Backup only doing incremental RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have (5) 2TB USB drives that I backup about 1.5TB of data.  Drives are for each day of the work week (Monday through Friday).  I have it backing up system state, full bare metal, and volumes C and E.

    When first creating the backup I noticed it did full-backups, however for over a week now it's only been doing incremental on volumes C & E.

    I went under configuration performance and set them manually to do a full backup however it's still only doing incremental.

    My concern is if the server crashes and I have to do a full restore, how can I get to the data for C & E since all 5 drives are incremental backups?

    Can someone explain to me how this process works in regards to the WSB application?

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 12:15 PM

All replies

  • Hello,

    May I ask you why you want to do full backups daily? I'm simply asking because it takes up way more space than needed. Weekly full and daily incrementals are pretty much standard, even for image-level backups.

    The following thread might explain why it says incremental:
    How Can I Force Full Backups

    You could also use the Windows Server Backup command-line (wbadmin) instead:


    wbadmin start backup -AllCritical -systemState -backupTarget:G: -vssFull -quiet

    Best regards,

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    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 12:51 PM
  • Thanks for the reply.  I will check out the link you provided.  Like I said I am concerned because I only have 5 drives and right now all 5 drives show incremental in their latest backups.  If the server were to go down and I had to do a restore, how would I get the data back from the E: volume since, like I said all showing incremental?
    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:50 PM
  • So from reading your link this is what I can gather.  Even though it says incremental it's only backing up the changed data from the previous drive/backup?  It's still a full backup?

    From their quote: "Incremental here means that it will save you time by simply backing up from what is different from previous backup. It combines the resulting data and stores single version. It will offer to restore all your backed up data when you try to restore i.e full backup data."

    Like I said I have 5 drives, labeled Monday through Friday.  So for example today is Tuesday, will it back up only what was changed since Monday or the drive from last Tuesday?

    If that's the case and the server decides to quit and I have to do a bare metal restore, how is it possible to bring back that data?  

    I'm totally confused.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 7:30 PM
  • Easiest to see is the size of the backup, how big is the size of monday's backup vs tuesday's backup?

    If tuesday's backup is smaller than monday's backup, then Windows Server Backup has most likely only backed up the changes since monday.

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    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 7:41 PM
  • Hi ,

    If a full backup was performed on Monday, Tuesday's incremental will take a snapshot and back up all new or changed files since Monday's backup. However, Wednesday's incremental will only back up files that have changed since Tuesday's incremental backup and so on until another full backup is performed.

    Here is a article talking about Incremental Backup ,you might have a look:

    Incremental Backup

    Please Note: Since the web site is not hosted by Microsoft, the link may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.

    WSB will provide you with a list of potential backups you could restore to. You could choose:

    The full backup taken on the Monday - which would restore your machine and all files to the state as of that day.

    The incremental backup of the Tuesday - which would restore to that day.

    The incremental backup of the Wednesday.

    The incremental backup of the Thursday.

    The incremental backup of the Friday.

    You need all the backups, back to the most recent full backup. If you want to restore to the Friday, not only do you need the full backup taken on the Monday to be available, but you also need all the incremental backups taken in between. That implies that if any of the incremental backups are lost or corrupt, then you won't be able to restore past the date of the that just prior to the failure.

    Best Regards,


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    Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:57 AM
  • Hi Candy,

      Thank you for the reply. That is the issue I am having.  I created the backup sets 3 weeks ago.  Since after the first week, every drive has been an incremental backup, there has not been any full backups since.  I've very concerned if I had a server crash that I would not get any data back because there has not been any full backups done.

      I have it configured to perform full backups on the volumes, however it refuses to do that.  Any advice?

    Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:12 PM
  • Are you able to test your backups to check that they are in fact full backups? Backups should be tested every now and then to make sure they actually do work.

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    Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:41 PM
  • I was able to restore a file that I know wasn't changed about 3 days ago and used the most recent backup.  This is what is confusing me.  Last night it showed it did a full backup on volume C (like it always does) but volume E shows incremental and only backing up about 4GB out of 500GB of data.
    Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:36 PM
  • I've encountered strange behavior from Windows Server Backup (WSB) before, what are your performance settings?

    Right-click Local Backup -> then click on Configure Performance Settings.

    Have you set everything to Full backup?

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    Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:40 PM
  • Yes.. That's the way I have it configured.  It's does a full backup on Volume C: and Recovery but Volume E: only shows incremental.  Been this way for two weeks now.  Very concerned.
    Friday, August 16, 2019 3:46 PM
  • The "Normal backup performance" is also a Full backup, during this backup operation, Windows transfers all the contents of the volume being backed up, but the space used on the backup storage location is only for the changed blocks on the source.

    Could you try using this option?

    Also note the following:

    Choosing the option to create incremental backups does not stop full backups. To reduce the risk of data loss associated with disk corruption, Windows Server Backup automatically creates a full backup when both of the following conditions are true: 

    • 14 incremental backups have occurred since the last full backup.
    • More than 14 days have passed since the last full backup.

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    Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:35 PM
  • Still only doing incremental after changing it to Normal Backup Performance.  Been two weeks now without a full backup.  Any other suggestions?  
    Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:39 AM
  • Strange indeed, what if you try running a backup by using the wbadmin command-line? Check if it does a full backup.

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    Tuesday, August 20, 2019 1:10 PM
  • Hi ,

    Just want to confirm the current situations.

    Please feel free to let us know if you need further assistance.                   

    Best Regards,


    Please remember to mark the replies as an answers if they help.
    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact   

    Monday, August 26, 2019 4:31 AM
  • Sorry.. I am still here.  It's still showing incremental.  Where could I find the parameters for the command-line?
    Tuesday, August 27, 2019 11:47 AM
  • In my initial reply I showed an example of a command you can use, for the command-line reference you can check here: wbadmin

    Let us know how it goes!

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    Tuesday, August 27, 2019 12:03 PM
  • The command line doesn't allow me to do scheduled backups.  Any other advice?  I run a few other servers and all are backing up full like I have them setup to be except this one.
    Wednesday, August 28, 2019 8:11 PM
  • No it won't do scheduled updates, you would have to create scheduled tasks for it (that's the only way).

    I was just curious to see the behavior of the command-line, so we could try to eliminate some factors.

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    Wednesday, August 28, 2019 8:14 PM
  • I will do that Tuesday, I took off until then.  It's a production server.
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 7:31 PM
  • I didn't get a chance to do the command line yet, however it finally did a full backup on August 30th.  So it seems like it was a 2 week period.  This has to be changed somehow since I am not going to purchase 14 external drives.
    Tuesday, September 3, 2019 2:36 PM