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Inline deduplication refers to getting rid of redundant data in a data set as that data set is being transferred from one device to another, usually in a data backup system. This process cuts down on the bulk of a data set and makes storage more efficient.
One way to explain how inline deduplication works is to contrast it to another major option, which is post-processing deduplication. While post-processing deduplication does the work of separating out redundant data after it has already been transferred, inline deduplication relies on processes that get in between the data origin servers and the data backup destinations, or in other words, functions during the process, rather than after. This can mean that inline deduplication can slow down data backups or otherwise impede the process; however, it also means that the final result will be already scrubbed of redundant or inefficient data.