Real-Time Continuous Backup Freebie

I've never been a big fan of traditional backup applications.  I normally find it simpler to back up my files with something like Robocopy, which is a free command-line utility that Microsoft has shipped with all versions of Windows from XP onwards. Or if you don't like command lines, there's a similar utility, again free from Microsoft, called Sync Toy.

But if I did want to use a conventional backup program, something like Apple's "Time Machine" would appeal.  You just point it at a backup drive, and it gets on with the job.  All your files automatically get backed up, every time they change.  There's nothing to configure, as you just "set and forget".

If that sounds like the sort of backup regime you want, and you run Windows rather than a Mac, then you might just be interested in a free (for non-commercial use) app called Genie Timeline.  You can get it from

The download is relatively large, at around 30 MB, and it runs on XP and above.  Both 32- and 64-bit versions are available.  Once you've downloaded and run it, there are really only 2 things you need to do.  First, point it at a backup drive.  This will normally be an external USB device, or you could (as I did) point it at another machine on your LAN.  Alternatively, using something like NetDrive (, you could even point it at a remote FTP server.

Next comes the screen shown below, where you can configure which types of files get backed up.  Personally, I just clicked the "Next" button, and left everything on the default setting.

And that's it.  Your computer is now protected via something called Continuous Data Protection.  Every new file you create gets backed up automatically within a few seconds, as does every file you change.

To restore a file from your backup, just browse to the backup drive and navigate it with Windows Explorer.  Or right-click the Genie Timeline icon on the system tray and use the built in facility to look for the files you want.

If you're looking for an easy, free backup solution, then this just might be it.  But remember, if you're backing up to an external USB drive that's connected to your main PC, a disaster such as a fire, flood or theft could easily deprive you of both your main machine and the backup.  When you're planning a backup regime, choice of software isn't as important as choice of storage location.  Off-site, or at least a drive that you take away from your house once the backup is complete, is always the way to go.

TIP: Make sure you select the "Free" version from the download page not the "Home" or "Pro" versions.


Genie Timeline Free


My thanks to reader Danni Dunleavy for telling me about this great product.  If there's a Hot Find you want to tell everyone about, start by telling me.  See


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by Bob_The_Man (not verified) on 31. March 2012 - 16:55  (91503)

Thanks for the great product, but they just released Version 2012, which is amazing and I love it, with new Metro design and more free stuff, also its more faster (They say 2X), and i love the new iPhone/iPad Apps to monitor your backup status

What's new in Genie Timeline 2012 (Copied From their site):
- Internal Deduplication (Machine-Level) to eliminate multiple copies of files stored in multiple locations in the backup.
- New and Enhanced Interface.
- Improved Backup Speed (2x Faster).
- Folder backup marker to indicate what folders are backed-up.
- A simplified backup setup: Removed restrictions on drive selection and easier smart selection.
- Enhanced search engine.
- Step-by-Step restore (Advanced Restore).

by JesterFogg (not verified) on 5. July 2011 - 9:17  (74776)

I did try genie time-line in the free version and it worked quite good. The problem is: The free Version only lets you backup only unnecessary files. You can´t backup windows system data or registry or any Microsoft Office Data. So if you really want to use it to have a backup when your machine crashes or role back to some previous File versions the free version wont do the job. In fact its useless as a "backup" in the free version! Genie time-line pretends to be a clone of Apples Time-Machine - just for windows. But when you use it in the same way e.g. make continuous backups every 10 minutes you will soon find out that a) its not that stable and b) it consumes a lot of resources those slowing your PC down. The free version is just a marketing joke without real backup functionality. While the pro version is ok thats why i gave it 3 Stars. But as a Top listed freeware? Gizmo, you should rethink having genie time-line as a top freeware pick...

by Tou (not verified) on 6. January 2011 - 3:24  (63915)

Isn't continuous backup bad since your internal HDD is constantly being accessed? Means it's always accessing your hard drive so if a crash occurs, wouldn't your external HDD and the internal be affected?

by howdee (not verified) on 23. October 2010 - 18:44  (60014)

Have been looking for a continuous Backup Program. I have most of my Data on a "D" Drive that I copy to a "D" Drive on another Computer each Week. Is it possible to have Genie-Soft continue this operation automatically, as in if I just point to the 2nd Computer as the Backup Location will Genie-Soft keep copying new or edited Files to that Location?

Also, I guess it is possible to exclude some File Types, such as MS Office Backups and tmp Files.

howdee - Annandale, Sydney, Australia

by Marce (not verified) on 30. September 2010 - 21:04  (58735)

Is there a way to backup to Sky Drive?

by Jake MAverick (not verified) on 30. September 2010 - 21:42  (58738)

ummm...seems like a reasonably good product on the service, but maybe i am being a muppet....what it did bakcup it did quickly and flawlessly.....unfortunately it doesn't 'see' a few of the directories i do have, which need to be backed up (arguable) the most....most importantly the Windows directory! But also Programme Files and others.....also a shame there is no encryption nor compression which is really a must....and ability to archive to DVD within same programme kinda of a necessity to these days....

Think i'm gonna have to go back to Ghost, i have an old version.....but even that buggy....have to keep re-installing it! But i think that is a well known problem that never been solved, but so out of date....

got a new 2nd hand machine few months back though and i really need to backup.....image got to be best way to go with incremental backups.....anybody know a freebie taht will do all that? ;-) i have tried many.....

by syntax_error on 2. October 2010 - 0:52  (58871)

Have a look at these:- www_techsupportalert_com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm

"Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted."

A bit rich don't you think?

Edit: Just noticed the answer to your question has already been answered by Garth just a few post below mine. It also contains a clickable link.

by Jake MAverick (not verified) on 2. October 2010 - 15:30  (58905)

Thanx man!

I had forgotten, but I did give them a try a few months back but kept running into problems with them! Cnt remember exactly what, maybe they didn't like my hardware or soemthing! But anyway, slightly more up to date PC now and i still have progs on my HD so i think i'm gonna give them another try....just hope they dnt kill my machine! ;-)

So who/ what you been spamming? ;-)

by MidnightCowboy on 28. September 2010 - 21:56  (58604)

Backups have always been a part of my lets live life dangerously routine, i.e. I've never done it apart from just manually copying some stuff from one place to another :D Not very smart so MC thought he'd better check this out. Installed flawlessly and copied 9G of stuff onto my external drive in no time and then just carried on at intervals with the changes. Truly set and forget. Thanks Robert :)

by BillBrad (not verified) on 28. September 2010 - 16:10  (58583)

I want my changes (new/changed documents, new/changedfolders, new changed photos, etc.) to be backed up as soon as I make them. And I want the backup to be automatic so that I don't have to think about it and lose my train of thought. After trying all the backup/sync freeware I could get my hands on, I settled on PureSync:
It's user-configurable and worked like a charm for me right from day one.
Genie Timeline is a real find and does look interesting. But I still recommend PureSync because it's been so successful for me.

by Gunnar (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 20:46  (58529)

Forgive my ignorance with this question but what type software should I use if I simply want to have a record or backup of my entire hard drive so if worse comes to worst I will not lose all the contents if I have to reinstall from scratch?

by Stu Engel (not verified) on 29. September 2010 - 16:27  (58650)

I recommend Lazy Mirror.
Check it out.

Besides a complete backup of your drive and registry it can keep archives in the unused space on the drive until needed.

by robert.schifreen on 28. September 2010 - 19:14  (58594)

What you're after is drive imaging, rather than backup. It takes a copy of your entire hard disk, rather than the individual files on it. So you can recreate your entire machine on a new drive if the computer, or just the hard disk, breaks. But before you choose this option, think carefully whether it's really what you want. What problem are you attempting to solve by implementing a backup/imaging solution? You need to understand this before you choose a solution.

by Gunnar (not verified) on 28. September 2010 - 20:25  (58600)

Thanks for your tip. To reply, I am trying to avoid having to reinstall all my software that is on my laptop,bookmarks, as well as my music in case all "goes south."

by pcpatrol (not verified) on 28. September 2010 - 4:01  (58556)

Try something like DriveImageXML. It does a full copy of the Hard Drive and when you go to restore the data you can restore all or browse the contents of the backup and restore only what you need. The view in this feature is much like using windows explorer

by garth on 27. September 2010 - 21:15  (58534)

You might try here.

Depending on your operating system you may have Backup and Restore facilities available but i couldn't tell you how that would compare to the apps reviewed.


by KevinG (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 20:00  (58526)

I have used both GFI and Geni Timeline. I like Timeline better. It is very customizable and you can set it up to literally do incremental back-ups every three minutes if you wanted them that frequently. It can tell if you are connected to the external hard dive and will keep track of the changes you make until you reconnect to the drive. The only problem I had was in using the pause button. When you pause Timeline, it does not keep track of any changes you make. I once wrote a document and placed it in a folder with other like documents, and then turned Timeline back on. It did not catch the new document I put in the folder. So be very careful what you do when you pause it. Other than that issue, Geni Timeline is a great backup program.

by Jean Cantrell (not verified) on 28. September 2010 - 5:21  (58559)

You are right, the free version up to one hour, which is fine for most people, like apple time machine, i don't think a normal person will require more than that[]

[Moderators comment: commercial software features removed. Please keep discussion concentrated on free versions]

by Ritho on 28. September 2010 - 5:10  (58558)

Some of the features you mentioned are not available in the free version. The free version restricts automatic backups to hourly intervals, if I am not mistaken.

by Gordon P. (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 19:52  (58523)

I found Cobian backup from Gizmo's previous recommendations and it is very simple and efficient. You can decide all the files/folders to be backed up, set it to give incremental backups with a full backup after a set number of incrementals, and specify when and how often to run. Specific files can be accessed easily later on as they are not compressed. It has saved my bacon several times.
I also create a drive image on an external hard drive every month using the (free) [imaging] program, also from an old Gizmo tip. Once again, it has been my saviour when dear old Windows refuses to play.

[moderators comment: commercial software reference removed]

by David Wall (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 14:22  (58511)

Mmmm - I've had a look but it's not for me. ALL my system and program files are kept out of house on DVDs so I can reinstall (any or all) should I need to. I use a USB external drive, on a 24 hour basis, to back up files that I use regularly. Once a week I collect the appropriate DVDs and update them from the external drive before returning them (usually within an hour) to where they are kept (300 yards away so no big deal - but safe from harm!) Once a month I update all my system and program files where appropriate using the same method. VERY simple, foolproof (except in case of a nuclear strike or Meteorite hit - in which case I would have no further use for my data anyway) and extremly simple to manage. Look before you leap.

by Mats Geijer (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 13:35  (58506)

CrashPlan works the same way as Genie, and has both a free version which backups once a day. You can backup to a folder, external drive, or to a friend over the internet. Works like a charm (most of the time).

by David Wall (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 14:30  (58512)

Not everyone wwishes to send backups to a friend but I suppose, depends on what the content is - lol

by Jean Cantrell (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 14:22  (58510)

I used backup softwares for a long time, and everyday there is a new company and everyone claiming to be the best, but you will discover later other wise!
Apple are Smart people they created Time Machine, basic functionality but it just works, I tired crash plan, let me tell you after couple of weeks what u will discover, High CPU usage sometimes, you wont be able to work, no real block/byte level (delta block) technology, imagine backing up Outlook PST without block level, No Windows Explorer integration!!!, cant add any file by just right click!!!, Cant really know if i'm protected or not, also their online servers not stable!! Google over the net you will find many people complaining about it, keep getting "Waiting for connection" all the time!!!

by JoshuaM (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 13:27  (58505)

I run Windows XP on an older computer that has a top RAM of one gigabyte. I am afraid that continuous updating would be a serious drain on my computer, and would slow it. Is there a way to use this application that is not continuous?

by Robin (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 9:18  (58498)

I do wish that when anyone talks about backup software they remember to distinguish it from imaging software. I am a seasoned computer user and I still have to look carefully to see whether they are talking about backing up documents or system files.

Also, I would sooner use an imaging program where you can backup your documents to usb, dvd or another hard disk or partition.

by robert.schifreen on 28. September 2010 - 19:16  (58595)

Timeline isn't imaging software. I never claimed that it was. That counts as "distinguishing", as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't play PacMan either. Would you prefer me to explicitly say that it doesn't? :)

by Denis Gauthier (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 3:19  (58494)

I used GFI Backup (formerly Titan Backup). Works great.

by Mark Hamer (not verified) on 27. September 2010 - 0:59  (58486)

I suggest that a better option for many will be to use an rsync (UNIX utility) derivatives particularly if you have a NAS. I use rsync to synchronise my main NAS with the backup NAS.

DeltaCopy is a free rsync utility for Windows users.

[Edit] Reference to commercial software removed

by uman on 26. September 2010 - 19:51  (58481)

It also misses compression, but I guess that if you save in a compressed folder, it will do the trick.

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