Incremental Backup Software. Explained by Bacula Systems.

incremental backup softwareBacula Enterprise Edition has always supported the different standard backup levels that you will find in all major and professional backup solutions:

* FULL backups secure the complete defined data set (called FileSet in Bacula’s configuration files);
* INCREMENTAL backups are all the changed files since the last backup (no matter which level);
* DIFFERENTIAL backups contain all combined changes since the last FULL.

You can immediately see that, once in a while, DIFFERENTIAL backups can decrease restore times a lot, because for a given point in time recovery you do not need the last FULL plus all INCREMENTAL backups. You can use one FULL, one DIFFERENTIAL and perhaps some INCREMENTALs that have been running after the last DIFFERENTIAL. The number of volumes that Bacula needs to access on disk, or the number of tapes that need to be read in for the restore will be significantly smaller.

However, for a lot of organizations, that amount of data has grown recently to such an extent that even a schedule with regular FULL backups has become impractical. These data centers would like to do the FULL set only once and then follow an INCREMENTAL forever scheme. Since restore times will increase over time in such a scenario, it is typically more desirable to do is a synthetic Full (or “Virtual Full” in Bacula’s terminology). With this technique no new FULL backup gets transferred over the network, instead Bacula calculates a FULL from the last FULL and all DIFFERENTIAL and INCREMENTAL backups that followed.

You should be sure to validate the VFull once in a while, either with a Verify Job in Bacula, or with a test restore (either with a partial file set, or of the whole machine) to a separate restore target machine. Only then can you be sure that your data is indeed intact in a Incremental forever and Virtual Full schedule. That is how the incremental backup software from Bacula Systems works. Incremental and differential backup software helps to save time and storage space.

To decrease restore times even further, you can implement Bacula Systems’ Progressive Virtual Full (PVF) technique which will let your VFulls follow the current time stamp. In combination with Global Endpoint Deduplication, PVF can be done within seconds, and your restore times will stay within your SLAs.

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