Several real-time applications require communication services with guaranteed timeliness and fault tolerance at an acceptable level of overhead. Different applications need different levels of fault tolerance and differ in how much they are willing to pay for the service they get. So, there is a need for a way of providing the requested level of reliability to different connections. We propose a new scheme based on the Primary-Backup approach for providing such service differentiation in a resource efficient manner. In our scheme, we provide partial backups for varying lengths of the primary path to enhance the reliability of the connection. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our scheme using simulation studies. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000.