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Lorant (Softland)
Jul 13, 2020
Backup4all - all editions
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Full backup is the starting point for all other backups and contains all the data in the folders and files that are selected to be backed up. Because the full backup stores all files and folders, frequent full backups result in faster and simpler restore operations. Remember that when you choose other backup types, restore jobs may take longer.

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What is full backup?

It would be ideal to make full backups all the time, because they are the most comprehensive and are self-contained. However, the amount of time it takes to run full backups often prevents us from using this backup type. Full backups are often restricted to a weekly or monthly schedule, although the increasing speed and capacity of backup media is making overnight full backups a more realistic proposition.
Full backups offer the best solution in data protection and given that you can schedule a backup to run automatically, it requires little intervention compared to the benefits. A single full backup provides the ability to completely restore all backed-up files and folders, as exemplified in the image below:
full backup
However, you should be aware of a significant security issue: each full backup contains an entire copy of the data. If the backup media were to be illegally accessed, stolen or lost, the entire copy of your data could be in the hands of unauthorized persons. This is why when deciding to use a backup program to make full backups, make sure it supports encryption to protect the backed-up data.

Advantages of full backups

  1. Restore is the fastest
  2. The entire backed-up data is stored in a single file (better storage management)

Disadvantages of full backups

  1. Backing up is the slowest compared to other backup types
  2. The storage space requirements are the highest (compared to incremental backup or differential backup. Considering how cheap storage devices are now, this is a low impact disadvantage.

Full backup vs incremental backup

Full backup type will perform a complete backup of all source files and folders, every time you run the backup, no matter if the source files were changed or not since the last backup execution.
Incremental backup type will first run a complete backup and then only new and modified files will be backed up, on the following executions.
If you have only few files new/modified every day, the Incremental backup type is recommended. Otherwise, if there are many files new/modified and you run Incremental backups, in a short time the backup increments could exceed the full backup in size.
The incremental backup is faster and uses less space than the full backup.
full vs incremental backup

Full backup vs. differential backup

While full backup will include all source files and folders, every time you execute the backup, the differential backup type will back up all new and modified files since the last full backup.
The differential backup is faster and uses less space than the full backup.
The differential backup includes all new and modified files since the last full, no matter if they were already included in the previous differential. This way, you can have many duplicate files in successive differentials.
full vs differential backup

Full backup vs. mirror backup

The Full backup type will copy all the source files and folders in a zip archive, while the Mirror backup type will copy the source files and folders without zipping them, resulting an exact copy of the source files.
On the following backup executions, the full backup will copy all files every time, while the Mirror backup type will only copy new and modified source files to destintion, overwriting the old file versions.
As a recommendation, even if full backup offers the most protection, it's good to have a backup strategy in place where full backups are performed weekly, and faster backup types (such as incremental) are executed daily.
Please note that Backup4all does not perform full system backup as it was designed for data files backups only.

Backup4all supports the full backup type and offers a solution for the storage space requirement and security issues. You can use the "Limit number of stored backups" option to reduce the backup size. Regarding security, since the output of a full backup is a single container file created with zip compression, you can use AES encryption to protect the stored data. Click here to go to the Backup4all download page.