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Questions about ATI option “Create Only Differential versions after the initial Full Backup Versionv

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1 Questions about a Differential Backup approach with the ATI option “Create Only Differential versions after the initial full version”
I would like to be sure
• that the approach described below for my use of Versions 2018 and 2020 of Acronis True Image (ATI) is a valid and supported use of ATI
• and that I will therefore not get problems when I will eventually need to use my ATI Backups to recover Partitions and/or Folders.

My Objective is to use a Differential Backup Scheme and to decide myself (based for example on the size of the most recent Differential Backup Version and/or on the time that was required to create the most recent Differential Backup Version) when it will be again reasonable to create a new Full Backup Version. Also I would like to take myself the decision (vs. a decision taken by an algorithm) which old Backup Versions shall be discarded.

Therefore, originally I was interested in the following approach: (“Approach 1”)
a. I will use the ATI Differential scheme and will select the Option “Create Only Differential versions after the initial full version”.
b. When I will wish to create again a Full Backup Version, I will define again (and then use) a similar new Backup
I believe, that this approach will work.

What surprised me (but this is probably not a problem), when choosing the Option “Create Only Differential Versions after the initial Full Version”, ATI changed my specifiucation of “Differential scheme” to “custom Scheme”.

I therefore asked myself, since the scheme is now a “Customer Scheme”, whether I could use the following approach (“Approach 2”):
a. For a Differential Backup defined with the option “Create Only Differential versions after the initial full version”, after a couple of “Differential Backup Versions” can I change at my discretion the “Backup Method” for the next Backup Version from “Differential” to “Full” and hereby create for the same Backup a second Full Backup Version?
b. And then, later on, after the creation of the second Full Backup Version, can I change again the Backup Method from “Full” to “Differential”?

It is my impression that the above approach could work without problems wit ATI, since it is close to an ATI Differential Scheme; the exception being that the next Full Backup Versions is not created after a predetermined, specifiable but fixed number (but instead after a variable number) of differential Backup versions.

Approach 2 has over Approach 1 the following advantages:
• I will not need to create again and again (every time, that I want to create a new Full Backup Version) a new Backup Defition (something that can be error-Prone);
• Over the time, the “Activity” Reports of ATI will be cluttered with many Backup Definitions; this can be confusing and result in human/usere errors.

I tested a little bit “Approach 2” and I have the impression (but as a layman I can not be sure) that this approach will function.

Question 1: can I be sure, that “Approach 2” is a legitimate and fully supported method to use ATI 2018 and 2020?
Question 2: Can I be sure that I will be able (if needed) to recover my Disk to the state of any of the Full Backup Versions and/or to the state of any Differential Backup Versions that I have created with Approach 2?

2 Questions about an Incremental Backup approach with the ATI option « Create Only Incremental versions after the initial full version”

Question 3: Is what I described/asked above about a “Differential Schemes” (with the Option “Create Only Differential versions after the initial full version”) , also valid for an “Incremental Scheme” (with the Option “Create Only Incremental versions after the initial full version”)?

3 Questions about Cloning a Volume containing ATI Backup Versions
For the case of a Fire that will destroy my home and for the case of burglars who will steal all my PC equipment (including the USB disk that contains my ATI Backup Versions): I would like to store sporadically an USB Disk that contains my ATI Backup Versions into the safe of My Bank (not into a Cloud).

Question 4: Is my guess correct, that for that purpose,
• I could use the Disk Cloning Support of ATI to create a copy of the volume containing my ATI Backups in order to store that copy into the safe on My Bank.
• And that later on, if the “Original” Disk that contains my ATI Backup Versions get stolen or destroyed, I could use the Copy/Clone as if it would be the “Original” Disk containing my ATI Backups?

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Robert, in terms of ATI 2018, you have more flexibility in how backups are created and changed / copied etc. 

Personally, I would not use any scheme where only one Full backup was created and then only either differential or incremental backups are used forever.
For differential schemes, if you have a reasonable degree of change happening, it is likely that your new differential backups will soon be of a similar size to the full backup or greater size.
For incremental schemes, there is added risk with long chains of files where a single corrupted or bad file will break the chain from that point forwards.

When dealing with ATI 2020, there are now added dependencies to consider between all the files in one or more backup chains, such that it is now much more difficult to change the backup settings or move any of the files etc.

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From Robert via a PM instead of in the forum.

Yes, I share your opinion, that creating just one Full Backup version followed uniquely by Differential Backup versions or followed uniquely by Incremental Backup versions is not what I should look for.

My problem is the following: I am not able to foresee, if it will be after 10, or after 20,  or after... Differential or Incremental Backup Versions  that it will be reasonable to create again a Full Backup Versions (the Full Backup Version of my F: SSD has a size of round 800 GB). I can not afford to  create a Full Backup Version after just 5 or 10 weekly Differential Backups.; this is especially true, because I wish to keep around all my backup versions for around 3 or 5 years,. 

To take the decision, whether it is time to create again a new Full Backup Version, I must see how large the latest Differential Backup is and should know how much time that latest Differential Backup Version took. It is not a relative primitive algorithm (e.g. "again a Full Backup after 5 differential Backups") that can make a relatively reasonable decision; but it is me who must be take that decision.

My question is therefore: Even if I specified in the Disk Backup Options "Create only Differential Versions after the initial full version", can I be sure, that eventually (for example after creating 15 Differential Versions) the specification of a "Full " Version in the "Backup Method." Field will not  result in any problem?

I have made a limited number of tests to see if that (= the specification of a “Full” Version in the “Backup Method field” after creating 15 Differential Versions) will function. The results of my limited number of tests did not show any problem. But I am a layman and would like to get assured by specialists, that this specification will not eventually result in problems, for example when I will need to make a recovery.

Thank you very much in advance for your assistance

Robert, to reply to any forum topic, simply scroll down until you see the empty text edit box, type in your reply, then scroll a little further and click on the SAVE button.

Some comments / observations:

Differential backups will always be increasing in size by virtue of what this type of backup is, i.e. capturing all changes since the initial Full backup for the chain was created.  Hence, each new differential duplicates the changes captured by the prior differential as well as capturing new changes.

Given your stated starting size for your F: SSD of approx 800GB, then you will already be starting with a very large initial Full backup file unless the data on this drive can be highly compressed.  The size of any differential backups will then depend on the frequency of change on the drive along with the type of data involved.

Only you can advise on the above and the size of data that will be involved, but if it very large, then incremental backups may be better suited.

What is the size of backup drive that will be used for these backup chains as this is also a factor that will determine how many backups can be stored?

Once you can determine the above, you should also be able to decide how to set the number of differential or incremental backups before creating a new full one.  This then brings up a comment about 'Automatic cleanup' for this backup task.  Your destination drive needs to be able to store all the above backups, including differential or incremental as well as the full backups they were based from, plus one further full backup.  ATI does not remove any older backup chains until after that latest new full backup is created successfully.

The key caution here is to not change the backup task configuration settings to alter the number of backups created without expecting those changes to have potential side effects.  Better to set them correctly the first time and if changes are needed, to create a new backup task with the new settings and suspend or delete the previous task.

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Robert, you say you want to keep you backups for 3 to 5 years. Given that, do you have a need to restore to any specific day? What I am getting at is the idea of doing a full backup only on a periodic basis (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?) and consider these the ones that provide your long term backup.

Use a second backup task using either differential or incremental for recent backups.

A lot depends on you disk space and potential recovery needs. Be sure to understand the relationships between different .tibx files in a backup chain if you end up copying backup files to an offsite drive.

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Further comment to Steve here.

You say the total data on your SSD is 800GB.  How much of this data actually changes and how often does the data change is key here.

If the majority of this data does not change say folders of pictures or videos then simply having a backup or two of those folders should suffice to protect that data.  Data that changes frequently then should be your primary target for regular backup using either a differential or an incremental scheme with incremental conserving the most disk space.

So what I am saying here is make a Full disk backup to a storage medium.  Make a copy of that backup to a secondary location and if possible create yet a third copy of the backup to a third location.  After this develop folder/file backup tasks that target the frequently changing data on disk set to a schedule and method you deem appropriate.  Setup correctly such tasks will periodically consolidate to a Full which then can be copied to additional locations as described above.  Older backups can be replaced by these copies on any basis you desire.

This should accomplish your goals and enhance the performance of True Image in creating backups for you.

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Thank you to All of you for your answers/feedback.
My apologies to you: I will need some time to come back on that subject...but I will come back..

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Thank you very much to all of You who provided me feedback and hints.


My apologies: my questions and objectives have probably not been formulated sufficiently clearly. It is probably for that reason, that I got feedback but did not got an answer to my questions..I therefore need to come back and explain and formulate more clearly my questions (and my objectives).


  1. I will first describe my objectives
  2. then I sketch the solution that I am interested in
  3. then I will formulate my questions related to that solution


  1. My objectives

My objectives are the following:

I would like to use ATI 2020 for the backup of my USB 3.1 Gen 1 SSD that contains 800 GB worth of Photo files. I will store the ATI Backup on local 6TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Backup Disks.


The approach should work both for ATI “File and Folder Backups” and for ATI “Volume/Partition Backups-”


Description of my objectives in more details:

  1. The Backup  should be based on a Differential or an Incremental Backup Schema,
  2. I want to be the one who decides when to create again a Full Backup Version after the creation of a series of Incremental or Differential Backup Versions.

Note: An automated approach that is based on creating a new Full Backup Version after a fixed number( for example 5, or 10, or 20, or…) of Differential/Incremental Backup Versions is not sufficiently smart and will waste a lot of Disk space on my Backup Disks. This is  not acceptable to me.
Instead I need to take myself the decision when its time to create again a Full Backup version. For that decision I need to take into account  (among other)

  1. the size of the previous Differential/Incremental Backup Versions
  2. the time required to create the previous Differential/Incremental Backups
  3. Ideally (but I am not able to do it), I should also be able to estimate and take into account the time for a Recovery (and also the probability of the risks, that something gets wrong)
  1. I also want to be the one, who decides when old Backup Versions shall be deleted (Probably I will want to keep around most Backup Versions created in the last 2 or 3 years). This requires of course a lot of large Backup Disks


  1. Sketch of the solution, that I am looking at
  1. I intend to create a Differential (or an Incremental)  Backup Scheme, and I will select the following ATI Backup Option:

 “Create Only Differential (or Incremental) versions after the initial full version”,


A detail: I noticed, that when doing so ATI changes my specification in the “Backup Scheme” field  from “Differential” or “Incremental” to “Custom”.


  1. Based on my Backup Definitions, ATI will first create a Full Backup Version. Eventual  Backup Versions will be  “Differential” (or “Incremental”)  Backup Versions.


  1. When I will eventually decide that the time has come to create again a Full Backup Version, I will do the following
  1. Within the ATI Options, I will change the value of “Backup method” field from “Differential” (or from “Incremental”) to “Full”,
  2. I will then start the creation of the next Backup Version (this will be a Full Backup Version) by Clicking on “Backup Now”
  3. And then, I will change back the value “Backup method” field from “Full” to “Differential” (or to “Incremental”).
  1. My Questions related to the above Solution

I made a number of Backup tests, and what I described above in section2 Sketch of the solution, that I am looking at…about changing back and forth the value of the “Backup method” field…and this seemed to work.


3 Questions: Can you please tell me, 

  1. Whether what I described above in section2 Sketch of the solution, that I am looking at… about changing back and forth the value of the “Backup method” field is really supported by ATI 2020 and by the Acronis company,
  2. whether I can be sure, that I will eventually be able to perform successful recoveries to any of the many Point-in-Time of the many Differential/Incremental Versions  and Full Backup Versions created over time with the method described above ? 

Thank ypou very much in yadvance for your answers


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Robert, if your key requirement here is for your 800 GB worth of Photo files to be backed up to your local 6TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Backup Disks, then personally I would be considering not using ATI at all!

My reason for saying this is that most Photo files are already highly compressed, therefore there is very little to be gained by ATI attempting to compress these when storing them in either a .tibx or .tib file, and the resulting backup file could potentially be larger than the source!

You may want to consider using a synchronisation program to manage the changes to your files, and look for one that will allow for versioning of changed files (which the free applications are unlikely to offer).

The Acronis Sync feature of ATI doesn't work with local external drives - it has to be between 2 different PC's or else to the Acronis Cloud.

ATI is better suited to backing up your OS and applications on the computer you are using for your photo processing.

Another option to consider would be to see if you can identify how many of your photo files have remained unchanged for a significant period of time, and whether you could separate them into a more static backup location, then find the best solution to manage the files which are changing more often.

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First, when ATI changes your backup scheme to "Custom", that only means that you are making changes.Nothing to be concerned about.

Second, it has been requested that ATI have the ability to "Start a new chain now", meaning make a new Full in a Differential or Incremental backup. When or if that happens is an unknown, but a lot of us would like that.

As for question 1, that's not a documented method to achieve the objective. But on the other hand, if ATI allows these changes to be made in a backup task then it should be considered a supported operation.

As long as you keep chains intact, you should be OK on recovery. How you choose between running File and Folder vs Disk and Partition backups can have an effect. If you use the Disk and Partition backup, there is linkage between the backup versions and this could present issues, especially since you will have multiple backup disks so you won't be able to have the entire chain of backups online together.

You are probably better off with File/Folder backups which create .tib files. That way, if you have a Full with its subsequent diffs or incs, you should be OK on recovery.

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Personally I favor Steve's suggestion here.  Reason is that it will be much more efficient in disk usage, far less computer resource intensive, and far less intrusive to your user experience.  On top of all that it will meet or possibly exceed you objective which of course is the whole point.

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Thank you very much for your very useful and competent answer and feedback.


In the next couple of weeks, I will follow your advice to try and use File/Folder backups. But first, I need to focus on other problems wiuh my Windows 10 PC (Windows 10 is quite new to me) that are not related to Acronis before taking the time to test (including performing primitive performance tests) File/Folder Backups.


Based on the quality of your feedback/help, I hope/guess that you have good contacts to Acronis developers. If that is the case: could you please describe them that, perhaps, it will not be very difficult for them to support the option “Start a new chain now” that others have requested….Since this is quite similar” to what I described in my previous posts …and that seems to work in my simple (and of course quite incomplete) tests?


Based on your answer, I will try use meanwhile a probably/hopefuly riskless variation of what I described in my previous posts of this thread:

  1. I will use Differential and/or Incremental Backups with the officially supported option “ Create Only Differential (or Incremental) versions after the initial full version                    “
  2. Whenever I will wish to create again a Full Backup Version, I will create a new Backup Definition, which will (of course) start with a Full Backup version.

The disadvantage of that work-around solution: I will have a lot of Backups definitions (one additional Backup every time that I wish to create again a Full Backup version) and that makes it a little bit annoying to keep a compact/good overview of all my  Backup Versions. But with a reasonable Backup-Naming convention (that can include the date of the creation of the Backup), I will be able to live quite reasonably with it.

Thank You again for your feedback/answer that guided me excellently in my use of ATI.


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Hello Steve, Hello Enchantec

“Not using ATI at all” as Steve suggested and Enchantec supported?
Are you kidding with that suggestion and with the suggestion to use instead a Synch Tool?


It has never been part of my Backup objectives to try to have backup versions of my photo files, that are substantially better compressed then the original jpeg files… which are already quite well compressed. Also despite what Enchantec wrote, I have no problems with the moderate (a compliment to Acronis for that) computer resource intensivity of ATI on my modern PC and I did not have up to now the impression that ATI is intrusive to my user experience.

The reason, why I asked concrete question on this thread was that I needed information to use efficiently ATI …Concrete Questions that both of you preferred to ignore while providing instead useless delirious recommendations. Looking forward to get in future a better support.

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“Not using ATI at all” as Steve suggested and Enchantec supported?
Are you kidding with that suggestion and with the suggestion to use instead a Synch Tool?

No, not kidding here - none of the MVP's are Acronis employees or paid by them - we are just users and our aim is to try to provide help & advise based on what might work best for the user, not necessarily Acronis.

If you look in these forums for other users coming with issues around dealing with very large photo collections, you will see similar advice being offered.

I applaud your dedication to using Acronis for managing your photos and have no issues with supporting you to do so, but in many ways it will increase your storage requirements, especially if using a Differential scheme.

All Differential backups capture all changes since the initial Full backup was created, so your initial backup of 800GB is stored in the Full backup file, then if you create one Differential a week to capture say 1GB of changes per week, then the first Diff will be 1GB, the second 2GB, third 3GB etc where the changes are accumulated into each new file.

Any data protection scheme should embrace all the available methods that match the needs of that scheme, so using ATI alongside other methods is not a case of either or, but of increasing the protection of your data.

Personally, I use ATI for local, NAS and Cloud backups, but I also use Synology Cloud Drive to sync my important data both with the NAS and some of my other computers.

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Again I concur with Steve here.  When it comes to already compressed data such as photos, videos, etc., you are much better off to have exact copies of such data than to have that data housed in a proprietary container that you must manipulate to get at that data.

If you apply the principle I mentioned earlier in this thread of having 3 copies of this data, each on independent media, and each stored securely, then if one copy becomes inaccessible for any reason that data is immediately available by attaching the other medium or connecting to the data in the case of off site storage.

This is a much more efficient way of protecting this type of data.  With 500GB SSD's as cheap as they are now if I were in your position I would get two 500GB SSD's, divide up this photo collection in a logical manner, and copy it to those drives, then place them in safe storage for good keeping.  I might also consider housing copies in the cloud.  

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Steve, What I will appreciate in future, is to get answers to my questions (answers that in this particular case, I got from BrunoC).


Getting advices that I did not solicit and that in addition do not apply to my case is juste a waste of time. For example: for the SDD with my photos I use incremental Backups and not differential Backups (for my other disks where i have nearly no photo files, this is different) and I do not need advices on that subject. Also I have no NAS and do not use any Cloud for any backup. And I have only one PC (at least at this time; if I will have later have an additiponal PC, then I will not use NAS or Clouds for sharing photos between the PCs)..



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Robert, the MVPs on this forum do not have good contacts (or really any contacts) with the developers. We are just users trying to help. When someone posts questions, we try to understand their needs and help with getting the best solution. For many, this can be doing something they hadn't thought about before, hence Steve's and Enchantech's suggestions.

One more thing I was thinking about in your case. Do your photo files change? That is, are you editing them (e.g. Photoshop) such that you may want to go back to prior versions before some editing process. What I'm getting at is... are individual files evolving over time? I'm guessing they are.

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Hello BrunoC

Thank you for your Post.

What I am using to edit my photos is Adobe "Photoshop Elements" (=PSE), not  Adobe "Photoshop",

I use PSE  in combination with the outstanding "Filters" (i.e. with exit routines) of NIK/Google.

With PSE and PSE filters, an edit of a photo File does not result in a change to the source  Photo file,  but in a new/additional version of the photo file that is typically stored in the same Folder as the Source file. 

A detail, that I am not sure about:  whether a PSE edit results in a change of the Metadata of the ortiginal photo. 

In my case (I think, that this is a typical case for PSE users who are not sporadical PSE users),  I want to keep both the Source/Original of an edited Foto and the edited versions (in order to be able to edit in future either the original or the edited version,  for example with new/future/additional filters)  ...this will result in new additional versions/files. 

For some photos, I have only an poriginal version of the photo. For other photos, I have an original and one or more edited versions.

It happens often, that  within the same year or after many years  I edit again a second or third time an old foto. (either the original file or an edited version).


By the way: In contrast to ATI 2018, I encountered with ATI 2020 severe problems with the Backup of the large amount of my foto files. I am still testing a little bit to provide additional documentation.

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Thanks for posting the additional information.

Any changes to data on disk results in changes to metadata.  You explain that once you edit a second file is created.  This repeats with every edit.

In this use case it appears to me that you are doubling your data amount with each edit at a minimum besides changes in metadata which means the new file created would require metadata updates. 

If you perform a lot of these edits then you are changing the data on disk in a lot of ways.  Depending on how large these photo files are would dictate the total amount of data being added so I assume that this is the reason for the behavior you see and that behavior is to be expected in my opinion.

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My apologies: I messed up and answered the Post of Enchantec in the following other Thread


I understand that this is confusing and would like to apologize for this error.

I copied below the freedback that I provided in that other thread:


Hello Enchantec

I am not sure to understand, -to ***which*** behavior you refer when writing” so I assume that this is the reason for ****the behavior you see ****and that behavior is to be expected in my opinion     “ .

I guess and assume, that this is the”behavior you see”  which I described in   [the other Thread].

The Behavior that I described in [thre other thread], is not the result of a large number of recently performed Photo-Editing. Because  since beginning of around the 20th of December,  I have done only very few Photo editing.

But I can not exclude that one or another Software that got installed on my new Windows 10 PC is playing games with my many many photo files and/or with their Mettadata. For example the Block Tracking of ATI 2020; or the Bonjour software that ATI 2020 installed on my PC (and that I eventually deinstalled) , or a Photo Software that got installed together with the support of my new Epson Perfection V370 Photo Scanner, or with a new Canon Lide Scanner that I had to return), or the Trim Functionality of Windows 10, or…

What is however sure: on my new Windos 10 PC I did not see that “show-stopping” behavior

  • when using  ATI 2018 (only for a couple of weeks –my use of ATI 20xx is quite new
  • and before the first Trim of my SSDs with Windows 10.
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Reply posted in your other Thread