The invention of synthetic full backups is one of the most important advancements in backup technology in the last few decades, right up there witih disk-based backups, deduplication, continuous data protection (CDP), and the cloud.
Here’s how they came to be and an explanation of what benefits they might offer.
Traditional backup options
There are essentially two very broad categories of what the backup industry calls backup levels;
you are either backing up everything (full backup) or you are backing up only what has changed (incremental backup). There are different types of incremental backups, but that's really not relevant to this particular discussion. A typical set up runs incremental backups every night and full backups every week – or even less often than that.
Thanks to W. Curtis Preston (see source)