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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 - 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

 

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, 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

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

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
The file management lacks the ability to select multiple parent folders at the same time.
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 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 Emo (not verified) on 15. November 2011 - 19:33  (83343)

I TAKE THAT BACK! STAY AWAY FROM PureSync!

It simply sucks! Writing a simple CMD line script most likely works much better and faster (including the learning and writing of the script!)!

Had 74000 files to copy and after 20% was done (in ~1.5 hours) it got interrupted by a "file in use" asking me to temporarily upgrade to pro version, in which I though yes, then it will continue. NO! Stopped an no more copying! Idiots! It takes the program 5 minutes just to "display" the filenames...without doing anything. Excruciatingly slow copying. The file selectors keep-on not including under directories, eventhough that box is checked!

Now I'll try Bart or CreateSynchronicity! Then I'll just go back to my old Cygwin Bash script, which beats every sync program out there, when it comes to speed!

by AG (not verified) on 18. November 2011 - 3:45  (83465)

Hi, For years I have been backing up my files by hand but I am much more active on my computer these days and need an automatic backup. I backup to an external drive and I only need it to run once a week or so. I also wonder if any of these programs would be able to backup my external hard drive to another one so I can have a backup of my backup since I don't have space on my laptop for all the pictures and edits I do and I'm falling behind on making DVD's.
thanks

by BerkuT (not verified) on 19. November 2011 - 20:48  (83566)

I suggest you to try US Todo Backup Free Edition.
I used it to Clone a drive and I can't complain on the results.
The interface, although it doesn't show much information, is simple and clean.
You can create a File Backup, System Backup and a Disk Clone. You can even check the itegrity of the drive images you have created in order to stay safe.
There are two features that I like the most:
1. The PreOS Start Option, which allows you to recover a system or create a drive clone after booting (a life saver in case of a system disaster)
2. The option to recover an image to a dissimilar hardware (using WinPE).
I haven't found relevant problems so far and it doesn't add annoying ads or restrictions. However, you must take into account that some features require the installation of 3rd party software (which are free too) and the PreOS recovery options on the freeware version are Linux based.

by Alexndr (not verified) on 22. November 2011 - 16:48  (83717)

"US Todo Backup Free"=?
I think you misspelled the program's name.
The correct name is EaseUS Todo Backup Free (v3.5)
The app seems good, but I haven't tested it deep enough
to make a statament. I'll keep you posted.

by Gunnar Grey (not verified) on 23. November 2011 - 16:52  (83787)

Excellent information, and now I know what to look for in a free backup program. Thanks soooo much.

by bluesjunior on 25. November 2011 - 6:39  (83857)

Up to now I have just been using the built in Windows backup function in my Win64 Home Premium OS on a once monthly basis. Could one of you clever young people tell me if that is good enough or would I be better to install one of the backup programs reviewed here in this thread?.

by Jonno (not verified) on 15. December 2011 - 14:43  (85073)

Have just tried Genie Timeline, but it was just to simple. It has limited options for which files IT SELECTS. You cannot use it seemingly to back up particular partitions,folders or files which may be scattered over 2 hd and 4 external HD. The uninstaller also does not work ! So having to stop Services to disable 4 locked dll files and delete each file by hand.This is however great for those whose needs are limited,eg laptops, but not good for anyone else. Now I'll try FBackup which looks a whole lot more customiseable to my needs ie whole drive morrors & specific folders such as USERS folder,which can be backed up to a place of your choosing.

by BLEZ (not verified) on 18. December 2011 - 21:59  (85249)

I've been looking for a new backup program so I've tried Backup Maker, Toucan (standalone version) and FBackup. Of these I find Fbackup easily to be the best. The process of constructing a backup set is much simpler and faster, the program is much more intuitive, and the backup process is much faster in FBackup. There are also some interesting plugins. I do only manual backups, so scheduling is not important to me.

by Anonymousronshor2 (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 22:12  (85324)

I've read all the articles regarding the issue of backing up files on this site and reached the conclusion that the best way for me to back up my files is to use the technique known as mirror.

Most of my files are videos and pictures (which already saved in a
compressed format) so I won't be getting much from the other methods that use compression for the backup.

So for me a simple mirror is the best way to go.

I've downloaded the program that was listed on the top of the list by the auther of the article and tried working with her.
To my surprise I couldn't find the option to backup files using the mirror method, only the complicated methods where available.

Do you know a program that gives the option to backup files in a simple mirror method ?

by pan (not verified) on 23. December 2011 - 0:09  (85752)

Backup Maker is nice program, but there is automatism to restore partial/incremental backup chain...

Example:
job 2011-12-23 00-42.zip
job 2011-12-23 00-44 [part].zip

Restoring to state
"job 2011-12-23 00-44 [part].zip"
only restores/unpacks the file
"job 2011-12-23 00-44 [part].zip"
and not the expected
"job 2011-12-23 00-42.zip"
plus changes in
"job 2011-12-23 00-44 [part].zip"

by Bob Giesen (not verified) on 29. December 2011 - 22:50  (86191)

Wow... Thank you so very much for mentioning Karen's Replicator. I had never heard of this program until I read your post last night. I found out it's been around for several years; it has to be one of the best-kept secrets in the backup software world.

I downloaded it last night and have begun to back up my hard drive with it. What a perfectly wonderful, easy-to-use program. I like that it simply copies the directories (folders) and files to the destination, making it easy to see everything that got copied. For those who have struggled with backing up over a network, Karen's Replicator works beautifully. I am copying everything to a networked USB drive through a rather slow NAS device (Hitachi Simplenet), so I expect it will take awhile to get the first, complete copy done. After that, though, with the flexibility Karen built into this gem, I'm sure everything will be backed up on a regular basis with virtually no effort on my part.

The interface is simple and straightforward -- and so are the instructions, in case you need a bit of help. If people go to the Replicator page at karenware dot com to download the program, there are links to ten related newsletters that Karen wrote over the years. These are recommended reading for the insights into the program. In fact, I so enjoyed Karen's weaving of wit and light humor into her writing that I intend to read more of her newsletters just for enjoyment. Her writing is clear, engaging, and fun. (How often can you say *that* about technical writing?)

As soon as I get a bit of free time, I intend to download and try Karen's other software.

I only wish I had known of Karen and the products of her labor sooner; I would like to have thanked her personally.

by MidnightCowboy on 30. December 2011 - 4:40  (86205)

Unfortunately, this great lady passed away earlier this year.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/ourlives/article.aspx?subjectid=426&articleid=...

by GeneralGeorge (not verified) on 31. December 2011 - 23:51  (86296)

Hi, thanks for great free programs. I am a bit confused with Backup Maker. After initially doing a full backup I wanted to do a partial backup just to include the files I had created since I did the initial full backup. I did a partial but am confused whether it just copied the new files or did it copy the complete folder of any folder that contained a new file. Thanks for your help. Great site

by Ritho on 1. January 2012 - 23:34  (86364)

You need to use the incremental or differential backup types to do partial backups. It then should only copy a new or changed file, not the entirety the folder the file is in. However, if for some reason the date stamp of all the files in a folder have changed even if the files have not been modified, it will copy all the files over again.

by Dougwh (not verified) on 11. January 2012 - 23:09  (87037)

Lots of good information about many free backup programs. I would like to know more about the ones that offer mirror backups. I didn't see any reference to this in any of the reviews and only one reference in the comments. I will be looking at that one but would like more info on others, please.

by AnonymousBackupUser (not verified) on 16. January 2012 - 7:02  (87231)

Hello,

What would be the best freeware to basically start backing up any new or changed files as soon as I attach a specific external drive.

I understand that I would have to setup a backup initially of course but then I want it to be automatic.

I guess Genie Timeline would be good but I have 3 separate users on my pc (my wife, my daughter and myself). I would rather not have to setup backups from each user account but as I understand it, that would be necessary correct?

Regards,

Paul

by AnonymousBackupUser (not verified) on 16. January 2012 - 10:17  (87236)

Hello,

Am I allowed to mention a paid program here in the hope that someone knows of a very similar freeware alternative?

I don't want to break any rules.

Regards,

Paul

by MidnightCowboy on 16. January 2012 - 11:08  (87238)

Allowing commercial programs to be "mentioned" only attracts the spammers. Please list just the features you require and someone will hopefully be able to assist you from there. You will also attract a different segment of help by posting this in the forum too.

by cobak on 16. January 2012 - 16:45  (87250)

www.comodo.com/home/backup-online-storage/comodo-backup.php

Comodo Backup so far definitely seems to be better than any of the ones I have tried on here. It requires registration, and seems to want you to use their cloud storage, but you don't have to install the cloud storage part and you can do a backup to anywhere you want.

by TheOldie on 17. January 2012 - 10:08  (87300)

This is one of the more interesting sites I have come across.

I have tried several of these as I wonder if I am missing out on something but I keep going back to MS own free utility SyncToy http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=15155 It has always performed well for me and never let me down. Granted it can be a bit slow at times but I tend to run it during the night (with the added benefit on these cold mornings that it keeps my computer room warm!!)

So what do these do that SyncToy doesn't - would be interested to know so that I can see if I am missing something.

by Dunkelmann (not verified) on 22. January 2012 - 13:21  (87602)

Backup Maker is the best free program I've tried, but I've not looked at the others here. I've not been using it long but apart from backing up open files I'm happy with it.

If you want mirroring, then use ASCOMP's sister program to Backup Maker, called Synchredible. All you do is synch on way, from source to destination. Only changed programs are copied and it is scheduled with several options.

by Bill H (not verified) on 22. January 2012 - 19:04  (87619)

Backup Maker does a nice job, but I swore off it when an update installed "Incredibar" MyStart. (Yeah, I clicked through the installation too fast.) This not only installs the Incredibar program (which can be removed using the standard Windows uninstall method) but also changes Firefox's home page setting (so much for my choices) *and* modifies Firefox's configuration file to permanently point address bar searches to MyStart. To reset my search preference to Google, I had to resort to messing around with the Firefox configuration file, which appears to the the only way to remove the MyStart "feature". That's not exactly friendly and it's certainly not an obvious way to remove unwanted software.

Technically, Incredibar/MyStart are not malware -- well, I don't think they are -- but they certainly are annoying-ware. Any software that installs extra junk, and installs it in a way designed to be difficult to remove, is not acceptable, so no more Backup Maker for me.

If you do install Backup Maker, beware!

by Geor-G (not verified) on 26. January 2012 - 22:55  (87851)

Very useful and complete program. Thanks for the tip.
I definitely recommend it.
The 4.0 version (Jan-2012)is out now.

by Eileen (not verified) on 28. January 2012 - 21:48  (87957)

He's not necessarily mistaken, if what he means is he can't back up to a network or Net destination.

I have Windows 7 Home Premium, and its Backup/Restore utility, under guidelines for setting backup destination, provides only local physical media options. For the "Network Location" option, it says: "You can only save your backups on a network location on Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 7 Enterprise."

And those upgrades aren't cheap.

by mingram55 on 29. January 2012 - 18:03  (87992)

My question is there a backup standard that several programs could restore from? I am just wondering if I start using one program but later decide to use something else, is there a format that works across several programs?

by Ritho on 31. January 2012 - 0:39  (88065)

No there is not really a standard. Your best bet is to choose something that makes mirror style backups or archives in a zip format. They any files can be restored manually.

Some backup products use a proprietary

format for their archives, and these must be restored by the same software with with which it was made.

Ritho

by Fred Smyth (not verified) on 4. February 2012 - 1:38  (88261)

I think you may have missed the best pick. I've look at several of these, but I'm using Cobian Backup.
Check it out.

http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm

It's free, allows scheduled backups, FTP upload, and much more.

by RB (not verified) on 9. February 2012 - 1:51  (88556)

I tried fbackup, and despite its promise to only back up files that have changed, it NEVER did this. Instead, when backing up my audio library, it deletes the entire existing backup and starts from scratch, taking about 48 hours to complete the backup, when only a couple of gigs had changed. There was nothing screwy going on with the modified date on the files, it just seemed to ignore them. I am uninstalling and trying other options.

by Jim Bracher (not verified) on 14. February 2012 - 17:52  (88862)

Don't install Backup Maker!

It insists on installing some weather app and some browser "default tab" crap. I want a backup program, not more crap.

by John Peate (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 17:54  (89127)

The first time I installed Backupmaker, i suffered from the Incredibar which I removed with great difficulty.

Just tried it again and find it impossible for amateurs. Setting up is ridiculous unless one knows what all the questions mean to a user.

Then, after by guess and by God finishing it I can find no way to start the programme and do a bacup. Whatever I do simple brings up the setup screen.