They work…but I think incremental backups are a pain in the butt.
Many people think they’re a smart idea because it saves time and space. And while that’s true, I think most people have no idea what the ramifications are later down the line when you need to restore something.
Comparing FULL backups to INCREMENTAL backups
- Back everything up in one clean package.
- Easy to restore.
- Easy to give to someone else.
- Easy to know which versions of files went with which files.
- If you recognize a problem with a site (broken code or hacked site), you have many full version archives to choose from.
- Backs up only the parts that changed.
- The restores are reliant on having a full archive somewhere.
- Messy to understand which versions of things are restored.
- Messy to mix versions of your site.
- Might save bad/corrupted versions of your files since they are most recent.
Imagine your client goes down and has only incremental backups. Now you gotta carefully piece things together. All while they’re screaming down your neck that they’re losing money. Not worth it. S3 is so cheap!
When should you ever do incremental backups?
This is the part this pisses me off the most. It’s when people going around digging up solutions for problems they don’t have. (And in doing that…creating new problems.)
The only good reasons for using incremental backups:
- Your site is so huge that backing up the whole thing takes forever or eats up too much space.
- You have unreliable infrastructure/network and need to back up a lot…(like every couple hours).
Being that S3 storage is so damn cheap, there really is no excuse for not having space. Likewise, I don’t see the point of backing up your site every hour. If losing a few hours of database entries doesn’t cost you that much…don’t go through the risk of incremental backups. They will be a pain in the butt to restore or have clean version-compare later.
You have been warned!
What about plugins that handle all incrementals for you?
- I’m aware of WPTimeCapsule. It looks great. But what happens if the site is broken and you can’t even get into the WP-admin?
- If these incremental backup plugins can use a cloud service that OUTPUTS a full backup archive based on your incrementals…that’s the only way I would ever consider it. And I’m speaking from experience of doing many emergency restores.