Best Free File-Based Backup Program

toggle-button
  Read this article in Spanish (Español)

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.

Back to the top of the article

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
4.102895
Average: 4.1 (311 votes)

Comments

Thanks. Very clear answer. I think the most important consideration in choosing backup programs and strategies is which will get you back up (pun intended) and running just the way you were before disaster struck. That is, without needing days or weeks of reinstalling programs and getting them back to the setups that took maybe years of gradual adjustments to get your computer just the way you like it. That is what I would want. So, which do that, and how much storage capacity (relative to your HD usage) will that facility require. Then go for it. I'll certainly be looking into AOMEI. Bill

hi,
what about Cobian backup?
any words about this free software?

Thank you for the tip, I'll take a look at it.
I've downloaded Backup maker because I'm hoping it will compress my backups better and preform backups quicker than the built in Windows back up tool ( I'm using Win7 ) but I'm confused about this feature mentioned on their website , the feature to upload your backups to a webserver through an FTP/FTPS upload , what does this actually mean ? what does this feature do ? does it mean I can back up my files to for example Skydrive or Dropbox using this software or is it something else completely
FTP and Cloud backup services like Skydrive and Dropbox are different. FTP is a file transfer protocol to transfer files to a server over a network or the internet. If you have an account with someone that hosts an FTP server you could have Backup Maker upload your backup files to the FTP account. For further clarification and discussion, post your question about the difference between cloud storage and ftp storage in the Freeware Forum. Thank you.
thanks for your reply I've only just noticed it .

I am a bit confused...why is AOMEI Backupper reviewed is this category? Maybe it is due to my limited knowledge but the first sentence in this review is ”The theme of this category is to provide reviews for the most popular file based backup programs ...”. Based on that, I can't see the reason for AOMEI Backupper to be mentioned in this category since it's not a program to backup files. Shouldn't AOMEI Backupper be mentioned in the category with ”The best free drive cloning program”?

Comodo Backup supports Win 8, but it doesn' support GPT. You can backup your system with Comodo Backup including the boot records. Maybe it is due to my limited knowledge again, but does Comodo Backup support Windows 8 if it doesn't have GPT support? Comodo Backup can be installed and used on Win 8 as long as you are doing file backups. Is that the case if you are using the program to make a system backup? Not even Comodo claim the program has support for Windows 8.

It is not mentioned mere, but FBackup supports Windows 8.

I did make comments regarding AOMEI in the Introduction notes and in the review. Also the disk backup feature of AOMEI is not an image or clone, it's a batch file backup with the same features (actually more) than other file backup programs. I feel it may be a viable option for some users. It could also be considered as a cloning software, but so could Fbackup and EaseUS which also offer cloning. Regarding Comodo, I didn't get a response from the developer regarding GPT support. I cannot make claims the developer doesn't qualify. Since they do not say they support GPT (like the others who do) I have to assume they don't. Some of their forum posts talk about not supporting GPT so I feel safe in stating this for now. If you or anyone else can provide written evidence to the contrary I will be glad to correct the review. Thank you for your time and feedback.

Actually AOMEI Backupper is an IMAGE backup when you do either a drive, partition or system disk backup.
Also, as of v2 it will also do file/directory backups to an image type file as well.
I have used AOMEI since release, and positively love it.
And even now, IMHO, it is still the BEST. Better than Macrium or Paragon for FREE.
As in from day 1 it has allowed the user to do FULL, INCREMENTAL and DIFFERENTIAL images.
Last I checked, Pragon allow only FULL and DIFFERENTIAL, and Macrium ONLY does FULL images only.
I was very pleasantly surprised in v2 to find the addition of the file/directory back up. Now, this even beats EaseUS ToDo Backup Free as well.

Genie timeline used to be a recommendation. Warning; the system drive failed, and all the backup folders on other drives later turned out to be empty; i.e if the program isn't installed, the backups disappear. Catastrophically stupid.

There is a valid reason for the backups to 'disappear' when Genie Timeline is uninstalled.

Genie Timeline is NOT a file backup program. It's a versioning program. To save space Genie Timeline works on block level not on file level. It backups the changes you have made to a file on block level on the harddisk, not the changed file. It means for example you can't use your word processor to open a document backed up by Genie Timeline if Genie Timeline isn't installed.
As long as Genie Timeline is installed you can open in your document in the word processor since Genie Timeline is integrated in Explorer. When you uninstall Genie Timeline there is nothing to keep track of the chain of changed blocks of a file.
To backup a file you MUST use a backup program that works on file level, not on block level. Block level backup programs are good for backing up a system, but they should never be used to backup your personal files.

Use Genie Timeline to keep track of the changes to your personal files so you can go back to an earlier version of a document, but use a backup program working on file level to backup your files.

A backup program working on block level should never be used to backup of your personal files

valid? Thankyou for informing me of that. I will now believe with every grain of my being that for my backed-up files to vanish is a perfectly acceptable occurrence, and will HASTEN, HASTEN I TELL YOU, to reinstall Genie Timeline.

Serously, listen, if I'd had any bleeding from the eyeballs inkling whatsoever that this could happen, I would never have installed Genie Timeline.

Wasn't Genie Timeline mentioned in this column once as a backup program? If I've scrounged it from somewhere else on the net i'll have to do some hat-eating, but I seem to remember it reviewed here. It did not appear only to save version data; the backups took up a LOT of space. Were 'versioning' apps separated from 'real' backup apps? It wasn't clear to this user how extremely much much of an effect that distinction would make.

My question may seem simple but I am confused.I have W/7 X64 and use the built in backup and have ticked the "Only Keep Latest Version" yet it takes twice the resources as the original -WHY- what am I missing? I have a 2nd internal drive just for backup and it is full. I also have the original OS Disc so is it possible only to keep my files? If so how? I just purchased a external 3.0 drive and do not want to clutter it up with redundancy, I know all you tech's can help so... c'mon. Is a free utility my only option which is OK but I would like to know if it is me or the software.

We do appreciate this question, however this belongs in our Freeware Forum, not category comments. Please look for the tab across the top of this page that says Freeware Forum, click on it and post a New Thread. Thank you.

I tried Backup Maker and don't have a clue about how to make it work. I wanted to back up the c: drive to an external drive and it insisted on doing file selection.

I wanted to be able to back up a selected group of folders on demand and it insisted on scheduling. I could not figure out how to make it start a backup without scheduling.

Is there backup software usable by somebody who is untuitive challenged, something where you click on a button and a backup starts?

To backup C: Launch the program. Click the Backup button. In the welcome screen make sure activate expert mode is unchecked. You will have 5 steps. Step 1 select files and folders, then look on the list for Computer. Click the arrow next to computer to see all your drives. Check the box next to C: drive. Step 2, Automation will not work unless you chose an option. Skip this step to eliminate scheduling. Step 3, no matter what you select in step 1, you need to choose full backup the first time in step 3. After you've made a full backup of the items in step 1, you can make partial backups in step 3. Step 4, select your destination. Step 5, give your backup a name. Your new backup configuration will be added to the main screen for on demand use. If you want to change the full backup to partial, click the edit icon. For further instruction refer to the help guide or the developer's website. Thank you for using Gizmo's.

Just wanted to clarify: You do not have to choose full backup the first time! If you choose partial backup on step 3 and there is no full backup available already for this task, BackUp Maker will automatically create a full backup as a base first. So, you must not care about this, BackUp Maker will do that for you automatically.

Anyway, great how-to - thank you joe!

Thank you for clarifying.

See my earlier post regarding the free Seagate Discwizard.
If you wish assistance regarding imaging the whole drive, I am happy to help you (and others).
If this forum allows, I am happy to post my email address.
I would use this format so that 'Skynet' cannot scrape my address from this page -
[Posting of email addresses is not permitted as per our site rules. Please note also that requests for support and any replies should be posted in our forum and not in the comments sections.]
If this forum does object, perhaps the hosting service (this membership) could have an option to allow members to contact each other. It could be a setting that has to be ticked, to allow.

Merry Xmas to you all,
Rob

You can use PMs (Private Messages).

Joe,
Thanks for the 'heads up'
Rob

I downloaded backup maker but was disappointed to see that it don't have volume Shadow Copy functionality.

Does anyone knows about a freeware backup program that has shadow Copy functionality and automatic incremental or automatic differential backup?

GFI Backup and Comodo Backup provides these functions. I haven't reviewed them yet so I have no opinion regarding their functionality. Thank you for using Gizmo's!

Thanks for the information. I love Gizmo's, using it almost daily, thanks for the great work :D
GFI backup look really good. I'm surprised that backup programs like this is not in the review, yet :)

I'm working on new reviews, hope to have new stuff up in January sometime.

WARNING: I clicked link to Backup Maker & get a WARNING "This page contains viruses or other Malware....Take me back safely".
Is this correct??

I got the same warning. It came from Bitdefender Trafficlight addon to Firefox.

Thanks. This has been confirmed as a false positive. Backup Maker have now provided another link which goes to exactly the same landing page, but does not trigger the alert. Unfortunately (and I use it myself) Trafficlight does throw up quite a few false positives like this. MC - Site Manager.

I have to disagee on the review of EaseUS Todo Backup. The program can be a nightmare and doesn't deserve to be mentioned on this site

I have told my daughter many times how important it is to make a backup of her personal files and folders. Yesterday I finally managed to have her to sit down to make a backup. Based on this review where you state ”Best for on-demand backups...”, I had installed EaseUS Todo Backup free for her to use.

My daughter logged in on her account to make the backup. When she starts the program the first thing she is met by the UAC prompt asking for the admin password. My daughter has a standard user account on my computer, and she doesn't have the password for the admin account. I had to type the admin password

A backup program that can't be run with standard user credentials???? I already at that point decided to look for another backup program, a program she can use on a daily basis, But I let my daughter to make her backup so she could backup her files.

She ran the program with the files and folders preselected by EaseUS Todo Backup. I asked her to check the backup to make sure her files and folders were on the backup.....She is yelling....Dad, my files and folders are not there!!!!

I didn't believe her and I had a look myself.....She was right...her files and folders were not on the backup. The files and folders on the backup were my files and folders....and of course …..the program doesn't run with standard user credentials.....and I had to help her to select the right files and folders and then make the backup.

To make a backup of a standard user's files and folders with EaseUS Todo Backup you have to:
1) Use admin credentials when you start the program
2) De-select the preselected files and folders
3) Navigate to the standard user files and folders
4) Select the files and folders you want to backup (a task that is not so easy for a novice)
5) Run the backup

It seems like EaseUS have forgotten the fact that not all users are logged in with admin credentials. It is not a program to be used by a person who is not computer savvy and using a standard user account ….My daughter told me....”Dad, it is too complex for me to make a backup”....I just hope I can convince her to make a backup again, using another program.

Pages