Data Backup Strategies: Tips for Ensuring Business Continuity and Minimizing Downtime

JUNE 18TH, 2024

There are plenty of reasons for downtime and business disruptions, such as power outages, hardware failures, natural disasters, and more. One thing is for sure: Downtime is painful and costly. The 2023 Uptime Institute data center survey found that respondents’ most recent, significant, serious, or severe outage cost more than $100,000, with 16 percent saying their most recent outage cost more than $1 million

The same survey also revealed a concerning trend: while the frequency and severity of outages are decreasing, cyber-related incidents, which often lead to the most severe outages, are on the rise. These incidents can cause extensive and serious disruptions, underscoring the critical importance of your business continuity plan, data backup, and recovery strategies.

We frequently write about the importance of following the 3-2-1-1 backup strategy to ensure your data is always safeguarded, backed up, and recoverable. That includes using immutable storage to ensure at least one copy of your backup data can never be altered or deleted by unauthorized users. 

Best Data Backup Strategies: Full, Incremental, and Differential Backups

Developing your data backup and recovery strategies involves many aspects. Understanding best practices for full, incremental, and differential backup is one area that will help ensure your backup regimen meets your requirements while containing storage, network, and associated costs.

Full Backups: Your Foundation for Data Protection

A full backup involves making a complete copy of all data from a specified dataset at a specific point in time.This action gives you a baseline snapshot of your data, serving as the foundation for your overall data backup strategies.

Benefits: Full backups capture every bit of data contained in your systems, and make restoration straightforward, if needed, because all data is in a single backup set.

Technical Considerations: Full backups are resource-intensive, requiring substantial storage space and time. To ensure this vital data is always recoverable, they are best stored offsite, in a secure cloud location, and using immutable storage, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Object Lock.

Best Practices: Full backups are typically performed weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your requirements. To minimize traffic bottlenecks, they should be scheduled during low-usage periods, such as weekends. Regularly test your ability to restore your backups to verify their integrity. 

Look to products like Arcserve Unified Data Protection (UDP), which includes Assured Recovery. This feature enables you to test the recoverability of your data on a replica server (the server you use to take over if your primary production server goes down). 

Incremental Backups: Efficient Support for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Incremental backups are designed to save time and storage space by only copying data that has changed since the last backup, whether a full backup or another incremental backup. One example of an incremental backup is the Arcserve UDP Infinite Incremental Backup Process, which uses hardware snapshots to intelligently create incremental snapshot backups once a full backup has been executed. 

Benefits: Incremental backups significantly reduce the amount of data to be backed up, accelerating the process

Technical Considerations: Restoring from incremental backups requires the most recent full backup and all subsequent incremental backups to ensure a complete recovery. While they can be performed quickly, restoring your data can be time-consuming as you rely on multiple backup sets. 

Best Practices: Deploy a solution, like Arcserve UDP, that reliably tracks changed data within your systems. Maintain a consistent backup schedule to avoid reliance on multiple incremental backups.

Differential Backups: Balancing Incremental and Full Backups

Differential backups copy all data that has changed since the last full backup. Arcserve UDP achieves this in Windows environments by employing an agent to take a full Volume Copy Shadow Service (VSS) snapshot when a backup is started, only backing up the blocks that have changed since the previous successful backup.

Benefits: Balances the time and storage requirements between full and incremental backups and simplifies the restoration process compared to incremental backups, as only the last full and latest differential backup is needed.

Technical Considerations: Differential backups grow in size over time as more data changes. That can require substantial storage space. They are also faster to restore than incremental backups but require more storage.

Best Practices: Schedule differential backups frequently to limit their size and your risk of data loss, and combine them with regular, full backups to reset the differential backup size and ensure efficient storage.

Implementing an Effective Data Backup Strategy to Minimize Downtime

Creating an effective backup regimen involves careful consideration as part of your business continuity planning. Here’s how to get started:

Assessment and Planning
Conduct a thorough assessment of your data, including understanding its volume, criticality, and rate of change. This post, “A Four-Pronged Data Classification Strategy for Effective Data Protection, Retention, and Storage Optimization,” will help you understand how to classify your data. Define your recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs) based on your business requirements.

Scheduling Backups
Schedule full backups during low-usage periods, perform incremental backups daily or more frequently if your data changes quickly, and conduct differential backups weekly or bi-weekly to balance network traffic loads.

Storage Management
Use a mix of local, offsite, and cloud storage to ensure redundancy and fast access, and employ deduplication and compression, as offered by Arcserve UDP, to optimize storage utilization.

Data Protection and Cybersecurity 
Ensure your backups are encrypted at rest and in transit, keep at least one copy in immutable storage, and implement identity and access management (IAM), role-based access controls (RBAC), and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure only authorized users have access.

Testing and Validation
Regularly test your backups’ integrity by performing restoration exercises and validate that backup schedules meet your defined RTOs and RPOs.  

Simplifying Backup and Disaster Recovery with Unified Data Protection

When you choose a unified data protection platform like Arcserve UDP, you get a single solution that integrates backup, disaster recovery, and data management into a single, comprehensive platform.

That simplifies implementation and management. Here’s how:

Centralized Management
View and manage all backup activities from a single pane of glass and reduce administrative time and effort with streamlined policies and backup schedules.

Improved Efficiency
Arcserve UDP seamlessly leverages advanced technologies like deduplication, compression, and encryption across all backup types. This optimizes storage usage and network bandwidth consumption for more efficient backups.

Enhanced Reliability
The solution automates backup processes, reducing the risk of human error. It also integrates with disaster recovery solutions to ensure quick failover and recovery.

Comprehensive Data Protection
Arcserve UDP supports a wide range of data sources, including physical, virtual, cloud, and SaaS-based data, ensuring consistent data protection across all your platforms and devices.


The best data backup strategies and solutions safeguard your data, ensure business continuity, and minimize downtime.

Learn how simple Arcserve UDP simplifies implementing an effective data protection solution by requesting a demo.

For expert help with all your data protection needs, choose an Arcserve Technology Partner.

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