What is Cumulative Incremental Backup and How to Perform It?

What is cumulative incremental backup, and how is it different from full backup or ordinary incremental backup? You will find answers in the following article and the steps to perform cumulative incremental backup in Windows 10/8/7.


by Delia Updated on December 8, 2022

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What is cumulative incremental backup

Cumulative incremental backup is a backup mode that saves only changed or newly added data since the last complete backup, which is more commonly known as differential backup.

For large files that need to be modified frequently, performing full backup will consume a lot of time and storage space, while a cumulative incremental backup can save you from such worries. Besides, with the latest full backup and a subsequent cumulative backup, you can easily restore data to an earlier version of a specific time point.

But, how is this backup mode different ordinary incremental backup? When and how to perform it in Windows?

cumulative incremental backup

Cumulative vs incremental backup, what's the difference

Both of them only save changed files, but a cumulative incremental backup is based on the last full backup, while an ordinary incremental backup is based on the last full backup or incremental backup.

That is, if you create a full backup on Day 1, a cumulative incremental backup on Day 2 and Day 3 respectively, then the backup of Day 2 will contain the changes from Day 1 to Day 2, and the backup of Day 3 will contain changes from Day 1 to Day 3.

And if you make ordinary incremental backups on Day 2 and Day 3, the backup of Day 2 will save changes from Day 1 to Day 2, and the backup of Day 3 will only include changes from Day 2 to Day 3.

Therefore, restoring from cumulative backup requires a full backup and a subsequent cumulative incremental backup, while restoring from incremental backup requires a full backup and all the subsequent incremental backups till the specific time point.

incremental vs differential backup

In conclusion, both cumulative backup and incremental can save storage space and backup time, but incremental backup is faster on backing up and cumulative backup (or differential backup) is faster on restoring. You can make a choice according to your needs.

*Here's a more detailed comparison of incremental and differential backup for your reference.

How to do cumulative incremental backup in Windows 11/10/8/7

The biggest point of performing a cumulative incremental backup is to save time and storage space, can the same effect be achieved by using Windows built-in backup utility?

In fact, a schedule backup created by Backup and Restore claims to add only changed data since the last backup. But in practice, many users still experience the following:


My past use of Win 10 backup has always created a new backup set equal in size to the last one, and telling me not enough space on backup drive to complete. So I had to delete the prior backup set and start again.

As for File History, it does support incremental backup to save only changed files, and has the ability to keep multiple iterations. But only external drive is available as its target device, many users have also reported that File History not backing up all files.

So if you want to perform cumulative incremental backup in Windows 11/10/8/7 and arrange the backup more flexibly, a specialist backup software can provide better support.

AOMEI Backupper is as an example because it supports all 3 backup modes for free: full, incremental and differential (cumulative incremental).

It contains complete options like File Backup, Partition Backup, System Backup and Disk Backup. And the supported storages include internal/external hard drive, USB flash drive, NAS, network share and cloud service.

If you have further backup needs, you can also configure compression level, email notification, image splitting, etc.

Download and install the free trial to experience its wonderful functions:

Download Free TrialWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to do cumulative incremental backup with AOMEI Backupper

Step 1. Launch the tool, select Backup and File Backup for individual files or folders. If you want to back up Windows operating system, please choose System Backup instead.

file backup


Step 2. Click Add Folder or Add File to select the data you want to back up.

add folder or file

Step 3. Select a destination to save the data. For removable devices, please connect it to your PC first. Optionally, you can also Select a network location or Select a cloud drive from the drop-down menu.

select destination

Step 4. Click Start Backup to implement the first-time full backup. Then you can select the task in Home page, choose Backup > Differential Backup to perform cumulative incremental backup manually.


▶ If you want to perform schedule backup in cumulative incremental mode, please click Schedule Backup in Step 3 to set up an daily, week, monthly backup. You can then go to Backup Scheme tab to select the backup method as Differential Backup (the default selection is Incremental Backup).

schedule backup

▶ If you are still concerned about cumulative incremental backups filling up storage space, you can also set up a automatic backup cleanup policy in Backup Scheme to auto delete backups older than x days.


▶ If you want to perform differential or incremental backup in Windows Server, you can turn to the Server edition.


Cumulative incremental backup (or differential backup) can save your time and storage space for data protection. To perform it in Windows 10/8/7, you need specialist backup software like AOMEI Backupper. It enables you to do different types of backup both manually and automatically. And not only backup, you can also use it for real-time sync and disk cloning.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.