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Hard Drive Backup

Hard drive backup is used in cases when an entire drive needs to be copied to a backup. Having full disk backup enabled is a must have in production scenarios when data loss is not an option. But even in home or small business user scenarios full disk backup could be very helpful and relatively inexpensive considering possible down time in case of data corruption or data loss.

Physical Hard Drive backup

Physical hard drive backup is used when it is necessary to store a complete image of the hard drive. It is performed by copying contents of every hard drive sector to the backup. This guarantees that hard drive restored from physical backup will match an original 100%. At the same time there may be significant data requirements to storage necessary to store the backup file. Also, to restore such backup you will typically need the hard drive at least the same size as an original hard drive used for backup. Partial restore may not be an option in case of physical drive backup (though some software packages have partial restore feature).

An important feature of the physical hard drive backup is its ability to store boot sectors of the operating system. It means that drive restored from the physical backup will be bootable while logical backup won’t.

Logical Hard Drive Backup

Logical hard drive backup is used when you need to backup logical structure of the hard drive like files, folders, permissions, etc. In most cases logical backup will satisfy most users’ needs while also giving flexibility of partial restore and incremental backup. At the same time if you need to backup a hard drive with an operating system on it and keep it bootable you will need to use physical hard drive backup.

Incremental Backup

Incremental hard drive backup only stores changes to the files since the last backup. This allows to minimize storage required for backups. For example, instead of storing daily full hard drive backups you can store only weekly or monthly full backups and perform daily incremental backups. If data changes on hard drive are relatively small, it may save considerable amount of backup space.