SQL SERVER – Select the Most Optimal Backup Methods for Server

Backup and Restore are very interesting concepts and one should be very much with the concept if you are dealing with production database. One never knows when a natural disaster or user error will surface and the first thing everybody wants is to get back on point in time when things were all fine. Well, in this article I have attempted to answer a few of the common questions related to Backup methodology.

How to Select a SQL Server Backup Type

In order to select a proper SQL Server backup type, a SQL Server administrator needs to understand the difference between the major backup types clearly. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me offer it to you below.

SQL SERVER - Select the Most Optimal Backup Methods for Server ftpbackup1%20(1)

Select a Recovery Model First

The very first question that you should ask yourself is: Can I afford to lose at least a little (15 min, 1 hour, 1 day) worth of data? Resist the temptation to save it all as it comes with the overhead – majority of businesses outside finances can actually afford to lose a bit of data.
If your answer is YES, I can afford to lose some data – select a SIMPLE (default) recovery model in the properties of your database, otherwise you need to select a FULL recovery model.
The additional advantage of the Full recovery model is that it allows you to restore the data to a specific point in time vs to only last backup time in the Simple recovery model, but it exceeds the scope of this article

Backups in SIMPLE Recovery Model

In SIMPLE recovery model you can select to do just Full backups or Full + Differential.

Full Backup

This is the simplest type of backup that contains all information needed to restore the database and should be your first choice. It is often sufficient for small databases, but note that it makes a big impact on the performance of your database

Full + Differential Backup

After Full, Differential backup picks up all of the changes since the last Full backup. This means if you made Full, Diff, Diff backup – the last Diff backup contains all of the changes and you don’t need the previous Differential backup. Differential backup is obviously smaller and carries less performance overhead

Backups in FULL Recovery Model

In FULL recovery model you can select Full + Transaction Log or Full + Differential + Transaction Log backup. You have to create Transaction Log backup, because at that time the log is being truncated. Otherwise your Transaction Log will grow uncontrollably.

Full + Transaction Log Backup

You would always need to perform a Full backup first. Then a series of Transaction log backup. Note that (in contrast to Differential) you need ALL transactions to log since the last Full of Diff backup to properly restore. Transaction log backups have the smallest performance overhead and can be performed often.

Full + Differential + Transaction Log Backup

If you want to ease the performance overhead on your server, you can replace some of the Full backup in the previous scenario with Differential. You restore scenario would start from Full, then the Last Differential, then all of the remaining transactions log backups

Typical backup Scenarios

You may say “Well, it is all nice – give me the examples now”. As you may already know, my favorite SQL backup software is SQLBackupAndFTP. If you go to Advanced Backup Schedule form in this program and click “Load a typical backup plan…” link, it will give you these scenarios that I think are quite common – see the image below.

SQL SERVER - Select the Most Optimal Backup Methods for Server ftpbackup1%20(2)

The Simplest Way to Schedule SQL Backups

I hate to repeat myself, but backup scheduling in SQL agent leaves a lot to be desired. I do not know the simple way to schedule your SQL server backups than in SQLBackupAndFTP – see the image below. The whole backup scheduling with compression, encryption and upload to a Network Folder / HDD / NAS Drive / FTP / Dropbox / Google Drive / Amazon S3 takes just a few minutes – see my previous post for the review.

SQL SERVER - Select the Most Optimal Backup Methods for Server ftpbackup1%20(3)

Final Words

This post offered an explanation for major backup types only. For more complicated scenarios or to research other options as usually go to MSDN.

Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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