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Are Mirror Backups Worth Using?

There are different types of backup; the scope, format, regularity, and so on. These are all variables that create a different type of backup plan.

We’re going to explore a mirror backup. You can perhaps guess what that means from its name. A mirror backup is an exact 1 to 1 copy of the folders and files on your drive. This means literally everything on your drive – not only your personal data like photos and videos, but also the important files that run the operating system and your installed programs too.

With mirror backup, when you delete something from the source, it also removes it from the backup. Both the source and the backup are the same all the time.

Usually a mirror backup consolidates all this data into a compressed format, which you can then use to restore from in a disaster.

Some other types of backup include full, incremental and differential. Mirror backup isn’t commonly used for reasons we’ll explore shortly, but it does have its place.

The primary benefit of a mirror backup is you know literally everything is captured. You don’t have to worry about scrambling for that obscure installation disc because all the necessary files have been captured on the backup.

Mirror backups are often smaller than other types too, due to their compression, which makes them relatively quick to run and handy to store on portable media like external hard drives.

The first time you run a mirror backup is when it’ll take the longest. After that, only new or modified files are backed up. That makes sense, since most files on your system won’t be changing and it makes no sense to keep syncing them.

Services that offer a mirror backup usually have a retention setting for data that is removed from the source. This means that if you accidentally get rid of a file, or decide you need it back a week later, it’ll be stored somewhere for you to retain. This is because a genuine mirror backup – where that data should technically be removed immediately – is too high risk when human error exists.

One of the major downsides to mirror backup is that your data isn’t password protected or encrypted. In a world where data theft is on the rise, it’s a major problem to not be able to keep your data secure.

In all, mirror backup is rarely used in the real-world in its default state. While many businesses will keep live syncs of their data from production to backup, the fact that accidental or purposeful deletions rips the data from both is too high risk. That’s why a hybrid solution is better, one that employs multiple data backup techniques to provide the highest redundancy.

It’s common to follow the 3-2-1 backup rule. This means that you store your data in three places, on two types of storage, with one of those copies kept off-site. Follow this rule at a minimum if you’re serious about keeping your data safe and protected from failure.


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