By Yuka / Last update July 5, 2022

Does built-in Windows 7 backup perform differential backups?

"I have win 7 scheduled to backup every month, it's only looking at one of my drives at the moment and is backing up to an external HDD. It's a 1TB drive so should take quite a while to fill but the amount of time the backup takes makes me think its taking a fresh copy every time. I did a full backup last month. Is it copying the whole lot again? Or is it just taking its time checking for differences? (It says, COPYING files in G:\)."

Windows 7 Backup Differential

As a matter of fact, the built-in software creates full backup and then incremental backups. In this situation, Windows 7 backup taking forever,  it seems that this software is checking the changes you made since last backup and the time varies because of this. And usually, the first backup takes a long time and then the subsequent backups will be much faster.

Windows 7 Incremental or Differential Backup 

Both incremental backup amd differential backup are backup methods based on full backup and they all backs up only changed files. But there are some differences between them:

  Incremental Backup Differential Backup
Backup definition backup only changes since last backup, either full backup or incremental backup.  backup only changed files since last full backup. 
Backup links all the incremental backups are linked together, one cannot be without the other.  every differential backup is independent, and the last version contains all the changes in a full backup.   
Backup Speed the first backup will take longer and then faster.  all the backups are relatively slow. 
Recovery requires one full backup and all the linked incremental backup. And the speed is quite slow. require one full backup and any of differential backup, preferably the latest one, with a much faster speed. 

In simple word, the biggest advantages of Windows 7 incremental backup is less backup time and faster speed. While for differential backup, the biggest advantage is its integrity and independence, thereby improving the restore speed and its success rate. From an overall perspective, it's suggested to try differential backup if you take data security into serious consideration. 

How to create differential backup in Windows 7

Since Windows built-in tool does not support creating a differential backup, you need to use a third-party Windows 7 differential backup software for help. AOMEI Backupper Professional is a great option. No matter what you want to include in a backup, it can meet your needs.

With its help, you can create system backup, disk backup, file backup, partition backup, and backup only changed files with differential backup. At the same time, you can run it as a scheduled task in daily, weekly, monthly, or use event trigger and USB plug in. 

Then, follow the steps below and create differential backup in Windows 7:

1. Download AOMEI Backupper and run it to go to the main interface. Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista supported. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

2. Click “Backup”, then choose a type of backup. Here it is "System Backup".

System Backup

3. For system backup, you do not have to select what to include in the backup as the program will do it automatically. All you need to do is to select a location that is detected in File Explorer to save the backup image.

Select Path

4. Click “Schedule Backup” and enable it, then decide when or how you want the backup to start.

The previous 4 options require you to connect the external hard drive every time before the task start. To free you from repetitive work, try USB plug in feature. It will backup Windows 7 automatically when USB drive connected.

Schedule Backup

5. Then, click “Backup Scheme” under it and then select "Differential Backup". The default option is to create one full backup and then 6 differential backups, you can change the number of it. 

Backup Methods

You can also enable Automatic Backup Cleanup and select one of the following options to automatically delete the old backups.

★ By quantity: You can input the number of the backup sets you want to keep and then it will delete old backups after exceeding the specified value. By default, one backup set is 1 full backup and 6 incremental backup or 1 full backup and 6 differential backup if you don't change it. 

★ By time: You can set the number of backups based on daily, weekly or monthly. When it exceeds the number, all the previous backups will be deleted. 

★ By daily/weekly/monthly: You can keep all the backups within several days, and then only keep full backups if the set number of days exceeds, finally when the set number of weekly exceeds, all the backups will be deleted except for one full backup every month. 

Scheme

6. When all is well set, click “Start Backup” to run the backup job. It will create one full backup and then 6 differential backups by default.

Start Backup

★Tip:
If you have already gotten a full backup, you can also manually start to run a Windows 7 differential backup in the Home tab.

Conslusion

In conclusion, AOMEI Backupper can help you easily create Windows 7 differential backup with only a few clicks. It's better than full and incremental backups and helps you save disk space. You also don't have to worry about accidentally deleting one of the differential backups. As long as you have the last full backup and any of differential backup, you can easily restore your files.

Besides, it also provides you with other powerful functions such as Clone, Sync and Tools. You can use it to migrate OS to SSD/HDD, etc. With its help, you can easily protect your data and operating system.