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Compared to other backup software, Veeam Backup & Replication has several formats to save and handle the backup files. As you can see in the Advanced Settings for each backup jobs there are different formats (or mode) where the files are saved:

  • Reversed incremental: the last file is a full version and past files are re-calculated as delta files.
  • Incremental: the first file is a full one and on each backup jobs is created a new delta file.
  • Incremental with synthetic full: similar to the previous but a new full file is periodically re-calculated.
  • Incremental with a single synthetic full: a mix of the reversed and the incremental, with only one full file.


Note that how the file are stored is not related on how the data is saved from the source: with CBT (and vStorage API) each transfer will be incremental from the previous backup.

As you can see in the second half of the tab, there is also an “archive full backup” option to make a real new full backup file by using the entire source, and not simply by re-calculating it form the other files (except the “pure” incremental mode, in all other cases the full file is simple recalculating).

But why there are several modes and which is the best? On Veeam v4 the default was the reversed incremental, now from v5 the incremental with synthetic fulls is the new default, as described in the Veeam post: Why is incremental the default in Backup and Replication v5?

As you can see from the previous schema, this kind of backup can minimize file changes (and also load on the backup engine when file must be stored). This could help when the destination is storage with deduplication (like for example a DataDomain) or a B2D2T policy is implemented. Of course the restore could be slower, especially in the Instant-Restore mode.

More information are also available on: Veeam Storage Best Practices.


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.