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.
 


 


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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.

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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 Paul B. (not verified) on 5. October 2010 - 21:49  (59083)

Personal Backup is a very smartly-designed program. I want to like it, a lot. But although I'm not a tech newbie, I find the Help on this program to be terminally cryptic. No matter how hard I try, I get lost trying to decipher the set up options. It may be because the author's native language appears to be German, I don't know. But I wish it would do a bunch more hand-holding with the user. It would be an awesome program. As it stands, I'm going to have to abandon it for something more directly undertandable.

by Anonymous on 4. October 2009 - 20:00  (33939)

Comodo BackUp Version 2.0 is now out - I would very much like to see your comments as it seems pretty thorough to me.
IG

by Anonymous on 30. March 2010 - 13:21  (46499)

Comodo 2.2 is a disappointing offering. While the user-interface was spiffed up, the functionality took a major step back. Previous (1.x) versions offered incremental backups, this version does not. The user interface smartly steps you through creating a backup "script" and allows you to schedule it. In my my environment, I'm primarily concerned with My Documents content. I've discovered that if files are added to a backed-up folder (My Documents in my case), they do not get backed up because the new file is not in the "script". Worse yet, if a file is removed from a backed-up folder, the program errors with a code 67 'File Not Found', because the "script" was looking to backup the file and it was missing. The "script" needs to be remade every time there is content change in the folder. Very poor program right now.

by Anonymous on 24. September 2009 - 22:10  (33245)

I like a program called LazyMirror.

It uses extra space on the backup drive to store old versions of files. Stores a copy of deleted files.

by Anonymous on 24. September 2009 - 10:43  (33218)

The GFI-link points on neobytesolutions.com/

Erik

by MidnightCowboy on 24. September 2009 - 12:26  (33219)

Thanks for pointing this out - I've repaired the link now

by Anonymous on 7. September 2009 - 18:04  (32296)

I'm very partial to Karen's Replicator. http://www.karenware.com/

by Anonymous on 15. November 2009 - 1:35  (36637)

While Karens Replicator is a great copy tool, it really doesnt do a "backup" just a simple copy. It doesnt offer incremental or differential backups, but does a great job of copying data from one drive to another on a scheduled basis.

Personally, I think it does a great job but I wish that it had intelligence for syncing files from one location to another. It would then be my perfect copy/sync solution and along with a good disk imaging tool, would be all I need for my systems. I still use Karens tool, but do a total copy of my data partition every night to an external drive.

by Anonymous on 11. November 2009 - 18:01  (36428)

+1 vote for Karen's replicator. :thumbs up smiley here:

by Anonymous on 11. October 2009 - 20:07  (34360)

I've always liked it too. Best part is the program assumes you know what you want to do and doesn't ask you a lot of silly questions. Karen Kenworthy is a very talented lady

by Anonymous on 30. August 2009 - 17:13  (31915)

Is Filehamster still freeware? On their site is only 30 days free trial ver.

by mr6n8 on 30. August 2009 - 21:58  (31918)

I find it pretty confusing, but according to this forum post, dated 8/26/2009, by a developer there is still a freeware version. The trial gives plus functionality for 30 days then reverts to the freeware version.
http://support.mogware.net/index.php?PHPSESSID=29d055c66992377e9e50af6cc...

But I see nothing on their site about a freeware version or what limitations it would have.

by Anonymous on 6. September 2009 - 11:15  (32227)

I loved File Hamster - thus if nothing changes on their website, I would vote for removal from Gizmo's freeware website.

by mincevv on 26. August 2010 - 10:33  (56753)

Maybe replace it with AutoVer?
http://beanland.net.au/AutoVer/

by Anonymous on 26. August 2009 - 22:38  (31591)

What about Windows Backup (Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup)? It is free, as long as you have purchased your Windows XP - don't know if it is present in Vista -, it is installed with the system, so you don't need additional space for a new backup solution and it does the job. Anyone else would like to see a review of Windows Backup added?
Cheers,
Arnaldo

by Anonymous on 9. August 2009 - 13:50  (26695)

What about Seagate Replica hard drive which constantly backs up your complete PC or multiple PCs as mentioned in Popular Science June 2009. It seems to be the ultimately simplified backup solution. It is not exactly on the topic under discussion, namely free software but the prospect of ease of use is enticing.

by Anonymous on 9. August 2009 - 1:29  (26664)

Paragon System backup 2010 rc.

by Anonymous on 4. August 2009 - 4:43  (26228)

I use Fabs AutoBackup. Small, free, easy to use, and portable. Also runs in a PE environment.

http://www.fpnet.fr/index2.php?lang=en&section=software

by Anonymous on 21. July 2009 - 13:13  (25502)

Titan 1.5 suits my needs perfectly. Mind you, I don't need more than basic features. But I really like the fact that when you select the folders you want to back up, it starts calculating the space needed for the entire backup. This helps in one major way for me: since the space needed for my backup is much more than half of my external backup drive (more around 3/4), I cannot do more than one version of the backup - meaning I use the option to add the new files to the backup, AND delete the files that aren't there anymore. So before executing the backup task, which I do manually, I verify the needed space. If the size would be much different in comparison (because of a virus for example), it would mean there is a problem and I would not execute the backup.

I'm using Titan under Windows 7 64bit without any problems.

by Beev on 16. August 2009 - 14:55  (27233)

I used Titan Backup 1.5 not too long ago and unfortunately it fell short for me! It backed up my Mozilla directory (C:\Users\default user\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla) to a memory stick so that all of my plugins, addons and bookmarks would be backed up in the event of a reinstallation or similar. I used Titans restore feature after a fresh vista installation and the restore function failed, not only did it not restore the mozilla directory that was backed up, it also deletd the backup after failing!

Luckily I had an image of the drive backed up via macrium reflect with which I was able to mount as a virtual drive in windows explorer and then copy the folder over to my c partition where everything went as smooth as I expected the titan restore to be.

I think I will stick to manually going to tht directory and backing up and restoring manually from now on!

by oblivion on 1. June 2009 - 13:27  (22606)

The new version of Titan has a slightly worrying clause in its EULA relating to allowing it to phone home for unspecified reasons at various times. I'm less than convinced that I want to let this happen and therefore -- regretfully -- suggest either sticking with the last version of Titan or switching to one of the alternatives.

Fbackup isn't quite as feature rich as Titan/GFI but has a capable scheduler (which was my main reason for using Titan originally) and I've switched to it -- I'll come back and tell you if it lets me down!

If you don't care about schedulers or are happier rolling your own, Toucan's under pretty much constant development and, although it's not quite as intuitive as the others, can be run from the commandline and therefore the Windows Scheduler can be used to push it around while you're in bed. (It can also handle file and folder synchronisation, which is my main use for it.)

by mjt328 on 22. May 2009 - 19:50  (22164)

IMPORTANT NEWS FOR TITAN BACKUP USERS:

According to an email received earlier today from GFI Software, Titan Backup will no longer be developed, and will be replaced by GFI Backup.

Here is the complete contents of that message.

-------------------------------------------

Dear Titan Backup user,

We would like to inform you of some important changes to Titan Backup.

GFI Software has been working with Titan for some time and has made significant investments in the technology, which it has now re-launched under GFI. GFI will continue making major investments in this technology.

We would like to inform you that GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition has now been launched. This version is being offered as full-featured FREEWARE for PC home users.

GFI Backup has retained all the functionality you are accustomed to in Titan Backup and also includes additional feature and improvements*. We invite you to try out GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition, which you can download from: http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm.

Please note that you cannot back up with the Titan Backup version and restore with the GFI version. Also, you cannot import your settings from Titan Backup to GFI Backup, as there have been major changes to the configuration file formats.

You therefore need to install GFI Backup and reconfigure, as follows: Download and use GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition, and run a new back up of your existing files, re-creating your backup and synchronization tasks as needed. We highly recommend this option.

Alternatively, if you choose to back up with your Titan Backup product or you need to restore your files so they can then be backed up with GFI Backup you can:
manually restore files backed up with the Titan Backup product; or
use the latest build of the Titan Backup product (v2.5.0.117); to get this version, please email eblaga@gfi.com – it is not available on the GFI website.
Both Titan Backup and GFI Backup can be installed on the same machine.

There will be no further development of the Titan Backup product. GFI Backup replaces this product and we will only enhance and maintain the GFI Backup product.

For support issues related to GFI Backup – Home Edition, please visit our support forums.

You can find more information about GFI Backup 2009 and other GFI products on our website: http://www.gfi.com/.

Thank you,

The GFI Software team

by PsychEroc on 18. May 2009 - 22:43  (21820)

Titan Backup is now in version 2.5 and has been renamed to GFI and is now really freeware for everyone: http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm/

by Anonymous on 25. May 2009 - 20:15  (22312)

GFIbackup Home Edition is NOT freeware for everyone. It appears to only work on the HOME EDITIONS of windows. ie NOT Vista Ultimate or XP Pro. I suggest you check the forums before installing.

by Ritho on 19. August 2009 - 19:38  (31181)

GFI Home Edition is only meant for personal use not commercial use, but it will work on XP Pro and Vista Ultimate. The EULA makes this very confusing but the GFI team has said they will revise it to make it clearer. As it stands now, you can install it on all versions of Windows without worries as long as you are using it at home. A commercial version is being worked on presently for use in the business environment.

Ritho
Editor-Gizmo's Freeware Team

by PsychEroc on 25. May 2009 - 21:55  (22314)

They claim it works on: "Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional SP2, SP3 (x86 and the x64 versions) and all editions of Windows Vista except for Vista Starter (x86 and the x64 versions)." (http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm/backup-hm-features.htm)
But it's always a good idea to check the support forums first.

by Anonymous on 18. May 2009 - 7:41  (21767)

Came across this recently. http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm/free-backup-software/
Appears to be a rebadged Titan.

by Anonymous on 1. May 2009 - 14:23  (20894)

Hi,

Has anyone tried to uninstall Titan Backup? I get the error “Could not open INSTALL.LOG file” and I cannot uninstall it.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

by Anonymous on 4. May 2009 - 21:03  (21058)

Here is Titan support reply

Thank you for contacting us.

This is a Wise installer issue that appears only on some computers. If you do an Internet search you will find that you are not the only one that came across this problem when installing various software built with Wise installer.

Some quick fixes for this problem would be:

1. Go to the Titan Backup installation folder (usually C:\Program files\Titan Backup) and check if the files "install.log" and "unwise.exe" are there. If they are, drag the file "install.log" over "unwise.exe" with the mouse and release the mouse button. Please let us know if one of these files is missing.

2.
a) select Start->Run
b) click the Browse button
c) find "unwise.exe" in the Titan Backup installation folder (usually C:\Program files\Titan Backup\unwise.exe), click OK in the "Browse" window
d) after that you should see in the Run window the following: "C:\Program files\Titan Backup\unwise.exe"
e) edit this line, so it looks like: "C:\Program files\Titan Backup\unwise.exe" install.log (after "the path" put a space and type install.log)
f) click OK in Run window

3. Copy the "install.log" file from the Titan Backup installation folder to your desktop. Then delete the "install.log" file from the original location. Now run the "unwise.exe" and this should prompt you for the "install.log" file location. So, just point it to your desktop, then highlight and open.

If you still have problems, then you can simply manually delete the files.

The second fix solved the problem. Congratulations to Titan for their quick and effective support, even for a free software and when a user wants to uninstall it.

by Anonymous on 30. April 2009 - 14:40  (20839)

Synkron (http://synkron.sourceforge.net/) is yet another free alternative - worth a look at and try.

A similar one, maybe not as good, is ozSync:

http://nebula1979.fortunecity.it/

All the best from bRaZiL. ;)

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