The best free backup programs have to fit certain criteria other than just being free to make it to the short list of programs I recommend. To make this list, a program has to be easy to use and allow some customization. I use the paid version of one of these programs and there aren’t very many differences between the two.
Why Use the Best Free Backup Programs?
The regular use of backup software, whether once a week or once a month, is recommended to ensure that you don’t lose everything if problems occur with your hard drive or computer. A backup allows you to quickly restore your system when it becomes corrupted or infected by viruses or other malware.
A good backup program these days allows you to create backups of drives even when files on that drive are being used. It will also perform a sector by sector copying of the drive being backed up if asked to do so, making it much easier to restore to a fresh drive. You will also be able to schedule backups to run while you’re not using the computer. A good backup program will allow you to only backup and restore the files and folders you want or need, instead of the whole drive or file structure every time. The programs listed below will also allow you to perform incremental backups, backing up only the new or changed data, greatly speeding up the backup process.
DriveImage XML from Runtime Software Is My Favorite
I use the commercial/paid version of DriveImage XML. Like I said above, the free version isn’t very different from the paid version. That’s good for you, but now I’m wondering what I paid for. Once installed, backing up a drive is as easy as (in this order):
- Selecting it in a list
- Selecting the destination drive
- Setting the compression used creating the image file
- Clicking the start/next button
The main reason I like DriveImage so much is that I don’t have to leave my computer alone while the backup is being created. Sure, it slows some things, especially image manipulation down a little, as well as taking a little longer to create the image file. This way I don’t have to leave my computer running overnight or when I’m out for a few hours if I don’t want to. The image file created is also XML, making it very easy to work with using third-party programs. There’s also the handy ability to schedule backups for times you won’t be using the computer.
Paragon Backup & Recovery Works with Windows 8
Paragon Backup & Recovery 2014 Free is another program that comes in a commercial flavor that I also use. The company also makes what I believe is the best drive partitioning tool, free or paid. However, we’re here to talk about the best free backup programs, not drive partitioning tools.
Paragon B & R 2013 is newly updated to ensure it works properly with Windows 7 and 8. Support for USB 3.0, Solid State Device (SSD) storage, and drives with more than two terabytes (TB) of storage. This is one of the few free backup solutions that is available in both 32- and 64-bit variants.
Other backup solutions require the same size drive when restoring a backup. This can be a hardship when you want to buy a bigger drive. Paragon Backup & Recovery makes that worry to be a thing of the past. Even better, because the sector of the drive is copied exactly as it is, there’s no need to take the time to install the operating system before restoring the backup.
EaseUS Todo Backup Free Offers One-Click Backup
Like I said, one of the major factors that puts a program on this list is its ease of use. It doesn’t get much easier than the ease of EaseUS Todo Backup Free‘s one-click backup. This is another program that is certified for both Windows 7 and 8 and also lets you upgrade a drive as you restore a partition. There’s also a handy disc clone option as well as SSD support. Like the others on this list so far, the EaseUS solution allows you to pick and choose files and folders to include in the backup, as well as choosing which files and folders to restore from a backup.
Runtime Software Does More Than Just Great Backup Software
DriveImage XML isn’t the only free backup and data recovery program that RunTime Software offers. GetDataBack is a program that I recommend for everyone. This program is for those times when you realize you’ve just deleted an important file and removed it from the Recycle Bin. Just run GetDataBack and tell it what drive to look at and it will allow you to restore most files that have been deleted as long as they haven’t been overwritten.