As computers and hard drives become increasingly unreliable, experienced users try different backup software to insure them against data loss and system failure. Similar to all other types of software, one backup software package rarely fits all purposes and depending on the user's setting, several backup utilities may become necessary. For example, users often need one backup tool for their server appliance and one for each personal computer.

On the PC backup market, one may find various pc backup software providers with different strengths in each product. The typical PC user would want their system, application, and files backed up on a regular basis. Usually a simple disk image is enough but more advanced users with more files than the average user may want to invest in good file backup software.

Users with extraordinary large amounts of information may want to look into the backup compression features of their backup software. Compression usually works well on applications, text, PDF, word documents, system files, and other documents with a small noise ratio. Music and video generally do not compress well due to the nature of the information stored within.

Generally speaking, file backup and data backup are key ingredients of a server backup software package. More important than disk imaging on servers is the ability to handle files in configurable ways. A recent trend has been to skip disk imaging, or to limit it to system partitions, and to focus on more efficient ways to process files, since data files are the vast majority of data volumes stored on servers.

Disk imaging is critical on workstations since users rarely deploy file backup software to protect their data. Usually disk imaging is applied on an entire physical hard drive, but it can technically be applied to separate partitions as well, such as a single drive letter. The advantage of drive imaging is that it creates an exact byte-level copy of the information, including hidden file system information, such as residues of deleted files.

Virtual machine backup is a new phenomenon, such as the backup of a virtual machine in Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. To back up a virtual machine while running, specialized virtual backup software is needed that generates a VHD backup that is crash consistent. A simple VM backup script is usually not adequate.

In order to backup Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, the backup tool needs to aware and custom-made to fit into the limited operating system landscape created by Microsoft. Because Core Installations are very limited in their operating system features, regular tools will not work and specialized Hyper-V backup software needs to be purchased.

In general terms, virtual server backup does copy virtual server files and settings. To copy virtual machines, one needs to either take them offline from the virtual host server, or a dedicated backup software needs to be applied that works closely with the virtual host server system to access the underlying virtual disks.

USB backup software has become very popular due to the proliferation of external hard disks. External hard drive backups are beneficial even to small and medium-sized companies because the cost per gigabyte is generally very low and the transfer speeds are phenomenal, especially with the recent innovation of USB 3.0.
In order to minimize the space required for backups, users often deploy a differential backup strategy, which compares the current state of a hard drive to that of the first backup run. A differential backup can also be restored relatively quickly because it is generally applied after the first backup has been restored.

The latest innovation in the industry is delta compression, also known as file version differencing, which essentially reduces backup storage requirements to a bare minimum. Delta compression is applied in many areas but is has been predominantly popular on servers with high activity.

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