Best Free File-Based Backup Program

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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 - EaseUS - AOMEI
  • Incremental & Differential Backup - Comodo, Backup Maker
  • AES Security Encryption - Comodo, Backup Maker

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

Recommended Reading:

  Read this article in Spanish (Español)

 

In a Hurry?

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

 

Discussion

TIP — Can't Find What You Need in the Choices Below? Try Our Extended List of Backup Programs.


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.
 


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.
 


AOMEI Backupper Well worth a mention in this category because of its additional ability to quickly make backups of files and folders. The latest edition at time of writing is 2.0.1 and now has a few extra features such as the ability now to select multiple files and folders at the same time for backup along with support for performing a backup or restore across a network or NAS (Network Attached Storage), in addition you are now able to import and export all the backup tasks in XML format. The developers at AOMEI are constantly improving on their software whilst still maintaining a clean and easy to use GUI.

Since version 2.8.0 they added the ability to schedule the synchronization of files and folders automatically to HDD, USB and NAS, the current version is 3.2

Please follow this link for the full full review and rating: AOMEI Backupper.  


Related Products and Links

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Quick Selection Guide

Backup Maker (Personal Edition)

4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

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.
6.0.129
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.
v6.0.129 Released 1st January 2016 View the change log here See the following website for free plugins for your favorite program. http://www.backup4all.com/en/backup-plugins.html
Win XP, Vista, 7, 8 / Win Server 2000-2008

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.
6.1
113 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Languages: English, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano & 日本語
 

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

Downloaded the Comodo software but the website is degenerate. You cannot create a User Account - just loops back to the Sign In Page... contacting Comodo is also difficult and when you do they just say there nothing we can do?

Does not deserve 5 stars!

Well you can't really judge any software by the website it is on even if it is the company's website, I doubt they actually built the website in the first place though I do agree they should hire somebody to fix it as it is a problem and are probably loosing some potential paying customers also.

FBackup has been updated to version 6.0.133 (2016.03.14).

Any major changes with that ? sorry don't have time to look right now but will do later, thanks for the heads up.

Comodo Backup Registration problem

I was unable to Register for the "FREE 10 GB Online Storage account". I repeatedly received "Oops! An error occured. Please try again later." just to the right of the Register button on the page.

I have tried for days, with Chrome and IE, with the same result.

Suggestions?

Happened to me today. I called their tech support and the first thing they asked was had I paid for it. No, it is Free. They told me it is free for the first 90 days, but you have to process the CC first, then remember to cancel before the 90 days. Who needs 90 days worth of backups?

Yes that is another method I don't like, granted companies need to make their money somehow but having to register a CC first always makes me dubious... as they know a high percentage of people will forget to cancel and they will at least get one payment out of them... Slightly off topic but worth a mention if you ever buy anything from anywhere be it online or at the mall always use a Credit Card as in the ones that you have a spending limit on and pay the balance monthly (or in instalments) as that way you have the greatest protection from fraud or arguments over faulty goods... It is easy to issue what is known as a "Charge Back" (there are certain rules and agreements but this is not the place to go into specific details) A Debit Card (often wrongly called a Credit Card) is treated the same way as if you had paid in Cash ! What they don't tell you is a Debit Card transaction actually takes 3 days before the funds leave your actual bank ! but your balance is updated almost instantly. I was a fraud investigator for a number of years with a large online company, this is how I know the ins-and-outs and only posting this for information value guys.
Hmm I have not heard of that happening before, just a thought do you have cookies disabled in those browsers or even location tracking enabled with IE11 ? that could cause said error... it also depends on what part of the world you are in they may have registrations blocked from where you are if so I would suggest to use a "proxy" in order to bypass it... another thought is some people "hijack" / "Spoof" your email address without you knowing for various purposes so it might be blocked / blacklisted try a different email address maybe ? Please let me know how you get on with this I would be interested to know, Thank You.

FBackup has been updated to version 6.0.129 (version 6.0, released on 2016.01.25, was a major update to version 5; full changelog at http://www.fbackup.com/forum/fbackup-6-t8540.html).

Thanks for the heads up on that.

I suggest that CrashPlan should be included in this review. I have used many backup programs, and have found CrashPlan to be by far the best.

With the free version you can backup to multiple different destinations - External Hard drive, another computer on your home network, Network Attached Storage, a friends computer. The latter gives you OFFSITE BACKUP FOR FREE!. Once the initial backup has been made, subsequent backups are extremely fast as the program used block de-duplication in addition to incrementals. It can be configured never to delete backed up files and you can restore from a large number of previous versions (also configurable). It is very light on system resources - I am totally unaware of it running and I have backups to triggered every 15 minutes! It uses Shadow Copy to copy open files

This is strictly a file backup program - it does not do image backups

The only downside is the rather unusual user interface.

It might be a good idea to have CrashPlan reviewed here. What I can't understand is why Code42's own features comparison makes it look worse than you say. See http://www.code42.com/crashplan/features/compare/.

Free CrashPlan also gets a high proportion of dissatisfied users.

I generally don't care much for programs where you have to register but then again I guess that is in order to get access to the free 30 day on-line backup they have... From the first page of user reviews on their site I read they were positive, though I usually don't take much notice of comments on the actual site as I know of some companies in other areas who write the comments themselves, I am not saying they do just saying that I know it happens at times... I shall download it in the next few days and take a look at it anyway and see about doing a review here.

Does CrashPlan offer versioning or is only the last version saved?

Crashplan advertises infinite versioning from cloud backup. I assume you can set the number of versions for other backup destinations.

In addition to Crashplan, I use two other Time-Machine-Like real-time backup programs on various machines, to back up to my local NAS.

I've been using AutoVer for years. It has a clunky interface, but does versioned real-time backups to networked storage. It also provides backup to FTP, but I haven't used that. Unfortunately, its author doesn't visit his forum very often, so it's teetering on abandonware.

A program I've been using since then on my two latest machines for the last few years is Yadis! Backup. Same thing, versioned, real-time backup. It has been reasonably solid. But, I do need to delete the log file regularly. After it grows past a few GB the program crashes on startup. Deleting that file fixes the issue.

Both AutoVer and Yadis! Backup are free.

Drake Christensen

Would like to try Comodo but install always fail on windows 8.1

http://www.freefilesync.org/ cant be ignored. been using it past 2 years to backup my files to a networked pc set for that purpose,ext to main house.
Its cross platform.
It works well

Hello...tech-challenged senior here. Don't everyone groan please, but haven't backed up anything for over a year because the one time I tried something went goofy. By goofy I mean it seemed to fail. All this time later I can't remember exactly what happened but I just let it go and haven't tried again. What would be recommended for someone like me, who doesn't understand half of what you're all saying? Have Win7 64 bit, need something easy to understand and to run. I do have an external hard drive that has been waiting to be used. Not even sure what the difference between differential and incremental...think I understand real time and really do not want zip files, which is another subject as I can't seem to open mine.

Remember, backups are worthless; restores are priceless. A differential backup backs up only the files that changed since the last full back. For example, suppose you do a full backup on Sunday. On Monday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, on Tuesday you back up only the files that changed since Sunday, and so on until the next full backup. Differential backups are quicker than full backups because so much less data is being backed up. But the amount of data being backed up grows with each differential backup until the next full back up. If you do an incremental backup on Tuesday, you only back up the data that changed since the incremental backup on Monday. So, each differential backup goes back to the date of the last Full backup while an incremental backup only goes back to the previous incremantal backup. You need a Full backup followed by one differential backup while you need the Full one plus all the incremental ones done since the full one.

This could find a place in the Introduction of the article.
I think probably the easiest to use is AOMEI they have extensive help sections also... the best for you would be to just go with full backups and retain at least two versions... Differential means it will compare changed files and update the image, Incremental means it will do the same but store X number of changes also that can get rather messy if you don't fully understand or the system is used for work on a daily basis... like I say your best course of action is to just do a full backup.

One thing that I do not care for in AOMEI is the absence (at least I have not found it) of the ability to automatically delete backup files as the disk fills up. Very useful feature which has kept me in the Macrium Reflect camp as it also has the other AOMEI features. Agree, however, that AOMEI is more user friendly.

As far as I recall the paid for version does have that feature... what I actually did to get round that was to make a batch file and schedule it to run once a week and it would automatically delete the oldest backup to make more space.

Bottom line is that all of the programs work and it is just a matter of personal preference as to which one appeals. Users should try everything and kick the tires. Then they will be in a good position to decide what works best for them.

That basically is it yes... I have used all of these over the years and others for various periods of time depending on which one suits my needs.

Purchase another external drive, and alternate which drive you image into.
Don't bother with File Backups, and remove incremental from the English language.
Use a Backup program such as the free Seagate DiskWizard (it must see at least one Seagate drive connected, or it won't run)
They also have a free version for WD, if that is your brand of drives.
Make a bootable CD, and use that 'version' of the DiskWizard
If you post on this web page, I can provide more help there (as this web page is solely for file based backing up) -
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-cloning-software.htm

Rob
PS I am older than both of you

Thank you for participating and offering your advice... The Segate and Western Digital Disk Wizards are very good software I agree however it is not exactly " Freeware" as you have to at least purchase or own aforementioned drives in the first place...

classic, it sounds like you need more than a backup of data, documents and such but rather a full backup to your external drive. Any of the disk imaging programs (http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-cloning-software.htm#Quick_Selection_Guide) will do the job. After that you may or may not find that you need a file backup program and if needed this article can help you choose. But first things first. Just another old geezer's opinion.

Thank you ole, crombierob, and Andy R...All good info and I will go to techsupport link within the next few days. Do have a WD My Passport external drive, and also a Buffalo Mini Station hard drive (forgot about that one).

ole...have found old geezers, and ladies, usually have a lot of info if one takes the time to ask and then listen.
Thanx Andy R for explaining the difference...it actually makes sense now.

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