Grandfather Father Son (GFS) vs. Progressive Backup

Along with physical media failure, one of the 2 leading cause of critical data loss is human error. Without the proper experience and training, it is easy to make mistakes that will land your company in trouble. One important step is to have multiple backup versions. If the previous night’s backup version is corrupted, undesirable or unavailable, you can load an earlier version from a previous date.

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Grandfather Father Son GFS Backup

One of the most commonly-used backup rotation schemes is the Grandfather Father Son (GFS) paradigm. Employing this system, a company will make a full backup on Day 1, and then changes are copied over at the end of each day. These “Generation 1″ backups will become the Son in the GFS cycle. This rotation will continue for seven days until a new full backup is generated. Each of the full backups becomes the Father in the cycle. A typical rotation example would be where a company keeps seven daily Son backups and four weekly Father backups per month. At this point the second generation backup cycle begins.

Finally, a monthly full archival backup snapshot is generated for long-term retention. These are known as the Grandfathers.

Progressive Backup

The Progressive Backup approach is often called incremental forever or differential incremental backup . Progressive Backup requires only one full backup on the first day, and then no new full backups are ever required in the future. From day one forward only incremental data blocks are copied and stored. This approach is superior to the GFS approach as it requires much less storage and needs much shorter backup windows, can be completely automated and greatly reduces data redundancy. In this approach, a company has daily backups which go back 31 days and off-line monthly backups going back many years.

Incremental backups can be automated over the internet using trained professionals at a very attractive price point. At the same time, companies save money by freeing up in-house IT time for more productive activities, while also eliminating the cost and pitfalls associated with manual manipulation and shipping of backup tapes outside for storage.

For more information on Grandfather, Father, Son (GFS) Backup versus Differential Incremental Backup, watch this short video below.

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