Quick and easy file syncing with Dropbox
Incremental backup is a preservation method that records file-level changes—or only the data pieces or file portions—that differ from the last full backup. For example, if you’ve edited one sentence of a 10-page document, only that file portion is saved to the full backup (instead of a new copy of the entire file).
Since you’re only backing up the parts that have changed since the last backup, incremental backup takes up less storage space and is quick to perform regularly or even on a daily basis. However, it can be less convenient if you’re restoring a backup copy of a file with a large amount of data or an entire drive in times of disaster recovery because the whole file is recreated from the parts saved incrementally to the full backup.
Differential backup methods preserve data by backing up entire files changed since the last full backup. So, even if you’ve only edited one sentence of a 10-page document, a new copy of the whole file will be saved to the backup.
Depending on how it’s implemented, incremental and differential backups can be seen as equivalent backup methods. But one difference does stand out—with differential backups, the entire modified file is preserved in the full backup so data recovery of files or drives can be done faster. On the file level, however, differential backup times can be longer since it uploads all cumulative changes since the last full backup.
While there are different backup types and forms of backup software, every data backup system starts with a full backup—a record of all files in a hard drive or Dropbox account. For the end user, it’s how changes are saved against the full backup that make the difference in speed and storage space.
Dropbox has its own file backup method called delta sync, which is most akin to an incremental backup method. Delta sync provides fast file syncs and takes up less storage space overall, which translates to smoother, simplified workflows for all Dropbox users.