Best Free File-Based Backup Program

 

Introduction

The theme of this category is to provide reviews for the most popular and best free file-based backup programs that provide adequate features, ease of use and ability to set and forget. File based backup programs do not usually support the creation of a system boot restore disk.  The intention behind backup software is to backup important data you create, not generally to restore your operating system or applications.  Use backup software to save document files, browser favorites, pictures, videos and other data, documents and media.  There are other options for creating system restore disks and restoring applications. Some of the backup programs are easier to use than others usually at the cost of some features.  Backup programs do have their own nomenclature for processes.  Please take the time to educate yourself on the process and terminology.  Gizmo's has several articles for reference, some mentioned later in this review and the Freeware Forum to post questions. Downloading and trying two or three different programs to perform a test backup may be preferable to determine the proper fit for your needs and experience.  

Important Features:

  • Shadow Copy or VSS - Comodo Backup
  • GPT drives - EaseUS - AOMEI
  • Incremental & Differential Backup - Comodo, Backup Maker
  • AES Security Encryption - Comodo, Backup Maker

Note: There are a lot of free backup programs that have some unique features and excellent functionality that really deserve mentioning, but room here does not allow. If you are looking for more advanced programs, or some specific functionality, please check out the three links directly below. Special Review

Recommended Reading:

  Read this article in Spanish (Español)

 

In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 

Discussion

enlightenedTIP — Can't Find What You Need in the Choices Below? Try Our Extended List of Backup Programs.


Comodo Backup represents what a truly full functional free backup software should be.  Although lacking a wizard for novice users, the essential functions are clearly laid out.  Installation notes; you can opt out of using the cCloud 10GB free storage.  The software will reboot your system after installing, so make sure you don't have any other applications open.  Comodo Backup starts out with the option to perform a System backup with their default settings when you run it for the first time, I skipped this step.  To begin creating a backup, click the Backup menu from the left sidebar to configure specific source files and folders or select from the Shortcuts menu to easily backup common folders like My Documents, My Pictures, My Videos and My Music.  Once a backup has been configured and run, on-demand is easily selected from the Home Summary list of backups already performed.  Like most backup software once configured, it's easy to do again.  Tip: in the backup window there is an option to choose Fewer Options or More Options.  Select the view you are most comfortable with.  Comodo does offer full backup, incremental and differential as well as Shadow Copy.  There are options to choose the level of compression from none to maximum, and the backup format.  Types of backup formats include CBU file, simple copy, ZIP file, ISO file, self-extracting CBU file and file sync.  Comodo can only restore CBU and Simple Copy formats.  Comodo does offer scheduling.  From the backup screen, near the bottom in the middle is a gray clock icon to use for setting the backup schedule.  The good, this program is full of usable features.  The bad, they take time to learn and it lacks GPT format support.  I recommend their online help guide as a resource to getting familiar with the program.  The step by step image filled help is easy to navigate and very informative.  If you are short of drive space and need another source, try Comodo's free 10GB of cloud storage.  Comodo's extensive online help includes RSS feeds in the lower left corner of the main console view to the latest news releases and video's explaining many of their features and offerings.  I really like this program for it's unrestricted functionality.


Backup Maker Screen ShotBackup Maker: Backup Maker opens with a clean console inviting the user to start with a backup or restore.  Click backup to start the restore wizard.  Choose presets or specific files and folders, scheduling, full or partial backups, a target location, and a backup name, those are the basic wizard features.  The advanced features include the ability to catch up missed backups, creating settings for not overwriting older backups, security options, back up condition options, actions to occur before/after backup, and splitting the backup.  The wizard did a good job of walking me through the options.  The developer has fixed the system slowing or freezing when drilling down directory trees that one of our user's pointed out.  I've tested this feature again and cannot recreate the issue.  The software has one of the most extensive sets of options for customizing backups.  Unfortunately imaging, cloning or system boot backups are not supported.  Backup Maker does not limit any of the functionality versus the paid version.  The omissions from the paid version are commerical use and technical support.  For restoration, assuming your operating system is installed and functional, Backup Maker will restore data in a few short steps.  Click the restore button, select the files to restore and where to restore them.  Keeping with the program's trait of selection detail, the options to select specific files to restore from a group, and being able to select an alternative destination or restore the original path are nice options.  
 


FBackup: starts with a Getting Started window over the main window.  The Getting Started window can be turned off after the first use however this window is also a Wizard that novice users may find beneficial.  The Getting Started options are Backup, Restore and Links. Select Backup another window will open.  Name your backup, choose the target destination, click next. The following window is for selecting and excluding files.  This requires a familiarity with file tree structions and locating the information you want to backup on the hard drive.  The next window is for encryption and selecting full or mirror backup. Mirror backup will essentially copy files from one location to another.  Mirror backups cannot be compressed or password protected. The next window is for scheduling.  A nice feature is each window has a help link associated with the information on that window.  There is also an advanced button at the bottom of the screen to access other options.  Essentially there are four steps to creating a backup.  After the backup is complete a notification window will pop-up showing the files backed up. This is part of the CRC32 test.  The test cannot be performed again after the backup.  FBackup will return to the main window.  FBackup free does not offer incremental or differential backups. Compressed files are zipped so no need for mounting/unmounting. Backups can be password protected but they are not encrypted.  A unique feature of FBackup is the use of plugins which can be used to automate backups.  These plugins are preset for specific applications like game saves, email data, web browser settings, anti-virus configurations, etc.  The developer has created a rather long list of available plugins to help capture specific application files. The options menu under the File tab provides access to configuring essential functions of the software.  Since FBackup is heavy on pop-up notifications, the Notifications option is very handy for customizing what pop-up windows you see and for how long.  The UI is similar to MS Office 2010's ribbon toolbar making FBackup more comfortable for users of MS products.  Overall a nice backup program for users of moderate computer knowledge. My dislikes are the restrictions in the free version compared to the paid version.
 


EaseUS Todo Backup: EaseUS is designed to be user friendly by simplicity without a wizard.  However this assumes a level of experience that may exclude some novice users.  The main menu has three quick link options, Disk/Partition backup, System backup and File backup.  System backup is essentially the same as Disk/Partition backup only the presets are fixed for backing up the system files.  In the free version EaseUS will not create a bootable system restore disk. Using the cloning or imaging features however hard drive information can be completely restored by using a seperate boot disk/drive like a system CD or Flash drive.  Using File Backup the default view is a directory tree to manually select files or accept the default settings.  There is another option by clicking the arrow on the file tab and selecting File Type to see a list of presets or create your own.  Once the files are selected, a small row of links will open other windows for additional options.  There is a link for scheduling, backup options and Image-Reserve Strategy.  The backup options are limited in the Free version.  Compression is either none or normal, splitting, and priority settings of normal or medium.  VSS is not an option, incremental backups are available, not differential with the Free version.  Once configured however backups are essentially two clicks away using presets.  The Clone menu on the left sidebar has links to perform Disk and Partition Cloning.  The Tools menu on the left sidebar offers Check Image, Wipe Data, Enable PreOS, Create Emergency Disk, and Mount/UnMount.  EaseUS does support GPT disks and is for personal use only.  Admin level use is required to restore and perform other functions.  Overall EaseUS ToDo Free is a quick simple program to use.  Being a restricted version of their full version leaves it lacking in overall features compared to other backup programs.  EaseUS must be downloaded from CNET or use this link, because the verification code system on the developer's site doesn't work.  I used the CNET download without incident.
 


AOMEI Backupper Well worth a mention in this category because of its additional ability to quickly make backups of files and folders. The latest edition at time of writing is 2.0.1 and now has a few extra features such as the ability now to select multiple files and folders at the same time for backup along with support for performing a backup or restore across a network or NAS (Network Attached Storage), in addition you are now able to import and export all the backup tasks in XML format. The developers at AOMEI are constantly improving on their software whilst still maintaining a clean and easy to use GUI.

Please follow this link for the full full review and rating: AOMEI Backupper.  


Related Products and Links

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Quick Selection Guide

Comodo Backup
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Offers Shadow Copy, incremental and differential backup, seven levels of encryption, unrestricted features. Short 3 step process.
Lacks a wizard, options may be confusing to novice users.
4.3.5.2
24.3 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win XP sp2, Vista, 7, 8, Server 2003, 2008
Backup Maker (Personal Edition)
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Has many features for basic and advanced selection. Nice scheduling options. Clean console, helpful wizard.
No Shadow Copy
6.507
6.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win XP - Win 8
FBackup
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use wizard featuring plugins to make it easy to back up data from various other programs, like browsers, email clients, or media players.
Lacks partial backup ability, no Shadow Copy, no high level encryption. Free version restricted functions.
http://fbackup.com/
5.0.325
1.15 MB for the installer, 51MB for the application
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win XP, Vista, 7, 8 / Win Server 2000-2008

See the following website for free plugins for your favorite program. http://www.backup4all.com/en/backup-plugins.html

EaseUS Todo Backup
2
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Cloning and imaging features. Straight forward user interface.
No Shadow Copy, no differential backups, lacks a wizard.
http://www.todo-backup.com/
6.1
113 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
WIN XP - WIN 8

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Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor AndyR. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

Tags

best free back up programs, top backup programs, free backup tools, free backup utility, free disk backup, free drive backup free disk imaging, free file based backup and sync, free folder sync programs.

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Comments

by Paxmilitaris on 17. November 2014 - 20:31  (119677)

BackUp Maker is just so annoying with the popup for the paid version every single time it does a backup.

by Lassar on 20. August 2014 - 14:21  (118088)

Lets say you have a folder to be backed.

Is there any file backup software that will make backups of any new folders in this folder?

by AndyR on 21. August 2014 - 4:40  (118111)

free file sync now has that ability however it is very basic and does slow down operations slightly when your accessing said folder.

by SyDiko on 18. August 2014 - 16:56  (118038)

In my opinion, and I'm sad it didn't make the list yet, but Cobian backup is probably the best free backup software available. UNFORTUNATELY, last Novemberish (2013) the developer has stopped releasing updates and sold off the source code, but its still free and the current version is as stable as cement. :)

by crombierob on 1. July 2014 - 7:01  (117052)

I just downloaded all of the free versions from AOMEI
Make sure you'all get the bigger download (does XP and later OS's)
Even if you only need it for Win 7/8 get the other one (XP and Win 7/8)
The reason being with the bigger one, you can create a bootable Win PE CD.
And if you follow my instructions and only image when Windows is closed (ie use a bootable CD), then only the Win PE CD allows that.

Rob

PS I have the latest FF, and CANNOT LOG IN to here to make comments. Had to use an alternate browser (Comodo Dragon)

by AndyR on 1. July 2014 - 8:31  (117057)

Hi crombierob, You also have the option to create a Linux based boot CD / ISO though the Win PE CD / ISO is much more comprehensive (as in you have almost all the same options available to you, as you have discovered) what I tend to do is have the Win PE ISO stored in the same location as my current weekly backups and use EasyBCD to create a boot from ISO menu entry for it, so I have two boot options Win7 and also Aomei Win PE, whilst this method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what it is you wish to do and should not be used as your only emergency recovery method, though for day to day use I find that method is more convenient for me personally.

by jeffegil on 30. June 2014 - 22:08  (117042)

AOMEI Backupper DOES support file and folder backup now.
Download free version 2.0.1 from their site.

http://www.backup-utility.com/help/file-backup.html

by AndyR on 1. July 2014 - 1:25  (117045)

Hi jeffegil, Thanks for the additional information. I plan to update the reviews that need doing so ASAP including AOMEI Backupper, incidentally that is the one I am currently using for a personal backup solution.

by mikey 71 on 28. May 2014 - 18:42  (116468)

FBackup is now on version 460. It DOES have shadow copy.

by sicknero on 28. April 2014 - 11:24  (115932)

Paragon Backup and Recovery 2014 Free, features list;

"NEW: Back up changes since the full, or the latest incremental image. It's allowed to maintain several incremental chains based on one full image, provided each chain contains changed data of a particular backup object(s). pVHD based incremental imaging works much faster and rock-stable in comparison with the old PBF."

(http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/features.html)

by not recognized on 22. April 2014 - 11:11  (115836)

"The developer has fixed the system slowing or freezing when drilling down directory trees that one of our user's pointed out."

Please be reminded for the sanity of all us pedants that 'users' doesn't have any apostrophe.
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe
We bow to your superior knowledge and skills. Showing us your impeccable grasp of teh language will cement our reverence, and make impossible any form of pecc.

It would be helpful for those unfamiliar with the modi operandi of the various utilities for the ways they work to be mentioned. For example, I installed a backup utility with seemingly much to recommend it, which disappeared a terabyte of data when the drive on which it was installed failed. This has been claimed to be a valid event and not cause for complaint, but those of us who need our backups to be relatively safe will need to know about things like 'is it a "block" backer-up or not?' and 'if the backup app is uninstalled, will the frigging backed up files still be there?'

If this stuff has in fact all been made clear, I will have to re-read and, on re-reading, understand a lot better. Perhaps to break up the reviews into paragraphs could make them a little easier to digest for the inexpert user.
I might need to distill the info into bullet lists of functionalities, attributes and drawbacks, and then research the items i.e it's not that clear to this particular self-taught philistine. Or maybe make up a table.

Thanks for these reviews. I will cautiously try a new app.

by AndyR on 1. July 2014 - 3:25  (117047)

Hi, Thank you for your input and suggestions, you make a valid point regarding if the backup files will still remain or not after uninstalling the software as I do recall one I tested a couple of years ago actually deleted the backed up files though I do not recall exactly what its name was / is offhand.

The general guideline for any form of sensitive backup data is to keep it off the main system as in use a removable HDD for example to store the backups. However in most cases the software will create it's own file type extension that is not compatible with similar software, there are way's and means around this in certain circumstances but that is not for me to advise here as you can get in a very big mess real quickly.

by Redschuart on 20. April 2014 - 9:17  (115810)

I don't think you can describe Comodo Backup as unrestricted freeware. When I installed it, I unticked a box so it didn't install their cloud backup service.
When I tried to set up a file backup it forces you to log in or register. The register option takes you to a webpage that then forces you to sign up for one of their cloud backup services. They all cost money. The first offers "90 days free" which indicates after 90 days they will charge you.
That isn't unrestricted freeware in my book.
I did not want 'cloud storage' so didn't register and removed the software.

by joeguru on 20. April 2014 - 12:27  (115811)

If I understand your comment correctly, you seem to have misunderstood Step 2 and the selection of a backup destination. You are not forced to use Comodo Cloud, but it is the default destination. There are 4 other options you can select listed in a row. Look for where it says Comodo Cloud, My Computer, CD/DVD, Network, FTP Server, EMail. Try clicking the one that says My Computer.

by Paxmilitaris on 3. March 2014 - 20:44  (114760)

For Backup Maker (Personal Edition), it says "32 and 64 bit versions available", but at the listed address http://www.ascomp.de/products/show/product/backupmaker , i can't find a 64 bit version, there is only free and professional.

by joeguru on 5. March 2014 - 4:48  (114803)

If you look at the lower right side of the page you referenced, under supported operating systems it says 32 and 64 bit.

by Paxmilitaris on 15. March 2014 - 0:26  (115020)

It may "support" 32 and 64 bit operating systems, that doesn't make the software 64 bits.

I installed it and it installed in the x86 section, so it's 32 bit, "not" 64.

Where can i download the 64 bit version?

by joeguru on 17. March 2014 - 2:02  (115056)

Our information has been updated to 32bit but 64bit compatible.

by Bill48er on 25. February 2014 - 2:54  (114635)

I have some VERY basic questions!
- When proprietary OS and programs (read Microsoft) are backed up, and where they originally required an unlock code for proof of purchase, can they be reinstalled after a crash without needing that information?
- Are all current updated drivers (and MS updates) backed up?

by joeguru on 26. February 2014 - 6:09  (114661)

1. Yes. 2. Yes. This is the reason I included AOMEI Backup in my review as it does just what you're asking and will create a system boot disk. Others reviewed may perform the system backup but they won't create a boot disk to restore from.

by Bill48er on 27. February 2014 - 1:45  (114676)

Thanks. Very clear answer. I think the most important consideration in choosing backup programs and strategies is which will get you back up (pun intended) and running just the way you were before disaster struck. That is, without needing days or weeks of reinstalling programs and getting them back to the setups that took maybe years of gradual adjustments to get your computer just the way you like it. That is what I would want. So, which do that, and how much storage capacity (relative to your HD usage) will that facility require. Then go for it. I'll certainly be looking into AOMEI. Bill

by Mennyk on 12. February 2014 - 10:59  (114423)

hi,
what about Cobian backup?
any words about this free software?

by joeguru on 13. February 2014 - 20:57  (114460)

Thank you for the tip, I'll take a look at it.

by Juxxize on 8. February 2014 - 12:15  (114319)

I've downloaded Backup maker because I'm hoping it will compress my backups better and preform backups quicker than the built in Windows back up tool ( I'm using Win7 ) but I'm confused about this feature mentioned on their website , the feature to upload your backups to a webserver through an FTP/FTPS upload , what does this actually mean ? what does this feature do ? does it mean I can back up my files to for example Skydrive or Dropbox using this software or is it something else completely

by joeguru on 10. February 2014 - 15:38  (114385)

FTP and Cloud backup services like Skydrive and Dropbox are different. FTP is a file transfer protocol to transfer files to a server over a network or the internet. If you have an account with someone that hosts an FTP server you could have Backup Maker upload your backup files to the FTP account. For further clarification and discussion, post your question about the difference between cloud storage and ftp storage in the Freeware Forum. Thank you.

by Juxxize on 1. April 2014 - 9:31  (115434)

thanks for your reply I've only just noticed it .

by stefan555 on 25. January 2014 - 7:42  (113968)

I am a bit confused...why is AOMEI Backupper reviewed is this category? Maybe it is due to my limited knowledge but the first sentence in this review is ”The theme of this category is to provide reviews for the most popular file based backup programs ...”. Based on that, I can't see the reason for AOMEI Backupper to be mentioned in this category since it's not a program to backup files. Shouldn't AOMEI Backupper be mentioned in the category with ”The best free drive cloning program”?

Comodo Backup supports Win 8, but it doesn' support GPT. You can backup your system with Comodo Backup including the boot records. Maybe it is due to my limited knowledge again, but does Comodo Backup support Windows 8 if it doesn't have GPT support? Comodo Backup can be installed and used on Win 8 as long as you are doing file backups. Is that the case if you are using the program to make a system backup? Not even Comodo claim the program has support for Windows 8.

It is not mentioned mere, but FBackup supports Windows 8.

by joeguru on 28. January 2014 - 4:49  (114021)

I did make comments regarding AOMEI in the Introduction notes and in the review. Also the disk backup feature of AOMEI is not an image or clone, it's a batch file backup with the same features (actually more) than other file backup programs. I feel it may be a viable option for some users. It could also be considered as a cloning software, but so could Fbackup and EaseUS which also offer cloning.

Regarding Comodo, I didn't get a response from the developer regarding GPT support. I cannot make claims the developer doesn't qualify. Since they do not say they support GPT (like the others who do) I have to assume they don't. Some of their forum posts talk about not supporting GPT so I feel safe in stating this for now. If you or anyone else can provide written evidence to the contrary I will be glad to correct the review.

Thank you for your time and feedback.

by CyberWolf64 on 28. April 2014 - 2:18  (115928)

Actually AOMEI Backupper is an IMAGE backup when you do either a drive, partition or system disk backup.
Also, as of v2 it will also do file/directory backups to an image type file as well.
I have used AOMEI since release, and positively love it.
And even now, IMHO, it is still the BEST. Better than Macrium or Paragon for FREE.
As in from day 1 it has allowed the user to do FULL, INCREMENTAL and DIFFERENTIAL images.
Last I checked, Pragon allow only FULL and DIFFERENTIAL, and Macrium ONLY does FULL images only.
I was very pleasantly surprised in v2 to find the addition of the file/directory back up. Now, this even beats EaseUS ToDo Backup Free as well.

by not recognized on 16. January 2014 - 3:20  (113645)

Genie timeline used to be a recommendation. Warning; the system drive failed, and all the backup folders on other drives later turned out to be empty; i.e if the program isn't installed, the backups disappear. Catastrophically stupid.

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