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. There are other options for creating system restore disks and restoring applications.

Use backup software to save document files, browser favorites, pictures, videos and other data, documents and media. Some of the backup programs are easier to use than others usually at the cost of some features. 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.

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 including this Recommended Reading and the Freeware Forum to post questions.

Important Features:

  • Shadow Copy or VSS - Comodo Backup
  • GPT drives - EaseUS - AOMEI
  • Incremental & Differential Backup - Comodo, Backup Maker
  • AES Security Encryption - Comodo, Backup Maker

 

Rated Products

Backup Maker  

Complete with most extensive sets of options for customizing backups.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Has many features for basic and advanced selection. Nice scheduling options. Clean console, helpful wizard.
No Shadow Copy
Read full review...

FBackup  

Built with a wizard featuring plugins for ease of backups


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Limited features)
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.
Read full review...

EaseUS Todo Backup Free  

Designed to be user friendly by simplicity without a wizard.


Our Rating: 
2
License: Free (Limited features)
Cloning and imaging features. Straight forward user interface.
No Shadow Copy, no differential backups, lacks a wizard.
Read full review...

Honorable Mention

AOMEI BackupperAOMEI Backupper is 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 a full review and rating: AOMEI Backupper.

 

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 for Special Reviews.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

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.

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Comments

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.

As far as I can tell, it looks like Comodo's "free" 10GB online storage is only a 90 day trial.... or am I missing something?

AOMEI is currently at version 3.2 (updated on 2015.09.16).

I tried Comodo after your review. I have to give it to AOMEI. The ability to explore and mount a backup volume across a network, flexibility of its task scheduling, reattaching broken connections to a backup and restoring those task. And, as you mentioned, creating bootable media to restore drives across the network. Something I never could get Windows to do. It does lack in the online support FAQ's, but, with a bit of tinkering, it was relatively easy to figure out. I used to be all about Comodo products, but, I got frustrated with the lack of web management. I could never tell if a product was EOL or what configurations the products would work with. Anyway, give AOMEI a good look. Maybe forgive the occasional bad English. They are looking for translators.

Thank you for your coment and feedback it is important for our readers to hear real life situations and not just take my word for it :-)

AOMEI being a Chinese company their English is very good much better than my Chiniese ! so I think the occosional grammer mistake can be over looked, since their software is good and free... All the software I mention is good and serves its pupose in different ways one is not better than the other all depending on your requirments.

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?

No. While every other machine in our house is running Linux, including the TV and the router, my wife persists in using Windows because she has one program that still uses it. So I need something to sync & backup both Linux and Windows. I'm going to try grsync and/or luckybackup, both highly rated by Linux Mint users in the repository. I don't like the idea of FreeFileSync's adware.

been running it for 2 + years and no adware

You can install FreeFileSync without running OpenCandy.

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."

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