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.


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.
 


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.

Version 2.8.0 is now available and they have added the ability to schedule the synchronization of files and folders automatically to HDD, USB and NAS.

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


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.

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.
5.3.723
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.
v5.3.723 Released 10th February 2015 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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Average: 4.1 (290 votes)

Comments

Personal Backup by Dr. J Rathlev needs to be looked at. Simple wizard for beginners. Lots of options for advanced users. Copy, full backup, differential and incremental, all for free. Amazing speed. What Ease US TODO backup took more than three hours to backup one of my drives, Personal backup completed it in just 44 mins.(without compression) even verified!! Fantastic. I looked at several backup apps and liked and am I now using Ascomp Backup Maker and Personal Backup. Both German!

Thank you for the suggestion. Please try to include a link for a new software that you suggest, so that other users and moderators don't have to hunt for it. Here is the link for Personal Backup:

http://personal-backup.rathlev-home.de/index-e.html

Did you bother to read the previous comments about Yadis, AutoVer, Cobian, etc. or do you just fly off the handle?

Is the PC enough for everyone?

I for one would certainly not get all wound up when "free" software does something that I found annoying, the solution is to either find something else or contact the developer and give them your feedback minus the obscenity's of course.

Have you tried FreeFileSync ? that now offers real time synchronisation.

Watch your language. If you don't have any respect for yourself and least have some for others. This site supports safe family content.

Thank you for supporting our family friendly site policy Joe. It's always a shame when folks are unable to express themselves without using an "f" word. The objectionable content has now been removed. MC - Site Manager.

Hello,

What do you think of the inbuilt backup and restore in Windows?

I've got Windows 7 and it seems fairly easy to use.

Regards,

Paul

Windows imaging is quite good in Win7 actually.... however the time you need it most is when things go wrong and if you cannot log into the recovery console then you have zero chance of being able to restore that backup image making it essentially useless!

Many years ago I thought "ah yes just use the built in tools" rather than a 3rd party and found out the hard way it is not a good backup solution... for a long time I used to use Norton Ghost when it was just a DOS only program the things you could do with that were amazing and it worked correctly eveytime I used to build factory restore disks for people using a corporate licence.... however that was a long time ago and paid for software then and now... Now I use AOMEI personally "touch wood" it has never let me down although I would like to see some more advanced features such as control over if you wish to reinstate the MBR or not etc, but for daily use as a backup solution it's perfect... All the others I have reviewed here are good also at the end of the day it is down to personal choice and exactly what you need the imaging program to do for you, In a multi boot environment for example I think Macrium would be a better choice since upon restore you have more options...

Nice Review. I'm not a novice but found the Comodo interface annoying. It hides folder selection and doesn't save your settings in a normal way. Unless you create a schedule, they vanish if you select something else. It also ignored some of the settings I made, like it decided to back up to a User doc folder on C. NOT a useful backup location that I'd set otherwise.

I've been using Cobain happily for some years - it includes VSC but that requires old .NET3.5 - annoying if you'd rather not install old versions. It's also evidently no longer in development.

I tried the suggested Iperius free but it doesn't have a non-Zip backup option. And no VSC in the free version. Decent interface though.

Seems I'll be going back to Cobain as it really does a good job.

DavidFB, Cobain's need for NET3.5 is problematic for me as new/updated software that I use requires higher versions.

For a long time I used Yadis which was very reliable and backed up in real time with versioning. However, Yadis started throwing errors although the backups were still OK. So, then switched to AutoBak which also supports versioning in real time. It worked OK but recently interacted with hardware or software and crashed the computer. Checking the AutoVer forums, etc. I found that crashes have been an ongoing problem for at least a couple of years.

I like using real time backups but other than Yadis and AutoVer I don't know of any others. So based on this review I think I’ll give Yadis another shot to see if something on my computer might have changed and it works OK now. If not I'll work down through the recommended programs.

Hi Ole
As noted in a followup, it turned out NET3.5 was only required for Cobain if you needed to use the Volume Shadow Copy. This isn't needed for routine file backup - just for system files.

I used File Hamster for years for versioning and back-up-on-save of key files and folders. While not presented as free, it does revert to Basic features after the trial and still works fine. However, when I upgraded to Win8, it wanted older .NET so I put it aside.

I've been experimenting with FreeFileSync which also now comes with RealtimeSync.

But yeah - when you get used to software you really like, it can be frustrating when its not maintained.

Thank you for posting that additional information DavidFB.

Went back to Yadis and finally checked the error log. The warning that I was getting was due to a file associated with a new program that was looked at by Yadis when the program opened. Put the bad actor on the "include" filter list (had *.* on the list so do not know why this file is different) and all is well. Certainly dumb of me not to look at the error log when the warning started but it looks like all is well now and can recommend the program.

Thanks for the suggestion. This may work better for me for realtime backup. I use Cobain for routine daily backup but files I use all the time can require a higher level of monitoring. This seems more like FileHamster but fully free.

Just a followup - Volume Shadow Copy is mainly needed if you're trying to back up system files used by the OS, and the occasional file locked as its in use. In my case, I use Imaging for the system and straight file backup for the data - much easier to access and recover data if you're having system problems.

My need for Cobain was for the second - data backup. So I didn't actually need VSC as it turns out. It had no trouble backing up my email with the email program open, for example.

I checked his help files and he actually suggested you turn VSC off if you don't need it because it will make the backup faster. So I'm happily back using free Cobain 11.2. Without VSC and thus the need for .NET 3.5

It's been very reliable for me and has saved my bacon a few times.

My vote is also in for Cobian 11.2

I can´t say I've tried all the different options in this article but, in addition to what DavidFB mentions, the drag-and-drop functionality is what makes it so easy for me. Just drag in the files/folders you want to backup, drag in the destination folder, set the schedule, and you´re done! Also love the ability to filter out certain files/folders you don´t care to include in the backup (also done via drag-and-drop).

DavidFB, I was also using VSC worrying that without it my Outlook .pst (e-mail) file might not be successfully copied if I left Outlook open during the backup process. Even though I haven't actually run into any problems yet with Outlook open, I ended up simply adding a pre-backup event that closes Outlook automatically just in case. This can be done within the "Task Properties" window under the "Events" option. So no more worries and no need for VSC + .NET 3.5 !

Do any of these, or Cobian Backup, do incremental or differential backup of single large files, like rsync does?

Quote from Infoworld.com article:
"Take, for example, a large file of 5GB. It's very easy to run an MD5 sum on the file on each side of a synchronization path to see if they differed. If the sums didn't match, a simple synchronization utility would then ship the entire source file over to the target. Naturally, this would result in a 5GB file transfer. Rsync, by contrast, runs a rolling checksum across the entire file, comparing checksums for small segments of the file, and then only causes the transfer of those blocks that do not match. This is a very simplified description of what's actually going on, but it gets the point across. If only 2MB of data actually changed in that 5GB file, only about 2MB of data will be transmitted from the source to the target. This is a huge benefit in time and bandwidth savings."

Rsync is Linux based though there is some Windows type interface's I do believe called Gsync and cwRsync, Rsync is able to handle files differently than the programs listed here. Personally speaking I would not use a Linux based program to handle backups for a Windows system (be it file or image)... Granted these days they do work fine with NTFS however they do tend to strip out file security permissions at times and if you have ever ran into that issue on a Windows machine before after doing a restore from something that is not native to Windows then you know what a nightmare it can well be to correct... I think the only time Linux should touch any of your windows files is in a true emergency situation when it really is your last hope of recovery. Exception to the rule being Windows software that creates a Linux boot CD's because the software is written specifically to perform said operation's on Windows systems. But that is just my personal opinion, however I do agree Rsync is an awesome piece of software without a doubt.

Although it takes up more space, because hard links have to be separate files, you can actually run Windows 7 SP1 on Fat32. No permissions whatsoever! You can use Unstoppable Copier, or some versions of Linux that don't care about the permissions, to copy the files off the NTFS partition. Wipe the partition, format fat32, and then give it bootsec.exe /nt60

ps. Don't forget to take out the symbolic links (junctions). They aren't necessary, despite what MS may say.

Oh, just remembered. The issue with FAT32, is that it can only hold about 8000 long name folders, and WinSxS easily goes beyond that. I was doing some things at the time to reduce the size of WinSxS, and while I managed to do it, I didn't want to go further into figuring out how to safely keep it from growing. It would require changing the underlying workings of Windows!

When I mentioned file permissions I was referring to them from a Windows perspective as if the permissions are wrong or in some cases not set all sorts of problems can arise over time, the same go's for Symlinks they ARE necessary especially for older software to function correctly, removing Symlinks is certainly not recommended even if not using older software, the User directory for one makes frequent use of those links... What you have mentioned is good for experimentation only and certainly not for a system that is used on a daily basis there is all kinds of things you can play around with but none of it has anything to do with actually making or restoring solid backups of files and folders and this is what this particular page is all about ;-)

Andy, you brought up file permissions, and it is an interest of mine. I use this modified system dialy, and it works great. I'm not sure what older software you are talking about? I have an assortment of 100+ programs. If you are truly interested in keeping this on-topic, please do not respond here, and send me a PM.

BackUp Maker is just so annoying with the popup for the paid version every single time it does a backup.

Lets say you have a folder to be backed.

Is there any file backup software that will make backups of any new folders in this folder?

They'll all backup subfolders, new or otherwise, typically with the default settings.

free file sync now has that ability however it is very basic and does slow down operations slightly when your accessing said folder.

In my opinion, and I'm sad it didn't make the list yet, but Cobian backup is probably the best free backup software available. UNFORTUNATELY, last Novemberish (2013) the developer has stopped releasing updates and sold off the source code, but its still free and the current version is as stable as cement. :)

It also unfortunately requires .Net 3.5 for VSS. If you happen to be trying to minimize all the versions of .Net...

That said it is very reliable and will work without old .Net if you don't want VSS.

As noted above, I've been using Cobain for data backup so don't really need VSC. It works very well without and thus no need for old .NET

I just downloaded all of the free versions from AOMEI
Make sure you'all get the bigger download (does XP and later OS's)
Even if you only need it for Win 7/8 get the other one (XP and Win 7/8)
The reason being with the bigger one, you can create a bootable Win PE CD.
And if you follow my instructions and only image when Windows is closed (ie use a bootable CD), then only the Win PE CD allows that.

Rob

PS I have the latest FF, and CANNOT LOG IN to here to make comments. Had to use an alternate browser (Comodo Dragon)

I got the smaller download. It included the ability to create the WIN PE. But you have to download the separate ISO for the Linux CD. Stick it in the root directory and it can create the Linux CD also. Or you can burn it with something like free ImgBurn.

Keep in mind AOMEI is an imaging tool. It now has data backup capability but accessing data in images is more involved that accessing simple file copies. That it includes boot discs is wonderful for such an occasion, if you needs are simple and you just want to image everything.

Myself, I'm now trying AOMEI for imaging because Windows has handicapped the imaging tool in v8 (stupid) and I use free Cobain (11.2) for data backup, without compression. Unless you need to compress, it's another possible point of failure and slow-down in backups.

Just remember - simple and reliable is what you need for backups.

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