Sector-Level Disk Backup vs. File Backup vs. Virtual Machine Backup

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Sector-level disk backup is a process where the entire disk is being copied to another disk or a virtual disk, or a container file. Disk backup doesn’t have to be aware of what’s in the disk; disk backup is a sector-by-sector copy of a disk and includes whatever may be stored on disk, including hidden areas, encrypted files, file fragmentation, etc. File backup is a process where the backup application processes each file or document separately. File backup offers many benefits over disk backup, such as file versioning, where the entire history of a document is available for restore. In addition, file backup can be tuned to quickly skip unchanged or unwanted files in the backup. BackupChain also offers a way to change how each type of file is processed (compression, encryption, deduplication, file history length, cleanup, etc.) depending on its file extension.

While disk backup is useful to take a backup of the Windows operating system in its entirety, it’s not recommended as a replacement of file backups. Similarly, file backups alone can’t restore the Windows operating system; hence, most IT administrators chose a hybrid backup strategy: A sector-level disk backup when the server or PC is fully installed with all applications and perhaps once or twice a year after that. File backups, on the other hand, are utilized to make sure all important documents are backed up as often as necessary to avoid losses. Since file backups skip quickly all unchanged portions of your file server structure, they can run several times a day without having an impact on your server’s quality of service and without consuming excessive backup storage. Virtual machine backup is a specialized backup process where backups of virtual machines are taken from the host without interrupting or otherwise interfering with the virtual machines on the host. The virtual machine backup process talks to the virtualization platform (for example, Hyper-V) to bring the VM into a consistent state before backup. It then takes a consistent file backup of all relevant VM files, which are then compressed, encrypted, and or deduplicated.

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