a combination of different approaches. This will help to ensure that your full data is protected without any compromises. Choosing the right type of backup for your website depends on several factors:

i. How much data are you backing up?

Choosing the right kind of backup would depend on the amount of data you need to back up. Share on X

If you have a high volume of data that needs to be backed up, you can use a strategy that combines an incremental backup with a full weekly backup.

ii. How frequently should you back up?

This is an important factor to consider while choosing the type of backup you wish to take for your site. Taking backups at the right intervals is important. It ensures that you don’t miss out on any new data or changes in your website.

So, you definitely want to be able to schedule automatic backups depending upon how dynamic your site’s content is. This will ensure that you have an up-to-date backup at all times. For a site with very dynamic content, an intelligent backup system will be handy to help you sync with real-time changes that you make to your data.

iii. What about restoration of backups?

The reason anyone backs up their website in the first place is to recover quickly in case of any unforeseen event. Most of the free backup plugins lack the ability to restore backups correctly and quickly. And the last thing you would want is to spend time waiting for assistance to get your site running again. You should be able to select the right version of your backup and restore it even before people begin to notice that your site is down.

restore websites

There are several back-ups and restore plugins that can help restore your site in an effective and efficient manner in such situations. Another very important aspect of site recovery is verifying whether your backup is safe and functional. In order to do that you should also be able to test your backups to see if they are really working.

BlogVault’s Test Restore feature is an incredible feature that allows you to test your backup before restoring it to the live site. This will help you to check the health and hygiene of your backup in a test environment. After which you can push it to the live site.

Final words…

Apart from the above factors, your website’s need for risk management, the total volume of data assets and other factors can contribute towards choosing the right backup approach.

It is not always possible to take a full backup daily and hence incremental backups are often the best bet. Your site is best served with a smart plugin that can be customized to your requirements. BlogVault’s backup plugin offers incremental backups, and stores all your backup files remotely so you can access them even when your site is down!  

Don’t push backing up your website to the fag end of your list of priorities – make sure you choose the right kind and do it as often as possible!

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