Grandfather-Father-Son Backup Scheme - Safest Backup Strategy

If you want to learn the grandfather-father-son (GFS) backup definition, and how it works, read this article, and you will learn the step-by-step guide to creating it.


by Ivy Updated on November 9, 2022

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What Is Grandfather Father Son Backup?

Grandfather-Father-Son (short for GFS) is a common and most widely used backup rotation strategy for storage media. Typically, It consists of three or more backup cycles as follows, allowing you to combine different backup frequencies (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and/or annual backups) and full, incremental, or differential backup methods, and save backups in two different locations.

So how is it work? Here take the most traditional grandfather-father-son backup as an example: 

  • Grandfather: monthly full backup, once a month, for example, the last day of every month, and save it off-site or in the cloud. 
  • Father: weekly full backup, once a week, and save it locally. Here take every Monday in a week as an example, you can also select a specific day. 
  • Son: daily incremental backup or daily differential backup, once a day or more often, such as, hourly, and save it locally.

GrandFather Father Son Backup

And some of the backups are removed for safekeeping or diaster recovery purposes. The grandfather-father-son backup scheme follows the first in, first out rule, which will deletes the oldest backups first to free up more space for new backups.

Grandfather Father Son Backup Advantages & Disadvantages

Grandfather-father-son backup advantages and disadvantages are obvious. Compared with a single backup method, it offers you more backup images, which greatly reduces the data loss risk or downtime after the system crashes or disk corruption, as it is stored in different storage devices. And no matter what happens, you can easily get your files or system back.

However, this backup strategy takes much time and requires two different storage devices. And the process will be much more complex if you create incremental backups, set multiple retention policies, and use different off-site storage. Besides, if you restore a daily incremental backup, you need to be sure that all the linked incremental images are intact.

Best Grandfather-Father-Son Backup Software

To create a grandfather-father-son backup, you a reliable backup software that supports different backup frequencies, backup methods and cleanup methods. AOMEI Backupper Professional is such software and you can enjoy the following useful features:

  • Schedule Backup: It offers users 5 modes, such as Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, and USB plug in. 
  • Full/Incremental/Differential Backup: The first option creates a full backup every time and the last two options backup only changed files, which saves much backup time and disk space.
  • Automatic Backup Cleanup: It supports 4 cleanup methods, By quantity, By time and By daily/weekly/monthly, By space, and the last cleanup method is only available in the differential backup.

I can’t wait to show you the simple steps to create Grandfather, father, son backups, the detailed steps are listed below. Please download GFS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Professional first.

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Create Grandfather-Father-Son Backup Step by Step 

Here take Disk Backup for example to create grandfather-father-son backup. You just need to create 3 backup task with corresponding settings, among them, the grandfather backup uses off-site storage and the father and son use local storage.

Just like the 3-2-1 backup strategy, you need two storage devices at least, please prepare them before creating a backup task, one is local (internal/external disk, USB drive) and the other is off-site, such as, network drive, NAS, cloud drive, etc. 

Then, learn the overall steps to create a disk backup and the corresponding settings:

The overall steps: 

  • Run GFS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Professional. Choose Backup tab and then the Disk Backup option.
  •  Click Add Disk to select the disk you want to backup and click Add.
  • Choose a local disk or off-site device to save backup image.
  • Set grandfather-father-son backup settings and confirm it. Finally, click Start Backup > Add the schedule and start backup now or Only add the schedule. to start this backup.

Disk Backup

Tip: You can also create a system backup, partition backup, file backup or cloud backup with GFS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Set the grandfather, father and son backup settings in 3 different backup tasks. 

About Son: Daily Incremental Backup 

① Click Schedule Backup and choose Daily, then you could choose three daily backup settings, showing like below:

  • Run once only at 2019/4/10 19:24

  • Run once every day at 19:24

  • Intervals (you can even set hourly backup )


② Switch to the Backup Scheme tab, and click OK to enable Incremental Backup. It is the default backup method in a scheduled task and you can also use Differential Backup instead.

Incremental Backup

About Father: Weekly Full Backup 

① Click Schedule Backup and choose Weekly, and then you could choose the days to perform the backup, Monday, for example, the selected days will be displayed as orange.

Schedule Weekly

②Switch to the Backup Scheme tab, and choose Full Backup to perform the scheduled backup.

About Grandfather: Monthly Full Backup 

①Click Schedule Backup and choose Monthly, then you could specify the specific time to perform the backup, last day, for example.

Schedule Monthly

② Switch to the Backup Scheme tab, and choose Full Backup to perform the scheduled backup.

Tip: You still can create schedule backups via event triggers, and USB plug in feature.

Set the retention time of full backup, incremental backup, differential backup, and other backups. It helps to remove old backups automatically in the scheduled task. 

Scroll down and enable automatic backup cleanup, then you could select one of cleanup methods listed below.

  • By default, in the Incremental Backup mode, you will see the following 3 options - By quantity, By time and By daily/weekly/monthly.
  • If you use Differential Backup, you still can use By Space method.


All the core steps for the Grandfather father son backup are above. Once created, the backup task will automatically run at the certain time you set, so you don't need to worry that you will forget to backup.


You can easily create the grandfather father son backup scheme to protect your data better and improve working efficiency with two storage devices and the GFS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. You just need to create 3 backup task with corresponding settings, mong them, the grandfather backup uses off-site storage and the father and son use local storage.

Besides, this software is still a file sync, clone, restore software. So  you can use it to real time sync files or folders, and keep changes of them, restore backup image to new hard drive, or even restore to dissimilar hardware computer, migrate Windows 10 to SSD drive without reinstalling system, and many more.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.