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

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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

The objective is to provide review and recommendation of a program's functionality. I suppose most reviewers may not have a computer they can wipe then restore, so your requested feature isn't fully integrated in the review process. I'm in the process of trying to setup another system so I may be able to write something about it later, I do appreciate your suggestion. In the mean time I suggest you try using Fbackup for quick on demand backups in 3 easy steps. If you want to include scheduling, I suggest Backup maker because it's included in the 5 step wizard. Make sure the Advanced option box is unchecked on the first page of the wizard before starting or 5 steps will become 12. Your other concern about remembering how to restore your software can be addressed by printing the instructions and keeping them on file. It's usually a simple process but I can't explain it here because it depends on what type of backup you are trying to restore. For example you may have full backups or partial or an image. Different procedure for each. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Thanks for the reply. Sorry if I came off as being over-critical; it wasn't my intention to take out my frustration on you. I do appreciate the effort you, and others like you, put into software evaluation and provide a feedback forum so people like me can weigh in. That's not always the case with commercial software developers who tend to dictate instead of relate. I'll try your BU suggestions.
And I long ago resorted to printing out specific instructions for various software and keep it in a binder. So much for the "paperless office."

note: Backup Maker is 64 Bit compatible according to the maker's webpage. https://www.ascomp.de/en/products/show/product/backupmaker/tab/details

Quote: "Supported operating systems:

Windows 8(32-bit & 64-bit)
Windows 7(32-bit & 64-bit)
Windows Vista(32-bit & 64-bit)
Windows XP(32-bit & 64-bit)
Windows Server 2008(32-bit & 64-bit)
Windows Server 2003(32-bit & 64-bit)"

Thank you. I have now updated the product details. MC - Site Manager.

Hi,
It's a really excellent piece of writing here and explanation. I finally understand what I should be looking for to choose best option. Really thanks for this.

Some people mentioned Areca Backup:
http://www.areca-backup.org/features.php

I find this program one of the best free tools. Before, I thought I'd go with Backup Maker, Genie Timeline Free Edition, or Toucan. However, after reading comments a few readers pointed out some issue with Toucan (apparently, it crashes) and Genie Timeline. The others mentioned Areca Backup.
So, Areca Backup is free and very functional. How about its file validation feature, if there is any at all? I don't really understand how validation works to be honest. I'd be grateful if someone would explain that :)
In FAQ, I found some explanation:
"How does Areca detect modified or new files when incremental backups are chosen ?
Areca uses the file's size and last modification time to detect modified files. If one of these attributes is modified (whatever its value is), the file is flagged as modified.
Since v7.2.17, Areca can also inspect the file's content to detect modifications of its content (which is much slower than detection based on attributes) "
but I don't know if this is the same as validation.

Cheers.

I like Cobian. Very simply backup. Easy to restore a file too. Sometimes I just want to restore a version of file, not an entire backup set.

http://www.cobiansoft.com/cobianbackup.htm

I have been trying for four days to do a backup using Backupmaker. After several attempts taking many hours each, I have been forced to give up.

On only two of the attempts has it got as far as completing verification. On both of those, it has failed to write to the DVD. Each say" Taghet directory cannot be readed(sic)/verified.

If you held a gun to my head, I would not be using application programs to do live writes to DVDs.
If I must end up with the storage on a DVD, then I would tell the 'applications' to backup to somewhere else, and then I would use [edited] to burn the files to a DVD (with Verify set.)

I am not saying you would do the following, but a lot of people do.
Even though I am Scottish, I would not be tight enough to be adding data to an existing DVD. It amazes me that people do that, with something as important as a backup.
(And that goes for you people out there that do Incremental backups.)

Thanks for the reply, rob. Since I am only one sixteenth Scottish, perhaps one sixteenth Scotch and the remainder, human, you lost me.

I have very little understanding of computers and use them to search for information and to write with - I do a lot of writing, mostly on political matters. In my youth, the only calculator was called a comptometer and it was the size of a typewriter ( or a desktop PC.)

(I have not backed this one up in years: Windows keeps telling me to insert a certain Disk - thatdoes not exist. But, after enduring a couple of years of freezes and crashes, I thought it about time to back up since there are score of articles I have written on there and many hindreds of emails.

I assumed that "Backup" means having a copy somewhere. If not on a disk, then where? Without technicalities. Why can I not just stick a DVD in the slot and click something that copies to it?

Burning to a DVD should be done with a reliable program, that has years of development experience in that specific area, such as [mention of commercial software removed]
Also I prefer it to be a single action. EG You list the files for the program, and it then burns them in a single action.
I am assuming that you don't have a network, and don't have external drives connected ?
Some people might recommend having your backups write to a thumb drive, but I am a bit nervous about that.
I would create a folder for your backups (eg C:\BKUPs\) and get your backup program to copy to there. And then every so often burn that folder to a CD or DVD. If your data is not massive, and fits on a CD, I would burn to a CD. (Get a decent brand.)
How often you burn, will depend on how important your feel your recent 'typings' are to you.

Now there is a new function:

Copying and zip compression of paths over 255 characters

You have caught my attention, with that.
I used to organize my own folders, with the intention of being able to manually Zip them, and then burn to CD.
I came unstuck because of long paths, and I have never attempted zipping (for backups) since.

Users of the excellent Backup Maker may be interested to know that, after several requests, Ascomp.de have added an English language forum at https://www.ascomp.de/forum/ (NB If the page appears in German, click on 'Deutsch' on the bottom left of the page and select the English option). Great!

Has anyone used Toucan on a desktop. I used it to sync files with a memory stick. I would like to use it to backup files from a PC to an external hard drive. It's a program I am familiar with and would like to keep using it.

I would like to invite you to take a look at another free backup client - called "Duplicati".

http://www.duplicati.com/

I quote its developers:

"Duplicati is a free backup client that securely stores encrypted, incremental, compressed backups on cloud storage services and remote file servers. It works with Amazon S3, Windows Live SkyDrive, Google Drive (Google Docs), Rackspace Cloud Files or WebDAV, SSH, FTP (and many more).

Duplicati has built-in AES-256 encryption and backups can be signed using GNU Privacy Guard. A built-in scheduler makes sure that backups are always up-to-date. Last but not least, Duplicati provides various options and tweaks like filters, deletion rules, transfer and bandwidth options to run backups for specific purposes."

Perhaps the responsible of this rubric will test Duplicati, in the near future; and then will share his impressions about it.-

Hi guys

software looks great, I'm looking for file backup software that allows me to backup files over the network, and being able to see what link did not backup.

any suggestions ?

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