By Delia / Last update January 18, 2021

Full backup vs incremental backup

An incremental backup of an external hard drive includes only changed files since the last backup, which is so different from a full backup that copying all sector data of your hard drive.

Full backups should only be done weekly or monthly to back up major changes such as OS upgrade or software install.

However, incremental backup should be done daily to make a image of daily changed information (those small files will be accumulated as a big one sooner or later) in order to avoid data loss during long intervals between full backups. And this is a wise backup solution.

The need to perform incremental backup for external hard drive

The most files on your external hard drive never or rarely change, so an incremental backup will make a much small image file with backing up only changed data, which occupies smaller disk space and takes less time to finish backup job.

For instance, a full backup is about 50gigabytes, while the incremental backups vary from 2.5 gigabytes to around 10. And the backup time is less accordingly which depends on the changes of your drive that day.

But, you should be skillful for using incremental backups, because all the incremental backups must be available to perform a restore of an point in time due to its feature.

For example, you make an automatic PC backup setting to do a monthly full backup and a daily incremental. When you want to restore your computer to a point in time 7days into that month, you need the initial full backup and the 6 incremental backups to reach that day. Each incremental backup should be restored “on top of” the backup prior to it, until the last has been processed.

How to incremental backup external hard drive with worry-free method?

Now we will show you how to incremental backup external hard drive with hard drive incremental backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard. It is running well with all editions of Windows including Windows XP\Vista\7\8\8.1\10 and allows you to do full backup, differential backup and incremental backup. It’s easy to operate and completely free of charge.

Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition. Select “Disk Backup” under “Backup” tab.

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Disk Backup

Step 2. Name the task, select the external hard drive you want to do incremental backup and select the destination path.

Select External Hard Drive

Step 3. Click “Schedule", then you will see “Incremental Backup” under “Advanced” (this option is chose by default). Besides, you can set to backup only new files automatically under “General” tab. Click “OK” to finish setting, and then “Start Backup”.

Incremental Backup External Hard Drive


  • Once the process of backup is completed, interface will turn to "Home". Here, you can preview all the backups, and you can directly start a incremental backup through "Backup" > “Incremental Backup”.

  • On the “Home” interface, you can preview all the versions of this backup task through Home> Advanced> Properties. Then, all the image files of this backup will be listed under the "Versions" tab.

As for restore, AOMEI Backupper can help restore to a date with the point-in-time incremental backup so as to avoid the complexity for you.