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

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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
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 25. January 2010 - 10:26  (42009)

Yes, I have found the Replicator to be very nice. I particularly like the global exclusions feature.

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 Anonymous on 29. January 2010 - 20:40  (42381)

I have been using GFIBackup for many months now - found it excellent. But yesterday, on recommendation of WindowsSecrets, I downloaded & ran DrWeb Cureit.
It reported GFIAgent as probably Dloader.Trojan!
Any advice? Thank you.

by Ritho on 30. January 2010 - 20:59  (42435)

I believe it is a false positive. I will look into more, but in the mean time you can take the file it reports as being the actual downloader and test it at virustotal.com

by Anonymous on 30. January 2010 - 21:33  (42437)

Thank you for that link. The result is that only Dr Web indicates any problem, all other are "found nothing", so I will re-activate it.
Again, many thanks.

by Anonymous on 6. February 2010 - 17:40  (42984)

I've tried many different backup solutions/software. But I always find my self going back to a simple "scheduled task" & DriveImageXML.

It's simple, free, uses decent (not great) compression, and is portable. It's slower then ghost, but allot more flexible. So it requires you to create your own "recovery boot disk/cd/dvd/usb/etc" device to do a FULL bare metal restore. But this is a achieved very easily with UBCD4Win :)

by Ritho on 6. February 2010 - 17:45  (42985)

DriveImageXML is a drive imaging program not a backup program. It is already reviewed in a different category.

by syntax_error on 14. February 2010 - 1:48  (43564)

Gets a bit tricky with different categories, when some software tends to overlap.

Macrium Reflect for example, apart from producing a drive or partition image, also allows you to mount the image in windows explorer and view or restore an individual file.

FreeFileSync does not belong here either, yet I sync my "User" folder on C drive to give a copy on an external HDD. If that's not a backup I don't know what is.

by Ritho on 14. February 2010 - 5:55  (43578)

Yes, I think the problem is with the word "backup". It's a very general word. While "Drive Image" and "Synchronise" are much more specific terms. There are other terms that are used for backup type procedures, "Mirror," "Clone," "Versioning" "Replicate" even "Copy." .

A drive image is a form of backup, so is synchronizing. A RAID is a form of Backup too, and just to make things more complicated there are both Hardware and Software RAIDS. For want of a better term I often refer to the programs in this category as traditional backup programs.

Since we don't want to duplicate work here, we try to keep the categories separate. I would say, using a method of elimination, if you can't call it a drive image program, if it does not do bidirectional synchronization, or hard disk cloning, it is a "traditional" backup program.

Ritho
Editor

by Anonymous on 15. February 2010 - 19:42  (43693)

Define backup, please. I use DriveImageXML *as* a Backup program/solution. Because well thats what it does it makes a complete copy of everything on 1 or multiple *partitions* (not full drives). And you can restore everything OR only a single file.

by Ritho on 15. February 2010 - 21:08  (43694)

My apologies for any confusion. I should have said regular, standard, or traditional style file backup program. It is just a lot to type and explain each time. We have different categories for different kinds of backup programs. Drive Imaging, Traditional Style Backup, and File or Folder Synchronization.

You might think of them as different in scope. Drive Imaging focuses on the Big Picture, a whole partition or drive. Traditional "backup" programs focus on protecting large chunks user data, sometimes in real time, but you would not usually use them to back up your whole OS. Synchronization programs are used for individual files and folders, and can be use both as a backup, and to keep identical copies of files on two or more different computers. We don't see the different categories here as being in competition with each other but rather as being complementary to each other.

The important thing is to find one or two solutions that works for you and use them. and to do so regularly. Because as they say, "There are only two types of computer users, those who backup, and those who will."

Wishing you the best!
Ritho
Editor

by Anonymous on 19. February 2010 - 20:55  (43988)

Have you tried Ezback-it-up? It is a good little backup program, simple to operate, you can drag and drop files or folders to copy. I like the fact that it does not compress files and leaves directory structure intact. It does have an exclusion feature. Unfortunately it is no longer support, current version released in 2004.

http://www.rdcomp.net/ezbackitup/

EZBack-it-up is a personal file backup utility. It is designed to be very easy to learn and use. It is not an archival tool that compresses all your files and folders into one file, but instead, it copies your data to a destination of your choice where you can readily access your backed up files any time you need. All directory structure is preserved and you can optionally choose to delete files from the target that are not in the source. EZBack-it-up includes a built-in scheduler, command-line switches, logging functionality, and more.

by Anonymous on 22. February 2010 - 7:09  (44161)

I see that you've evaluated your selections for whether they validate files, but you do not indicate which of them have validation features, nor the method by which validation is performed. I'm used to Syncback's wonderful validation features, but am tired of working around the limitations of the freeware version. Which of your nominations here perform md5 or similar file validation?

by Ritho on 22. February 2010 - 11:52  (44173)

You are certainly right! I did say I evaluated their file verification features, and then turned around an did not mention them. I try to keep the reviews concise, but leaving that out was definitely a flub, and something I will rectify soon. Until then, this post will serve the purpose.

GFI uses Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) to verify your data as the backup is being made. This is a very good method.

Fbackup also verifies your data, I am uncertain what type of verification system it uses.

I believe Cobain has some type of verification, but I have forgotten what I found out about it.

The I have not run across any references to file verification in regards to Filehamster, and Toucan. That is not to say that they don't do it, but it is not well documented if they do.

Thanks for pointing the omission of this info.
Ritho
Editor

by Anonymous on 22. February 2010 - 23:03  (44203)

Ah, thanks a lot Ritho, for your quick response!

by Anonymous on 1. March 2010 - 11:22  (44783)

Is there any free backup software supporting SFTP ?

by chrisgiz on 2. March 2010 - 16:47  (44875)

Ritho,

Thanks for this thread, it's priceless, as so is the Best Free Folder Synchronization Program thread.

I've been using SecondCopy (paid version) for years, it's a rock-solid program but the developer can't be bothered to implement VSS... This has put me in several situations where important "live" files were lost to crashes.

I've been testing tried GFI Backup for a few months but it has shortcomings that truly baffle me. For example, it offers to backup Documents and Settings files (not all needed but not necessarily a bad idea either) but it *always* finishes the job with "warnings" that "Verify failed" on a bunch of these files! This seems to indicate a poor implementation of VSS. I don't think that's acceptable and I'd recommend removing this program from your Top Pick. Also, GFI runs THREE SERVICES at all times. Not good.

As few weeks ago you posted in the Synchro thread about QuickShadow Backup. I downloaded it from http://quicklytech.com/ and I have been testing it (version 1.2.6) It's a small download (1.4 MB) and it takes less than 3 MB on the drive but it's a brilliant, very fast program. I agree that it is very promising, but I do believe that some quirks need to be ironed out before it can be recommended here. For example, when I set up a backup for a data folder on my C drive to my G drive, the program forces the backup to go to G:\QuickShadow backups\C\Data

I do NOT like to have another "C" drive anywhere on my machine, even as a subfolder!

Also, there seems to be no way to simply activate/start ONE of the backups you have set up. All I see is the "force synchronize" option.

The developer does not have any active forum which I think is a serious mistake.

I was delighted though to see that they will be implementing VSS in v 1.3. (not sure when it's due though.)

Finally, for those who want/need extra features the cost is far more reasonable than other software (Single and home users, for up to 3 PCs: US$15) but here again we have a quirk, the versioning option only allows 9 older versions of files...

I would encourage other Gizmatics to try it and post here. I'd love to know what you think.

by Ritho on 2. March 2010 - 16:54  (44876)

Thanks for your input on Quickshadow, it is greatly appreciated.

I have not encountered the problem with GFI you mentioned. Have you reported it to the developer?

Very nice post by the way. Have any interest in working as an editor for our site?

Ritho
Editor

by mc (not verified) on 10. March 2010 - 20:22  (45331)

Just installed a new free backup program Back4Sure Version 1.0

http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Back-Up-and-Recovery/Back4Sure.shtml

It has a small footprint, plenty of useful features, a clean interface which is easy to use for beginners.
It can be installed or run as a portable application.
I recommend it!

by Anonymous on 11. March 2010 - 5:20  (45356)

I highly recommend FreeFileSync that is a good tool backuping files or disk to other places.

by Ritho on 11. March 2010 - 9:44  (45368)

Thanks for posting this. Too bad it does not do any file integrity verification.

by Ritho on 11. March 2010 - 9:45  (45369)
by Anonymous on 13. March 2010 - 6:35  (45475)

I've just downloaded Paragon's Backup & Recovery 10.1 (free edition). I haven't used it yet, but was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on it. Thanks.

by Ritho on 13. March 2010 - 10:47  (45486)

It is reviewed in the drive imaging category (Paragon DBE). The review there is a little out of date. http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm

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 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 30. March 2010 - 15:31  (46507)

Question for you guys:
I have a lot of random mp3s with non-English file names (like Chinese, Korean, etc) and was wondering which of the backup programs you've reviewed support that. I noticed that you mentioned Cobain did, but you said it wasn't that good for the inexperienced user and it doesn't have a restore function. Are there any other good backup programs that support Unicode characters in filenames?

Thanks in advance!

by Ritho on 30. March 2010 - 19:50  (46526)

I am really unsure about the extent of their unicode support. Your best bet is to contact the developers themselves, as these types of things are often not documented well.

A similar situation came up with one of the reviewed programs (e.g. PureSync) in the Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility. The developer claimed unicode support, but the user had problems with Icelandic characters if I remember correctly, and he had problems with some of the files.

So while your situation is not super common, it is not something that developers should over look, so ask around on their forums or send a email to their support.

Sorry I could not be of more help.
Ritho

by Anonymous on 31. March 2010 - 0:30  (46548)

Hey guys,

Im glad i found this Backup Software Review, i think you should check out Dmailer Backup Free. It seems to offer much more compaird to other free applications mentioned above.

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