Advantages Of ‘Incremental Forever’

Ideally, backing up should be a fairly simple process. However, the backup process is designed to solve a number of problems in many different situations. For this reason, a number of specialized technologies have been developed to facilitate the data protection process and different scenarios.

Oftentimes, when researching for different backup methods, you may come across certain terms that sound confusing. One of the terms that have been increasingly mentioned within recent years is “Incremental Forever”.

Traditionally, backups have been performed in cycles. Once a week, a full backup would be performed on the main server. This full backup would require a backup window of several hours. Of course, this would be very inconvenient if it had to be done every day. In order to minimize backup windows on future backups, the company would then perform smaller incremental backups. In other words, they would only back up the files that had changed since the first full backup from the beginning of the month.

If the system were ever to require a full recovery, the IT administrator would have to install the first full backup from the beginning of the week, and then update this backup using the most recent incremental copy. As data storage increases, this monthly backup becomes larger and larger. For many companies, this presents a problem. In some cases, the backup windows might run from 5:00 PM… going through the night… and would still not finish before the start of the next business day.

In order for companies to cope with rapidly growing data, the need for that full weekly backup must be either reduced or completely eliminated. “Incremental forever” technology works in a similar way to the old fashioned backup process… but with a twist. First, a full backup is performed on the server. After that, a series of incremental backups are performed. The real difference, however, is that the incremental backups are automatically combined with the original in such a way that you never need to perform a full backup again.

Once you’ve performed the first backup, you just keep performing incremental backups forever. (Hence the name) This eliminates many of the problems and concerns associated with large backup windows.

For companies that back up their data off site using a network connection, this type of backup methodology can also help reduce upload times and bandwidth usage. Given the fact that business data is growing at such an amazing rate… 50% or more in many cases… We’re beginning to see more IT departments abandoning the traditional backup schedule in favor of the new “incremental forever” methodology.