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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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Editor

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

Tags

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

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Comments

by Anonymous on 24. December 2009 - 8:04  (39335)

This is properly called NTbackup. Yes you can use it for simple backup, but "is it as good as programs reviewed above?" No. If you find it meets your needs, then go ahead and use it, but beware of some of the problems other users have experienced, such as unreliable scheduling, difficulty restoring files, and worst of all corruption.

NTbackup uses a proprietary format with the .BKF file extension. This file format has been notorious for file corruption. There is a proliferation of tools that have been written just for the purpose of repairing or extracting files from corrupt .BKF files.

by Anonymous on 27. January 2010 - 6:14  (42189)

Just wondering if you know of any *freeware* tools for extracting corrupt BKF files.

by Ritho on 27. January 2010 - 7:00  (42194)

Question moved to our freeware help forum, for more exposure, and quicker responses.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/i-want-freeware-program-t...

You can view it as a guest, but you will have to create a user account if you want to respond.

All the Best!
Ritho
Editor

by chris.p on 13. December 2009 - 17:55  (38553)

Anyone know what the situation is with these tools re. not deleting files that no longer exist in the backed-up source directory? I need a backup tool that absolutely will never delete any files ever.

chris.p

by Anonymous on 8. December 2009 - 2:16  (38047)

A con for GFI Backup (Home Edition) is that it doesn't support unicode files, yet.

by Anonymous on 28. November 2009 - 16:10  (37469)

Downloaded GFI, and it stops working at 3% completed.

by ThaSniper on 22. November 2009 - 23:44  (37134)

Does any of the reviewed softwares do System State backup? If not, does anyone knows of some software that would do the job? Thank you.

by Anonymous on 25. March 2010 - 14:31  (46195)

Paragon have free software for Backup/Restore plus other freebies.

http://www.paragon-software.com/free/

by Ritho on 3. December 2009 - 14:50  (37768)

Do you mean System State Backup like an alternative for Windows built in System Restore? You can easily back up your registry, but a full system backup is better handled with a drive imaging program. http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm

Ritho
Editor

by Anonymous on 30. October 2009 - 20:57  (35516)
by CyberWolf64 (not verified) on 23. August 2010 - 18:20  (56589)

Um, I just looked at their site, and the information about the program states at the beginning of the features list: DOES NOT BACKUP OR RESTORE SYSTEM FILES, I consider this to be a big red flag to me. And I also saw NO MENTION of if it supports VSS. So, I would only consider using this for say My Documents and any other personal files, but nothing major.

by Ritho on 7. November 2009 - 19:50  (36181)

Nice find! I will definitely consider this one in my next review. Anyone who tests this please come back and tell us about your experiences.

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