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Does your backup files taking up large space?

There is no denying that backups play a great a role in protecting data considering the event of data loss. While running scheduled backups repeatedly, you will have many backup versions and all these backup versions take a lot of disk space on your hard drive.

At this time, you may choose to delete backup files or use a larger drive as backup destination, but neither of the two solutions can solve this problem. You may mistakenly delete files in need if you use the first solution. And the backup disk may be full sooner or later if replace the smaller drive with a larger one, it's just a matter of time.

Well then, how to solve the problem backup disk full? You need to use backup retention policy in backup software, which has its own rule and can automatically delete old backups to save much disk space while retaining some of the latest backups.

What is the backup retention policy and precautions? 

A backup retention policy is a rule that defines how to retain backup files and how long they should be retained. Here I will use backup software AOMEI Backupper Professional to explain in detail for you. 

This software has 5 different backup policy, namely, Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Differential Backup, Space Management Scheme, Other Backup Scheme. And it allows you to specify the number of backups you want to retain or the backup cycle based on the selected backup scheme. In addition, there are something you need to know before you set backup retention policy for your backup task.

Backup types: You can create system backup, disk backup, partition backup and file backup per your needs. 

Backup Schedule: You can set schedule backup in daily/weekly/monthly backup & full/incremental/differential backup. But you need to know that the deletion of any previous backup versions in the scheduled incremental backup will cause the backup invalid while a differential backup will not, because their basis is different. 

Backup Scheme: You select any of the backup scheme among the five options. Please pay attention to the backup schedule and backup scheme you choose, otherwise the backup may not be execute as expected. For example, if you select a differential backup scheme and incremental backup schedule, the backup will be execute as a differential backup. 

What is backup retention policy best practices? 

As mentioned earlier, the backup disk will be full filled if you backup data or system continuously. Therefore, in order to delete old versions of backup files, some users create a batch file to delete old backups created in a certain period of time and use Task Scheduler to run the batch file. 

It sounds pretty good, but there are potential problems that may invalidate the backup. If you use scheduled incremental backup, it will keep creating incremental backups after the first full backup by default. Once you accidentally delete one of the previous incremental backup, the backup afterwards will be invalid.

Therefore, if you are not familiar with the way how incremental backup and differential backup work, it is not recommended to manually delete any versions of backup. The best practice is to employ a professional backup software for backup disk space management, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Professional or its advanced version. 

How to easily perform backup retention policy step by step?

To automatically delete old backups while keeping the latest backup valid, you could follow the stepwise tutorial below. In the first place, download AOMEI Backupper Professional and install it on your computer. If your compuer use server system, Windows Server 2012, for example, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Server. Then, prepare a backup disk to store image file.

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Step 1. Connect the backup disk to your computer and be sure it's recognized. Launch the professional backup software - AOMEI Backupper, click "Backup" and "File Backup". Also, you can use other backup solutions.

File Backup

Step 2. Click "Add File" or "Add Folder" to choose files or folders you want to backup.

Add File Or Folder

Step 3. Click where the arrow point to select backup destination. You can backup files to external hard drive, network drive, NAS, or other locations as long as it can be detected by Windows.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Click "Schedule" and select daily/weekly/monthly backup & full/incremental/differential backup. The default options are daily incremental backup

Schedule Settings General

Step 5. Click "Scheme" to enable backup scheme and select one backup scheme. Please be consistent with the backup schedule, otherwise the backup will be performed according to the backup scheme. After that, click "Start Backup" to excute the task.


Further reading: five different backup retention policies

“Scheme” is at the lower left corner of a backup solution, such as, file backup, click it and the slide button, then you will see all the backup schemes. You can select one of them and each backup scheme will make a full backup before performing the scheme(it's the default option). Then, see below and learn them in details.

Full Backup Scheme:

  • You can specify how many versions of backup image files to keep and it will always delete the oldest backup file.

  • Say you set the number as 5, when the 6th version of a full backup is created, the oldest backup file will be deleted automatically to make sure you always have 5 full backups.

Incremental Backup Scheme:

  • You can specify the number of the backups in a backup set and this software will only keep the latest one set of backups. 

  • Say you set the number as 5, then after creating 5 versions of backup, 1 full and 4 incremental backup, it will create a full backup. Before the next full backup is created, all the backups (1st-5th) will all be deleted.

Differential Backup Scheme:

  • You can specify the number of the backup image files to keep, and it will delete the differential backup first and then full backup. 

  • Say you set the number as 5, it will create a full backup and 4 differential backup, then continue to create new backup in the default order (full->dif->dif->dif->dif) and delete differential backup untill they are all deleted and then delete full backup.

Space Management Scheme:

This is for running differential backups. When the program detects there is no enough space to perform the next backup, the oldest version of backup will be deleted. You can set the scheme to run a full backup after a certain amount of versions of differential backup. The default number is set to 10.

Other backup scheme:

You can set the scheme to create a full backup and multiple incremental backups with backup retention in daily/weekly/monthly, then delete all of them after the new full backup is completed. You can also set to delete certain number of versions of backup after the next full backup is created.

Written in the end 

That's all about backup retention policy best practices and how to perform this policy step by step. If you are suffering from the insufficient disk space problem, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Professional to delete old backups automatically while retaining the latest backups.

And it supports all the backup solutions and backup features, such as, system backup, disk backup, incremental backup, daily backup, compression, encryption, email notification, event triggers, USB plug in etc. No matter you want to protect your computer continuously or manage backup disk space, you could use this software. Don't hesitate, please download it to have a try.