I need to choose software for network backup (this is not a software recommendation question).

I wonder if there are accepted standards for incremental or differential backups, so different software can backup and restore files without conflicts (like conflicts caused by different encoding standards or file formats).

Otherwise, there is a "good practice" to let other people know how to restore the information inside the backup?

I would like to avoid/ease a situation like "somebody doesn't know what software made the backup, and needs to restore a file", or "the network administrator decided to unify/change the backup software, and is necessary to reformat all the backup files”.

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    We call that documentation. If you start using backup software, you should have the restore process documented, specifically for your organization, so that anyone can execute it. You may develop this documentation while you are testing restores. – Michael Hampton Sep 06 '18 at 12:56
  • @Michael Hampton Where do you document or expect it to be documented? on the backup folder? a "read.me" file? – hokisajam Sep 06 '18 at 12:58
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    That's something that you, your coworkers, your manager all decide. – Michael Hampton Sep 06 '18 at 13:00
  • But here's a hint: not on the system that you're backing up. If your recovery documentation is guaranteed to be inaccessible during your disaster, that's not a great idea. – MadHatter Sep 22 '18 at 06:22

1 Answers1


There are some common proprietary and open standards for archives, such as zip and tar, MTF, LTO etc. that can be used with software (and hardware) from different vendors.

But even when the software does not use a vendor specific format to store the backups typically a large part of the logic and the inventory (which data, from what host and from when, is stored where?) is still vendor specific and requires you to use the same software for a restore as what was used to make the backups.

How to restore data from backup is simply part of your documented (and regularly tested) disaster recovery plan.

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    Some people test their restores, most don't: https://youtu.be/eNliOm9NtCM?t=11m53s – kasperd Sep 09 '18 at 21:04
  • Quoting [`@ScottMcGready`](https://twitter.com/scottmcgready/status/1026875917963079682) : Can we just take a moment to remember that one company I worked for backed up their stuff on tapes religiously- all tapes sent to a warehouse nightly. Years later someone tested a tape... turns out nothing had been written... **ever.** We had a (paid) warehouse full of empty tapes – HBruijn Sep 11 '18 at 08:28