Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition
A user-friendly backup solution with wizards and fully featured recovery media.
Pros & Cons:
Overall Paragon does its intended job differently to the others and left me kind of wondering what the outcome was going to be during the recovery process, having said that yes it completed without a hitch in a timely fashion. There is so many features in this program that you can see yet are unable to use in the free version, to me that just makes it all feel bloated. Is this for the novice or the advanced user? It is easy enough to use and the wizards provide plenty of instruction if needed, so yes it does appear to be novice user friendly. I do feel though that the more advanced user would get a little frustrated with having to use said wizards all the time.
In this release 2014 they have gone for the "Metro" Windows 8 look for the GUI and you are presented with a series of little boxes that link straight to a wizard for the task you would like to perform along with thankfully a link to load up a more traditional GUI showing your hard drives.
It seems that they have now removed what little partitioning support there was in the previous free versions in favor of including what looks to be a full partitioning suite, though all these buttons are greyed out in the free version with a button stating "Unlock disabled features" and there is a lot of disabled features!, However the important items are still there such as Back Up, Restore, Differential Backup, and Check Archive Integrity. Interestingly there is options to back up to a Virtual Disk, Restore from a VD and also Incremental Backup to a VD, I can see that this would have it's uses in some corporate environments but for the average user if you use Virtual Disks at all then most of those programs have their own "System Snapshot" tools already.
Backup Image Creation
Another feature is the "Backup Capsule" this creates a reserved partition solely for the storage of backups managed by Paragon, now in the previous version this feature worked well but I found that if you removed an old backup you could not remove its entry in the backup capsule and eventually this could get messy if you are working with lots of backups coupled with the fact it was difficult to figure out exactly what backup was the most recent one especially if you were working with differential one's rather then full. I was not able to test this aspect again in the new version due to the fact the program refused to install on my own virtual system. So any informative comments concerning the backup capsule in this new version would be welcomed, until such time I have the resources to test it again for myself.
Clicking on Back Up starts the wizard and you are presented with a tree structure of all your drives and partitions where you select what one or ones you wish to backup, checking the box for advanced options and then clicking next gives you all the usual options such as compression, password protect, image splitting, raw sector copy and use the VSS or not, along with one I not noticed before and that is "Control archive integrity" apparently it writes additional data in order to be able to check the archive at a later date if requested (my question is why does it need additional data?). Another feature you don't see often is the ability to set filters to exclude a whole range of temp files, exe files, log files and just about anything else you can think of, very useful to cut down on image size and processing time.
Next you get to choose backup location be it network, burn to CD / DVD or straight to a physical partition (I gather by that they mean clone?), after clicking next you are informed that Backup and Recovery now works in virtual mode and you have to finish the wizard and then click the little green "Apply" arrow in the main window... After doing that the backup process begins and you can select scheduling options if need be, now since this software would only install on my work computer the backup system partition is 31GB and not the usual 8GB I test with, 12mins to complete with a file size of 14GB in comparison AOMEI does this same system in 9mins with a file size of 13.5GB so not much difference really.
Restore and Recovery
Clicking Restore allows you to select the backup archive you want and then select the individual files and folders along with the location to restore etc. This method differs very much in comparison to the other software in this category and will perform a system reboot in order to finish off replacing the system files. Actual recovery media is in the form of both WinPE and Linux with support for EFI or BIOS.
Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition was reviewed by Gizmos Freeware on based on version 10.1.21.638.