Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
There are several ways to approach storage space for backups (compression, increments, differentials). Some will be tricky, and in the long run, a new hard drive just might be easiest.
Hi. On my computer at home, I have 800 GB of data. My external storage is 1000 GB and I use Acronis from your recommendation. I have a backup of my computer and then weekly, I do differential backups, but the storage is becoming full. So I had to delete the external storage and start again. So for five hours, if my computer broke, I was going to lose everything. Is the only solution to buy a bigger external storage?
In this excerpt from Answercast #11, I look at the issue of storing backup files, explain different methods of storing backups, and look at what might be the easiest solution to a large data problem.
It's not the only solution, but it is certainly a solution and it might even be the easiest solution.
There are a couple of different approaches you can take.
Acronis and similar backup tools usually have the option to compress the data that they're backing up. The default is typically what I would call moderate compression. They can usually be turned up so that they'll compress the data a little bit more. The actual backup copy then would take up less space.
The cost is that the backup might take a little bit longer because you're actually asking the CPU to do more work as the backup happens.
The difference is actually simple. You started out with a full backup (which I assume is the five hours initial backup that you started with), every backup thereafter can be either incremental or differential.
A differential backup would get bigger every time you take it until you run out of space. An incremental backup would actually vary in size because its size will depend only on what has changed since the previous incremental backup. So, that's another option.
Certainly getting another hard disk is a very simple option.
The other approach (I'm a little reluctant to go this way) is to consider whether or not everything on your primary hard drive needs to be backed up or needs to be backed up all the time. One solution is to take a system image - an initial system image - and save that in a different place, or on a different platform, and then selectively choose what to backup on a more frequent basis.
I suggest that only because it's certainly a possibility. I'm reluctant to suggest it only because you do run the risk of not necessarily backing everything that you wanted to.
Another approach, of course, is to do less frequent backups. In fact, I ran into this myself several years ago, I had Acronis doing a full backup followed by nightly incremental backups.
My hard drive (my backup drive) got full. So, I made a choice to do incremental backups every other night instead. The same could apply with a solution that still uses your differential backups.
So, there are a lot of different approaches to solving this particular problem. You can reconfigure your backup to do things a little bit differently.
By far, the simplest, (even though you already have a pretty big drive at a terabyte) is to go out and get another hard drive. Get one that is as large, and come up with a way to spread the backup across the two drives (which is not necessarily an easy thing to do). Or go out and get yourself a new even larger one.
I believe they just released a three terabyte for not that much. I know that I have series of two terabyte drives in my basement right now.
So there are definitely some easier options there with respect to simply getting larger hard disk. In all honesty, given the price of hard disks these days, that's probably the easiest and safest way to go.
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