The data I have on my system typically changes a lot in a month. Because of this, I feel the need to back-up all my files on a monthly basis.

Since backing up all the data from scratch takes considerable time, could anyone tell me if it could be done in an incremental fashion, like an update to the currently existing backup data?

Note: I would prefer to use the Windows-7 backup wizard itself and not to use any third-party application as much as possible.

1 Answer 1


like an update to the currently existing backup data?

You can do that, though if you update the current backup and you overwrite it you might want to look at something like rsync. That compares your current data with the backup and only transfers the changes.

Incremental backups on the other hand usually do not change the backup data. They add a file with the differences.

These are slight but important differences.

  • A single up to date backup will be the same size as your data.
  • A single full (first incremental) backup with only incrementals added afterward will grow in size. Every months change will be added. Month after month.

Depending on how much data you backups this may or may not be a problem.

Then there is a question where do you store the backups. You did not ask it, but you want to consider it. A backup on a drive in the same computer can be useful, but if lightning strikes (or theft, or fire, or ...) then you loose both the main data and the backup.

Therefor when selecting you backup solution, consider at least these additional points:

  • How much space and time to I need for a backup?
  • Where do I store the backups.
  • Can I encrypt the backups (in case of theft, or off-site storage) and where do I store the encryption key?

(This started as a comment but I can't fit in in the bloody small comment fields).

  • Thanks. Just to clarify though, 'incremental' backups won't delete the files from my backup data even if they have been deleted from my system, but 'update' will get that done, is it? Mar 3, 2013 at 19:09
  • Correct. An incremental backup will store all files, and only add new or changed files. Deleting a file on your main computer and then doing a new incremental backup will not remove the deleted file from your backup set.
    – Hennes
    Mar 3, 2013 at 19:13

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