Best Free File-Based Backup Program



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 - 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:

  Read this article in Spanish (Español)


In a Hurry?

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



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, and now offers 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
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.
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)
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
6.6 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
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.
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.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lots of features, supports GPT, System Restore, Incremental and Differential backup, AES Encryption
The file management lacks the ability to select multiple parent folders at the same time.
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
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.
113 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.

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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.


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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by jph (not verified) on 13. July 2011 - 10:03  (75381)


Why don't you use portable application (ex: It is very simple to copy from a PC to another without boring installation steps.


by bethsnaper779 (not verified) on 14. July 2011 - 17:16  (75489)

It is a interesting post. I love Rsync,Dump,CPIO,Amanda backup software because of its amazing applications .Generally I like BackupMaker much better, the interface is nice, modern, simple and really fast to make new tasks.

by ExtremeJ3ll0 (not verified) on 22. July 2011 - 19:52  (76051)

Backup maker can't erase it's own files to start a new backup like most programs. It keeps giving me the "disk is full" error.

by Ritho on 23. July 2011 - 4:52  (76078)

What type or style of backup are you using? i.e. Full, Incremental, etc?

by TaylorTimes (not verified) on 1. August 2011 - 22:03  (76713)

Another option is Its not a file based backup tool. Instead, takes a snapshot of your entire system including the Windows OS, Program, settings, everything - even files. You can mount the image to access single files and directories on a day to day basis but when the big one hits...again. You can load their boot disk (boots your PC into Linux!)and it will walk you through restoring the entire system. I was sold when I can put my old PCs image on a new hard drive in a brand new laptop! You can use it free as long as you register (name and email) on their site or from their facebook activation app thing.

by Fritz (not verified) on 3. August 2011 - 16:40  (76838)

After all these recommendations, I tried Cobian 10. I tried hard and for quite some time, but I'm giving up now.

I just couldn't get it to backup on my QNAP NAS, the pointers I found on the internet (mainly: run it as an application) didn't help me get it going.

by Ralph C. Levy (not verified) on 4. August 2011 - 23:24  (76934)

I am 82 yrs old and have been using computers since the getgo. (Kaypro). But I am not into the technical side of it, I just want to use it to run my small business. I just bought a 1 terrabyte external drive. What I am seeking is the very simplest freeware program that I can use to back up all my files on a differential basis (backs up only new files and old ones that have been changed). If disaster strikes, I can get a new hard drive or computer and I want to easily be able to restore. Simplicity is the thing I am looking for. Tks for any help.

by Ritho on 6. August 2011 - 6:37  (77013)

You may want to try DFincBackup since it remains free for commercial use, and is quite simple.

by Ivan G (not verified) on 5. September 2011 - 2:47  (79005)

Am I the only one who finds the Backup Maker nag screen a deal-breaker? If I want my files incrementally backed up every 10 minutes, I'll have to encounter the nag screen every 10 minutes after the backups finish. This is completely unworkable.

I know it can't be true that I'm the only one with this opinion, but I scanned through the comments and found nothing similar to my complaint. Despite being computer-savvy, is it possible that I'm missing something here?

by Anonymous3333 (not verified) on 14. September 2011 - 0:11  (79557)

I have tried them all and I have to say the best I have ever used is Karen's Replicator. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles most people want but it does what it is supposed to do, perfectly, every time. I really forget it's even installed as it's so smooth and has never caused any problems. RIP Karen Kenworthy.

by Mike C on 14. September 2011 - 0:59  (79558)

I, for one, absolutely agree. Been using through 3 of my own machines, have set it up for others, and it's so simple and automatic. Once a week, I run the 'highlighted' jobs. No sweat, no worries. I admit it took a little time to get used to setting it up (partly because I wanted to play with global exclusions.) Had I simply followed her default settings (which I eventually did) even this process would have been much easier. I miss her newsletter with its down-home charm.

by Paul B. (not verified) on 20. September 2011 - 16:12  (79961)

Unreal, awesome is the only way to describe this Toucan Back Up software. Don't know how something free can be this simple and fast. Been using it for about a month now and works on everything. Especially like the ease of carrying the backup on my flash, plugging it into any machine and single click to open the files in real time.

by zieper (not verified) on 26. September 2011 - 10:46  (80351)

you are absolutely right Ivan G.!

by NBape on 29. September 2011 - 8:28  (80556)

# to the Editor: many of us seem to use Cobian Backup and rate it as excellent. We would love to have it reviewed or to know why it is not. Maybe there are good reasons, we don't know, but you could help us with your knowledge. Thank you for your contribution as editor of this article.

by Ritho on 30. September 2011 - 5:08  (80599)

Thanks for taking the time to comment about Cobain. I would agree it is a good and very reliable backup software solution, and I have nothing against it. It is what it is and it does what it is meant to do very well. My concern is that it may be a bit difficult to use for the "average" user. It was in the list ages ago, but I finally removed it do to the fact that so many people complained that it was difficult to set up, and they were confused on how to go about restoring files.

To you and me it may be perfectly intuitive to simply find the archive we want to restore from, and use a zip utility to look through the archive and restore the file we want, but to others it is confusing. I have always wondered why the developers don't simply add a basic archive browser to the program. It has been asked for countless times, and it would help those that are new to the backup and restore process.

Perhaps I should reconsider and include Cobain as an advanced option, but I wonder if most of those who would use it are not already familiar with it. I am definitely open to more of a discussion about the issue, either here or in our forums.


by Ameriketarra (not verified) on 6. October 2011 - 14:11  (80995)

Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this section.

I certainly understand your point that you make regarding Cobian as a very good program but for more "advanced" users. However, the omission of such a program from this section makes me wander whether other "better" programs have also been omitted for the same reason, here or elsewhere from this great website.

If that is the case, would it not be better to have reviews or recommendations for each section based on computer knowledge: beginner, average and advance?

Thank you.

by JC (not verified) on 7. October 2011 - 0:57  (81029)

I too am interested in this capability, and I agree that a standard format like zip makes sense. I wouldn't rely on it for current backups, but I do sometimes like to make a snapshot archive that I can save to DVD and stash away, probably never to be used again, but it gives me an angle a couple of years later, maybe when I am on a different computer, that I may be able to fish out some file that I remember I had but can't lay my hands on now.

Since I generally find this site very informative and reliable, I was intrigued by the recommendation of Backup Maker, and it looked like on paper, it could do this. But I too had difficulty in making a spanning set of discs. In my case, I could burn the first, but when I inserted the second, it kept complaining that there was "not enough space on disk to write archive", even although I could verify that it was blank. I can't say our experience supports the endorsement of this program that I see here.

What does meet the bill, however, is GFI Backup Home, of which I used the 2009 release. This program can create sets of spanning DVDs in multipart Zip format. 7-zip apparently cannot open this format, but WinRAR and perhaps other programs can. I note you state the more recent version of GFI Backup cannot do this, but you might want to double-check if that's really true. In general, even the free version has a lot of useful features, like flexible source and destination selection, scheduling, file sync, incremental/full/diff backups, etc. So I think this one is top of the pile for me.

Alternatively, I might suggest that if your goal is to read the backup in a standard archive format, then you could use such software to generate the archive in the first place, rather than to use a "backup" program as such.

by gamcantoi (not verified) on 8. October 2011 - 5:03  (81085)

nice tool, i like all that.
maybe u can test d'syncronize it small tool, no installation just copy and running, and it can do with schedular and realtime for backup/syncronize file

by mario837 on 8. October 2011 - 22:14  (81128)

I was using FBackup without major problems, except that the freeware version doesn't include incremental or differential backups.
Based on your recommendation above, I downloaded and installed Backup Maker. In less than 24 hours I have two problems and decided to uninstall it.
First, my fault, yesterday I turned off my Windows 7 PC while Backup Maker was performing the verification of the files. Result: no backup performed after some 8 hours of work as I have some 800 Gb to backup.
Second, I left the program running again last night. This morning I had my zip file with the backup. I verified the backup by restoring some files without problems. One hour ago I tried to open Backup Maker. No response, even when Windows was reporting that the backup was running. Probably it was making, again, a full backup but I had no way to verify this.
I am back to FBackup. No incrementals but sound and safe.
I am a fan of your site so, thank you very much for maintaining it on our behalf!


by Anupam on 11. October 2011 - 6:01  (81218)

A new backup program :

LojiklSweep :

by fernman (not verified) on 12. October 2011 - 12:37  (81280)

Another new one I found is Backup Folder Sync which I've just started using on two machines. It's simple to use, and it's good so far.
BFS mirrors the files and folders that you select from a tree list, and you can save your selection to use other times.
On subsequent backups after your first one it only copies files that have changed since the last backup, while it also deletes any files that you have removed from your machine.
There is a Restore function where you select what you want back from a tree view of your backup.
All it lacks is a scheduler.
There are more details, and a link to the maker's website, on Freeware Files.

by Anupam on 12. October 2011 - 12:45  (81281)

Please try to provide a link, so that the editor, or the moderators do not have to hunt for it on the net. It also will be easy for other users, as sometimes they can be lead to some other sites, or commercial wares by searching. Anyways, here is the link for the product :

by lastsaves (not verified) on 20. October 2011 - 21:08  (81804)

Cheers everybody,
at first, I would like to thank every editor for their great job.
I need some kind of special recommendation.
I tried few backup programs (Cobian, Free Backup, Backup Maker, Toucan) but none of these have a feature I miss the most. I want to back up files on my USB stick on week basis (but I plug it in everyday). And I seek a program, which reshedule backup when the USB stick in not plugged in at the scheduled time.
All programs I have tried just try to backup the files and then show and error, but did not reschedule. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance.

by Peterlg (not verified) on 21. October 2011 - 17:50  (81875)

Backup Maker would be better if the error messages were in English not german, and yes, the program itself is in English!

by Anonymous7843 (not verified) on 22. October 2011 - 10:26  (81905)


Your thoughts please.

My sisters hard drive just carked it and fortunately I managed to boot from a linux CD and copy every single file off her hard drive to a portable drive. Whoo Hoo - she owes me a week of hot dinners :-)

I've clean installed XP and recovered all the files etc and she is happy.

But what backup strategy would be best for her? She won't have a portable drive permanently plugged into her computer and will probably only manually backup when I remind her to once a month.

Basically I would be looking to do a full backup once a month and delete the old one. What is a good program to do this? Preferably something that doesn't load itself at startup she says.

Thanks very much.


by GraveDigger on 2. November 2011 - 2:49  (82549)

Have you considered having her do a monthly disk image instead of a backup?

Since she won't have a drive connected to her system at all times she's probably no worse off having a disk image of her ENTIRE system made on a regular basis. I use the free version of Macrium Reflect and an 1TB external USB drive - I make a folder on the external drive (using the date as a file name) and save the disk image to that folder. Then I make a new folder when I decide to make the next disk image.

Assuming that she probably doesn't have all that many files on her system, she can probably have multiple images on an external drive and delete the older folders after a period of time. That way she would be able to restore her entire system (including the OS, updates, favorites, installed programs & preferences) as well as her data files (which are the ones normally saved by most backup programs...)

I've used this method for some time and it makes restoring a computer system much easier (and I don't have to reinstall the operating system, download all the updates and then re-install my programs). This is a real time saver as I don't have to worry if my system's hard drive fails - I can pull the old drive, put in a newer one (and these days newer probably means larger...) and restore the image to the new drive.

Just be sure to make the rescue CD and put it away (just in case...)

by KiwiKing (not verified) on 13. November 2011 - 14:25  (83206)

For me Timeline Free works perfectly on my machine without errors or slowing down my other programs.
Last night I finally needed to use the restore which I've been waiting to test it in real action. It took me 3 minutes to find the file i needed to restore and got it back to my desktop.

by Emo (not verified) on 14. November 2011 - 10:47  (83257)

I have used PureSync with great success. It is simple to use and it works at least for me. At least last years version. Not sure how you got all those problems, but perhaps it was a bad distribution, have you tried the latest? But, yes, it is very bad when there is no bug/feedback info/page to any software. How can it be trusted?

Anyway, I just tried Toucan and I am NOT happy. Why should I have to install the entire "PortableApps", juts to run it? We'll I tried without, and it did run, but not it was not possible to select destination directory and I don't like the fact that there is no information about what all the different buttons does! Mouse-over? In addition it doesn't seem possible to copy/backup without making everything into a Zip/gz/bz2 file. A simple copy doesn't seem possible. Finally, it has not been updated for well over a year! Now I will try FBackup...

by Emo (not verified) on 14. November 2011 - 11:29  (83260)

Now I have tried FBackup, and I am very disappointed there as well. The program starts backup with crashing its own Shadow Copy file "VscSrv2008.exe". Over one year ago, "they" said they had fixed it...

From LOG file:
[11/14/2011 1:00:20 PM] Preparing shadow copy
[11/14/2011 1:01:33 PM] Could not create Volume Shadow Copy. Locked files will not be copied.

Why does it need ShadowCopy!? Any sane windows user know that it is better to disable windows ShadowCopy for performance issues.

Similarly to Toucan it insists in creating zip files, with no option to disable zipping backups. In addition the naming convention of the resulting zip files are not possible to change! This is in my opinion a fail. Uninstall and go back to PureSync or Cobian!

by AK (not verified) on 15. November 2011 - 7:10  (83317)

Hi all! Let me tell you what I want. A backup program which can
-- make incremental backup of individual folders (I have several across diff. drives)
-- backup setting of these can be saved and imported into a fresh install- ie., no need to create all those backups again, in case of a hard disk crash or to use on a different computer. Please tell me if you know. Thanks a lot in advance.

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