Full Data Backup: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?
A full data backup is a process of creating an exact copy of all the data files that you want to protect in a single backup operation. It is one of the most common and reliable methods of data protection, as it allows you to restore your data in case of any disaster, such as hardware failure, malware infection, accidental deletion, or natural disaster.
In this article, we will explain what a full data backup is, how it differs from other types of backups, and why it is important for your business.
What Is a Full Data Backup?
A full data backup, also known as a complete backup, creates an exact copy of an entire dataset. Since a full data backup refers to a defined dataset, it is a relative term. The dataset from which a backup is created can include:
- All data on a laptop
- All payrolls of one year
- All customer records in a database
- All files in a specific folder
A full data backup can be performed manually or automatically, depending on the backup software and the backup schedule. The backup software will keep track of what was backed up, when, where, and whether the process was successful or not.
A full data backup can be stored on various media, such as external hard drives, tapes, CDs, DVDs, cloud storage services, or network-attached storage (NAS) devices. The choice of the backup media depends on factors such as the size of the data, the cost of the media, the speed of the backup and restore operations, and the security and reliability of the media.
How Does a Full Data Backup Differ from Other Types of Backups?
A full data backup is one of four popular backup methods. The other three are:
- Differential backup: A differential backup copies only the data that has changed since the last full backup. It requires less time and space than a full backup, but more than an incremental backup. To restore data from a differential backup, you need the last full backup and the last differential backup.
- Incremental backup: An incremental backup copies only the data that has changed since the last backup, whether it was a full or an incremental backup. It requires the least time and space among all types of backups, but it also requires the most time to restore data. To restore data from an incremental backup, you need all the backups in the chain since the last full backup.
- Disk mirroring: Disk mirroring is not a backup method per se, but rather a technique of creating an exact copy of a disk or a partition on another disk or partition in real time. It provides high availability and fault tolerance, but it does not protect against data corruption or human errors.
The following table summarizes the main differences between these types of backups:
|Type of Backup||Time Required for Backup||Space Required for Backup||Time Required for Restore||Number of Backups Required for Restore|
|Differential||Shorter than full||Larger than incremental||Shorter than incremental||Two (last full and last differential)|
|Incremental||Shortest||Smallest||Longest||All (last full and all incrementals)|
|Disk mirroring||N/A (real time)||Same as original disk||N/A (instant switch)||N/A (no restore needed)|
Why Is a Full Data Backup Important?
A full data backup is important for several reasons:
- It provides a complete and consistent snapshot of your data at a given point in time.