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Why incremental backups are larger than expected?

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Old 03-16-2007
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Why incremental backups are larger than expected?
The Filing Cabinet has a nice explanation on this. I'm glad they wrote it since I was really beginning to wonder - why! Incremental backups are suppose to save the amount of space over the full backup - which they do, but not in the ordinary fashion.
Weíve seen a number of customers ask why their incremental backups are almost as large as their full backup. This can be surprising on a lightly used system where you donít change or add a lot of files between backups. Seeing files backed up that you know you didnít change can be perplexing, but there is a good explanation: the files were indeed changed, either by a program or a perhaps inadvertently by a person. For example, any of the following actions can cause files to be changed and therefore backed up:
  • Antivirus programs writing to alternate streams on the files or programs that update media file metadata (ID3 tags, for example). Even right-clicking a file and viewing its properties can add an alternate data stream to the file, thus changing it.
  • Changing permissions on the parent folder or setting compression.
  • Moving the files to a different folder.
Backup in Vista does not make any decisions about which types of changes to back up versus those to ignore--any file that is changed will be backed up. To determine if a file has changed, Backup looks at creation date, modification date, and last written to date (visible only programmatically). Backup does not understand any file formats and does not look in any headers to decide when to back up a file, nor does Backup use the archive bit. --Jill
I wish the backup program was more "smart", but I guess I'll live with it, until my external 500 Gig WD Drive runs out of space :) Via: TheFilingCabinet


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