Inverse Chain Technology™

Inverse Chain Technology is a patented innovation unique to Datto. It is present on all our storage and continuity devices and services.


Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology enables the first backup solution that intelligently integrates with and fully leverages the capabilities of modern backup storage. By breaking away from traditional data backup that is designed at every level to accommodate tape, Datto’s backup and DR solutions provide the most efficient backup and DR available, while supporting the greatest variety of recovery options.

Datto devices use Copy-on-Write snapshots to create application-consistent recovery points of protected servers. The end result is a more efficient and resilient backup solution, a more affordable unified business continuity model, faster recovery, and a DR solution that seamlessly extends to the Datto Cloud.

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Inverse Chain Technology provides:

  • Decoupled retention planning from backup management: Delete backups without ever having to reset the backup chain, with freedom to keep different recovery points locally and in the Datto Cloud
  • Unified backup and disaster recovery: All recovery points are image-based backups in a fully constructed state, which can be booted quickly to run applications from the Datto device or in the Datto Cloud
  • Best available RTO and RPO: Back up source nodes as frequently as every 5 minutes, automate DR testing, and never delay recovery with backup reconstruction or tape restores
  • Backup storage efficiency: Fully utilise investments in backup storage, and simplify management with Infinite Cloud Retention
  • Infrastructure efficiency: Reduce backup infrastructure needs by eliminating tasks such as backup synthesis and backup copy jobs

A smarter backup process

TRADITIONAL BACKUP SOLUTIONS first create a full backup, and then divide subsequent backup data into sets of files that have a dependent relationship (known as a “backup chain”). Pruning and additional full backups (or replication of full backups with backup copy jobs) are required to avoid dependency chains that are too long to manage. Increased backup frequency for improved RPOs only makes longer and more fragile chains. More full backups lead to increased use of backup storage, and more IOs for the backup system to process.

DATTO "INVERSE CHAIN TECHNOLOGY" leverages the features, reliability, and efficiency of ZFS built into all Datto appliances. Inverse chains directly use of the snapshot capabilities of an advanced disk storage system to track the “deltas” between recovery points. No more backup reconstruction - Datto now has each recovery point (not just the last one) in a fully constructed state, ready to virtualise with a ZFS clone!

Decouple retention planning from backup management

Whether it is Full, Incremental, or reverse incremental (synthetic) - Every classic backup method still creates a collection of dependent files, and they all have compromises. At best, they can consolidate, but not delete, their chain of incrementals. All require additional full backups (or copying of full backups) to limit the length of the backup chain. Not even reverse incremental or synthetic backups can match the flexibility of inverse backup chains - for anything but the last backup, reconstruction is still required.

Datto's Inverse Chain Technology enables full flexibility over incrementals. Once any incremental changes are copied from a backup client to a Datto BDR, all backups are maintained equally - all are logically (and effectively) full - and fully constructed. It is possible to instantly delete any recovery point for a protected server - and never have to “reset the backup chain”. Automated pruning enables the Datto Cloud to archive a different set of recovery points than the local Datto system.

Backup Type Full Full w/ Incrementals Reverse Incrementals (Synthetic) Datto Inverse Chain
Clients send only incremental changes for backup (after initial full backup) No Yes Yes Yes
Restore from ANY backup with no reconstruct Yes No No Yes
Instantly delete any recovery point with no “rollup Yes No No Yes
Avoid 3x IOPS penalty from reverse incremental backups Yes Yes No Yes
Avoid wasteful duplication of full backups (to control chain length) No No No Yes

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Unified backup and disaster recovery

Traditional backup solutions are implemented independently of DR solutions. In addition to the cost of a backup solution, extra servers and storage may be purchased for onsite DR, and possibly more for offsite DR, with replication running 24x7. To save cost, file backups may be used for data protection, and USBs / CDs used to protect actual machine images for bootability. All of these solutions add manual labor (easy to skip), idle hardware (consuming power and space), and more network load. And still, long-term retention (archive) is not yet addressed.

Datto provides BDR appliances and DRaaS solutions that combine backup and DR with a hybrid cloud approach for a complete, integrated solution for business. Data for protected servers is saved in a universal virtual file format with each recovery point fully constructed, both on- and off-premises. Protected servers can be restarted - instantly - either locally or in the Datto cloud. DRaaS from Datto increases data protection and DR by including two remote sites for archive data, with the ability to virtualise and run any of those backups.

Datto SIRIS (including virtual) and ALTO systems utilise a hybrid cloud to deliver a complete solution for data protection, and recovery / business continuity for on-premises compute resources.

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Best available RPO/RTO

RPO and RTO are the measurements of a backup and DR solution to meet its desired service level, and to ultimately determine the ROI of the solution. For example, when facing the cost of Ransomware, insufficient RPO and RTO might make the ransom payment even when a costly backup solution is already in place! Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology is a key component of backup and DRaaS solutions with unmatched RPO and RTO.


All backups are in a fully constructed state, ready to be instantly virtualised in seconds. ICT utilises the zero-copy clone capability of the backup storage.

  • No more waiting to recover data from a tape archive
  • No more waiting for reconstruction of a recovery point from a backup chain
  • No more long RTOs to order replacement parts for physical backup clients - Diskless restores let physical servers boot a fully constructed backup image off of a network


Each completed backup has no dependency on other backups, removing any need to reconstruct a backup chain.

  • Not having backup chains liberates the Datto solution to take more frequent backups - as frequently as every 5 minutes.
  • No backup storage and server load for backup synthesis that limits backup frequency
  • Continuous validation of backups become automated with Datto's Screenshot Verification ensures no unexpected failure of recoveries

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Backup storage efficiency

Data storage that uses a modern file system offers many features to optimise storage efficiency, including thin provisioning, snapshots, data compression and variable length blocks. Datto BDR and NAS appliances offer all of these by using ZFS (and now with DNAS 3, ZFS block deduplication is also supported). But to maximise storage efficiency, the difference is ICT’s intelligent integration with ZFS.

  • Non-duplication of full backups - Use backup storage snapshots and clones to avoid wasteful duplication
  • Instant virtualisation (instant restore) without two copies - Only one instance of a server is needed on the backup storage for instant virtualisation
  • Unified backup storage and NAS in one package - Avoid a second on-premises system for backups Available with both DNAS and all Datto BDRs supporting NAS shares
  • No more tape mountain - Simplify and economise long-term retention / archives by moving away from tapes, and towards the cost-effective simplicity of DRaaS with Infinite Cloud Retention (ICR)

One note, do consider the differences in the types of data deduplication offered by backup solutions. No deduplication can be as efficient as non-duplication. Block data deduplication is often against backups that have been needlessly duplicated ( as part of routine backup copy jobs); sometimes is may not even be global to the backup storage system (block deduplication within each backup data set, for example).

Infrastructure Efficiency

The benefits of advanced file systems (like ZFS) are essential to supporting the high throughput demands of backups on day one, and ensuring it will not degrade over time. When backing up to disk using an advanced file system, substantially more HDD operations will be required if the backup software is not intelligently integrated with the backup storage.

Inverse Chain Technology directly leverages the snapshot and clone capabilities within ZFS, as opposed to creating a complex file system of backup dependency chain files that resides on top of another file system. By moving away from solutions that were designed for the constraints of tape, only Datto fully leverages the capabilities of a file system like ZFS. A Datto BDR appliance may require 80% fewer IOPS from the HDDs than a competitive solution running on a dedicated PBBA, while offering improved RPO and RTO, as this integration includes:

  • Not duplicating full backups - Datto will not unnecessarily duplicate full backups with backup copy jobs, saving substantial space and reducing IOPS
  • Clone in place - Stop requiring two full copies of a backup set to support virtualisation - ICT creates writable clones for the purposes of automated backup screenshot verification, instant virtualisation, and even local sandbox testing
  • Backup Insights - Open and compare any two backups with no reconstruction, without requiring backup proxies to always index every single file in every image backup - aving countless unnecessary disk operations
  • Avoid disk operations from reverse backup synthesis - “Reverse incrementals” triple the required disk operations

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Datto NAS 3 is a network-attached storage platform that also benefits from the Datto Hybrid Cloud. As users share documents, it takes snapshots of their data (as often as every five minutes) so they can easily roll back to previous versions of anything being worked on. All data syncs to the secure Datto Cloud so it is always accessible, even in the event of a disaster.

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