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Incremental Backup Software

Best Incremental & Differential Backup Software.

Bacula Enterprise has always supported the different standard file 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). They consume more resources for their execution, both in storage, network, bandwidth and execution times, and are the most complete and fastest to restore from in the event of disaster.
  • Incremental backups are all the changed files since the last backup (no matter which level). They typically have smaller execution times and consume less physical and logical resources than the entire file sets that make up a full backup. Over time the logical management of a large series of incremental file backups can slow down restore times. But that is how incremental backup software works on Windows, Linux and other OSes.
  • Differential backups contain all combined file changes since the last full. Differential backups have the potential to 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 incremental backups that have been running after the last differential. In addition to being a support element for data backup and restoration operations, it also contributes to time and cost savings. 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 operations will be significantly smaller. Differential backup software is convenient and fast.


For many organizations, data growth due to new requirements, use of new technologies, organizational changes, etc., means a schedule with regular full backups has become impractical. Bacula Enterprise allows these data centers to do the full set only once and then follow an Incremental forever scheme that means incremental file backup consolidation. Differential and incremental backups are also known as “smart backups”, because they only back up file changes that have occurred in different objects in a given period of time.

The use of incremental backup software allows you to take advantage of the execution of partial backups of data (in time and quantity). Incremental vs differential backup both provide the following benefits:

  • Better organization and planning of policies for the execution of file backups in enterprises and organizations;
  • Decrease in file backup execution times;
  • Possibility of defining and adapting the backups, according to certain criteria and specifications, such as criticality, duration, amount of information, etc;
  • Decrease in the execution times of the recovery operations of information stored in the backup volumes.

incremental vs differential backup

Synthetic full backup

Since restore times will increase over time in such a scenario, it is typically more desirable to do a synthetic full backup (or “Virtual Full” in Bacula terminology). With this technique Bacula’s software calculates a new full backup from all differential and incremental backups that followed the initial full backup, without the requirement of another full data transfer over the network.

Virtual full backups save time and resources on the client side, because the data is taken from the local storage and then consolidated into a new local “full”. In this scheme, the full backup is constantly renewed, and as new incremental backups are executed, the oldest ones are added to the full.

Bacula Enterprise in its incremental backup software provides means 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. Incremental and differential backup software help to save time and storage space, and Bacula Systems also ensures data integrity for backup strategies that include long periods between Full backups.

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. Effectively a sliding backup window is created by merging only selected incremental backups into a virtual full. This incremental backup software allows decreased backup windows and data transfer while maintaining fast restore times and precise retention windows.

Bacula Enterprise Progressive Virtual Full uses intensive and intelligent management of indexes and pointers to the information backed up to save a large amount of time and disk space on storage devices. In combination with Global Endpoint Deduplication, PVF can be done within seconds, and your restore times will stay within your SLAs.

The use of Global Endpoint Deduplication with Virtual Full backups saves significantly on disk read and write operations, both in local storage and in remote sites and offsite datacenters. This aids in speed and reduced bandwidth for information replication to alternative sites for disaster recovery.

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