#2 Types of Online Backup

Watch our short video guide below – giving you the rundown on the most common types of Backup which can benefit your business:

A Step Forward

So, you’ve decided that backup would be good for your business, that’s a step in the right direction. However, with so many backup options available it can be more than a little overwhelming to figure out what it is exactly what you would need! That’s why we’ve done the grunt work for you! We’ve collated everything you need to know about different types of backup and translated it from the technical jargon into a form that most normal people will understand.

Take a look below at the different types of online backup available.


Full Backup:

This is typically what people think of when they hear the term backup. This consists of backing the whole file or database each time a backup is performed. Generally, these are used at the start of a regular period for a business’ backup and then other backup types are used to add to this and avoid long backup times. These days after the first full backup, later full backups are synthetic in that they are created from existing full and incremental backups. Also, a full backup can mean an entire file, not necessarily the entire machine.

Pros: Cons:
  • – Standalone backup you can restore from
  • – Quick and easy to Restore
  • – Enable you to restore data
  • – Takes longer than an incremental 



Incremental Backup:

After a full backup is performed, incremental backups can be used, these will only backup any changes detected from the previous full or incremental backup – thus reducing the time needed to backup.

The downsides to this used to be that the restores would take longer as it would restore the full backup, then an incremental, then another etc. However due to the advancements in backup technology that is no longer an issue – you can now simply choose where you want the backup to restore from, this is due to the increments not being kept on separate disks anymore.

Pros: Cons:

  • – Much quicker than performing full backups
  • – Will only backup additional changes



  • – Not standalone used in conjunction with a full backup
  • – If one increment is lost/corrupted, then a   full restore past that point isn’t possible

Files and Folders:

As the name suggests this is backup specifically targeted at protecting data held in folders, files, documents etc. According to Solarwinds MSP 70% of workstations are not backed up, despite this people are constantly storing important data locally. Backing up these files don’t take long at all, depending on file sizes of course, is fairly cheap and can easily be backed multiple times a day. A big benefit of this service is that you can access and restore your files from anywhere and so comes with more utility than just backup. Most backup software will have an option to backup just files/folders meaning you also have the choice to suit your needs.

Pros: Cons:

  • – Simplest Backup Type
  • – Individual files can easily be restored
  • – Restore to anywhere



  • – Doesn’t protect the operating system.
  • – Or Applications



This type of backup is used to backup application data, for example this is commonly used for databases or email systems where data is not held in flat files. Application backup is usually an option from a more advanced backup software. This type of backup simplifies the process of managing database and the log files which both need to be managed simultaneously.

Granularity, rather than restoring an entire mail server, gives you the ability to restore a single email account for example. Features like this are important/convenient for businesses that have email accounts with a lot of important information on them, or other similar databases. Depending on the application you use will depend on how easy it is to find backup software that is compatible with it. For example, more obscure database services will be harder to accommodate compared to something more common, like MS SQL.

Application backup software often allows for a targeted restore which reduces the time significantly compared to a full restore. Again, this makes it easier to accommodate to your time frame/needs.

Pros: Cons:

  • – Application specific
  • – Simplifies the process
  • – Special features per application



  • – Not all applications are catered for
  • – Software can require additional licenses


Bare Metal:

A bare metal backup is used when a whole server restore is needed. This goes as far as restoring the operating system, hardware drivers and optionally all the data. Everything is restored which is why it’s called ‘bare metal’, as in the hard disk in the usual medium on which a computers OS is installed on. This is generally only used when hardware failure, major corruption or a particularly bad virus is present.

The system must be restored to a state prior to this. This isn’t usually a common occurrence. This of course takes much longer than a regular full backup as there is much more to copy/restore.

Pros: Cons:

  • – Quicker and easier than installing and              configuring the OS
  • – Can restore a whole system
  • – Good for server hardware failure
  • – Good against corruption/viruses



  • – Usually only Windows
  • – Additional cost involved



This style of backup will create archived versions of data at fixed intervals for example at the financial year end. You can then go back to that point in time to review data if you ever need to. Generally, backups have a 30-day data retention period, i.e. the period of time from which you could choose to restore from. An archive backup is designed to be kept much longer, maybe indefinitely. Archival backups are useful for adhering to legal and compliance obligations.


Pros: Cons:

  • – Archiving offers a lot of utility if it is needed
  • – Management of historical data

  • – Data storage requirements increase the      more points in time you are required to         keep
  • – Additional cost involved

General Pointers:

For all the above services it’s usually fairly standard for a 30-day retention period for the data, this is to balance storage costs with usefulness of the backup. Sometimes it can take days or weeks to realise that data has become corrupt or is missing, if you only keep backups for seven days this would be a problem.  It is possible to have shorter retention periods if it suits your needs but 9 times out of 10 the 30 days is a good starting point.

Often you can unlock additional features in backup software with the purchase of additional licenses, which means you don’t have to change your software completely every time your requirements change.


Still Not Sure What You Need?

There is a lot of information to take in and while we’ve only gone over the basics of which each type of backup is/what it does, it’s perfectly reasonable to still not be quite sure what is best for you, it can be a pretty overwhelming topic if you don’t have much previous knowledge about it. Not to worry if that’s the case, just drop us an email or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out! You can get our contact information/make an enquiry here.


Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about any of the mentioned services, how they can be best used in your business or more technical info such as specifications we’ll be releasing another guide in the near future covering all of this! Alternatively, you can look at the backup product pages of our website.


Chris Allen

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