Best Free Hard Drive Backup Program

 
Introduction

The theme of this category is to provide reviews for the most popular 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 - AOMEI & EaseUS
  • Create System Restore - AOMEI
  • Incremental & Differential Backup - Comodo, Backup Maker, AOMEI
  • AES Security Encryption - Comodo, Backup Maker, AOMEI,

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: AOMEI is not a file based backup program, however it's extensive abilities and member requests have warranted a review in this category.


Recommended Reading:

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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.
 


AOMEI Backupper is good for the user who wants a fast efficient way to perform large backups.  This program does not allow the user to choose files and folders. It's the only program in this category that isn't a file based backup program.  Instead Backupper offers fast methods to backup or clone hard drives and partitions with a couple of easy clicks of the mouse.  There are utilities for checking file integrity and creating bootable rescue media.  NAS (network storage) is also supported. The primary backup options are Disk Backup, Partition Backup and System Backup. AOMEI does have some good options for all backup modes, like the ability to create comments about the backup, select levels of compression, whether or not to encrypt, the ability to split large backups, whether or not to optimize sectors during backup and the option for Shadow Copying aka VSS.  Incremental and Differential backup is supported.  Unfortunately the type of compression is not optional, nor is the type of encryption which uses AES.  AOMEI supports UEFI boot and GPT disks.  AOMEI software is good but not for everyone.  It has many of the essential functions omitted in FBackup and EaseUS, but doesn't offer individual file/folder backup.  I recommend it for those seeking methods of backing up drives or individual partitions, and cloning. I also give kudos to their online support which is rather extensive and well organized with detailed articles and videos in a user friendly layout.  
 


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.
 


 


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

AOMEI
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lots of features, supports GPT, System Restore, Incremental and Differential backup, AES Encryption
Drive and Partition backups only. No file management.
http://www.aomeitech.com/
1.6
60 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 7, 8, Vista, XP and Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012
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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This software category is maintained by volunteer editor Joeguru. 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 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 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.

by stefan555 on 26. January 2014 - 5:36  (113972)

There is a valid reason for the backups to 'disappear' when Genie Timeline is uninstalled.

Genie Timeline is NOT a file backup program. It's a versioning program. To save space Genie Timeline works on block level not on file level. It backups the changes you have made to a file on block level on the harddisk, not the changed file. It means for example you can't use your word processor to open a document backed up by Genie Timeline if Genie Timeline isn't installed.
As long as Genie Timeline is installed you can open in your document in the word processor since Genie Timeline is integrated in Explorer. When you uninstall Genie Timeline there is nothing to keep track of the chain of changed blocks of a file.
To backup a file you MUST use a backup program that works on file level, not on block level. Block level backup programs are good for backing up a system, but they should never be used to backup your personal files.

Use Genie Timeline to keep track of the changes to your personal files so you can go back to an earlier version of a document, but use a backup program working on file level to backup your files.

A backup program working on block level should never be used to backup of your personal files

by ShorePatrol on 28. December 2013 - 20:23  (113255)

My question may seem simple but I am confused.I have W/7 X64 and use the built in backup and have ticked the "Only Keep Latest Version" yet it takes twice the resources as the original -WHY- what am I missing? I have a 2nd internal drive just for backup and it is full. I also have the original OS Disc so is it possible only to keep my files? If so how? I just purchased a external 3.0 drive and do not want to clutter it up with redundancy, I know all you tech's can help so... c'mon. Is a free utility my only option which is OK but I would like to know if it is me or the software.

by joeguru on 30. December 2013 - 11:16  (113275)

We do appreciate this question, however this belongs in our Freeware Forum, not category comments. Please look for the tab across the top of this page that says Freeware Forum, click on it and post a New Thread. Thank you.

by intuitive challenged on 23. December 2013 - 6:22  (113133)

I tried Backup Maker and don't have a clue about how to make it work. I wanted to back up the c: drive to an external drive and it insisted on doing file selection.

I wanted to be able to back up a selected group of folders on demand and it insisted on scheduling. I could not figure out how to make it start a backup without scheduling.

Is there backup software usable by somebody who is untuitive challenged, something where you click on a button and a backup starts?

by joeguru on 23. December 2013 - 12:33  (113137)

To backup C: Launch the program. Click the Backup button. In the welcome screen make sure activate expert mode is unchecked. You will have 5 steps.

Step 1 select files and folders, then look on the list for Computer. Click the arrow next to computer to see all your drives. Check the box next to C: drive.

Step 2, Automation will not work unless you chose an option. Skip this step to eliminate scheduling.

Step 3, no matter what you select in step 1, you need to choose full backup the first time in step 3. After you've made a full backup of the items in step 1, you can make partial backups in step 3.

Step 4, select your destination.
Step 5, give your backup a name.
Your new backup configuration will be added to the main screen for on demand use. If you want to change the full backup to partial, click the edit icon.

For further instruction refer to the help guide or the developer's website. Thank you for using Gizmo's.

by AScomp on 23. December 2013 - 18:43  (113143)

Just wanted to clarify: You do not have to choose full backup the first time! If you choose partial backup on step 3 and there is no full backup available already for this task, BackUp Maker will automatically create a full backup as a base first. So, you must not care about this, BackUp Maker will do that for you automatically.

Anyway, great how-to - thank you joe!

by joeguru on 24. December 2013 - 12:21  (113165)

Thank you for clarifying.

by crombierob on 23. December 2013 - 10:17  (113134)

See my earlier post regarding the free Seagate Discwizard.
If you wish assistance regarding imaging the whole drive, I am happy to help you (and others).
If this forum allows, I am happy to post my email address.
I would use this format so that 'Skynet' cannot scrape my address from this page -
[Posting of email addresses is not permitted as per our site rules. Please note also that requests for support and any replies should be posted in our forum and not in the comments sections.]
If this forum does object, perhaps the hosting service (this membership) could have an option to allow members to contact each other. It could be a setting that has to be ticked, to allow.

Merry Xmas to you all,
Rob

by Joe A.TT on 23. December 2013 - 13:10  (113138)

You can use PMs (Private Messages).

by crombierob on 23. December 2013 - 15:37  (113140)

Joe,
Thanks for the 'heads up'
Rob

by Tar73 on 20. December 2013 - 2:56  (113052)

I downloaded backup maker but was disappointed to see that it don't have volume Shadow Copy functionality.

Does anyone knows about a freeware backup program that has shadow Copy functionality and automatic incremental or automatic differential backup?

by joeguru on 20. December 2013 - 6:07  (113055)

GFI Backup and Comodo Backup provides these functions. I haven't reviewed them yet so I have no opinion regarding their functionality. Thank you for using Gizmo's!

by Tar73 on 20. December 2013 - 12:39  (113061)

Thanks for the information. I love Gizmo's, using it almost daily, thanks for the great work :D
GFI backup look really good. I'm surprised that backup programs like this is not in the review, yet :)

by joeguru on 20. December 2013 - 18:02  (113075)

I'm working on new reviews, hope to have new stuff up in January sometime.

by Gizmosupporter on 16. December 2013 - 8:34  (112972)

WARNING: I clicked link to Backup Maker & get a WARNING "This page contains viruses or other Malware....Take me back safely".
Is this correct??

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