Best free backup software

You never know when disaster will strike so it's always best to have a plan to save your data

In this day and age, businesses need to prepare for the worst. With cyber attacks proliferating and mountains of data to keep safe, one of the most important aspects of protecting any business in 2021 is to have an iron-clad backup strategy in place.

We see it too many times where businesses neglect their backups and end up paying the price for it down the road when the inevitable strikes. Ransomware is a modern-day nightmare nobody likes to think they’ll be targeted with, but it will strike your business at some point, whether it’s a multinational firm or a humble SMB. Making sure the business can recover in any worst case scenario is imperative in keeping the lights on and retaining trust from customers.

Businesses can choose to spend as much or as little as they like on their disaster recovery plan. We’ve previously detailed some of the best paid options on the market, but there are also a number of great alternatives that don’t cost a single penny. We’ve rounded up a selection of the very best below - there will be one for every business, it’s just a case of picking which one is the perfect fit for your business.

Cobian Backup

Cobian Backup 11 Gravity Dashboard

Cobian Backup 11 Gravity

Cobian Backup 11 Gravity Dashboard

Cobian Backup 11 Gravity is the latest stable version of the free application. It can be used to make automatic backups of files and directories. It can be run as a service or regular application too.

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What makes Cobian Backup one of the best backup tools is that it's completely free for even some of the more advanced features. Although it's a bit complicated and probably packs in too much for beginners who just want to be able to back up their files in case of failure, it's well worth the consideration because it's so well set up to grow with you and your needs.

Cobian Backup is also available as Cobain Backup Reflector. Still in beta version, so expect some bugs, the new program is .NET-based and comes with some different tricks. It has support for SFTP transfers, is DPI-independent, and behaves as a 64-bit program in 64-bit systems and as a 32-bit program in 32-bit systems.

Cobian Backup also supports multiple backup locations, whether you need to just store your files on your local computer, on a local network or an FTP server for complete peace of mind. What's so great about Cobian Backup is that if you need to run more than one backup at a time, to multiple locations, they can all happen at the same, significantly saving the amount of time it takes to make sure your files are safe and sound.

However, although backups are pretty speedy, if you ever need to restore your data, you'll be waiting a while. Restoration tasks are pretty sluggish in comparison to backup, so if you're backing up data you'll need urgent access to in case of an outage, you may want to consider another option.

Paragon Backup and Recovery 16 Free

Paragon Backup and Recovery 16 Free makes the job of copying your data a cinch. The wizard-based interface allows users to backup up entire systems, partitions, folders and files, down to location and file type.

There is also a data management toolset that includes a WinPE recovery medium to help create a rescue system on a USB stick. This enables users to access hard drives, even if Windows doesn't boot.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free

EaseUS 13.5 Dashboard

EaseUS 13.5

EaseUS 13.5 Dashboard

EaseUS Todo Backup Free offers step-by-step instructions to quickly backup and recover files and folders. It can back up everything from entire systems down to individual files. To save space, users can specify backing up only changes made since the last backup. There is also a scheduler so backups can be timed to suit.

Data can be backed up to CD/DVD, local hard drive, external drive, iSCSI device or any network target. 

Comodo Backup

Comodo Backup can be configured to automatically backup data from individual files to an entire drive. It can even backup individual email accounts and browser data.

It supports full backup, differential backup, incremental backup, as well as synchronised backup. Backups can be saved to a local drive, optical media like a CD/DVD/BD disc, network folder, external drive, FTP server, or sent to someone over email. Backups can be saved using the popular ZIP or ISO format as well as Comodo's CBU proprietary format. 

Genie Timeline

Genie Timeline is an easy-to-install backup tool that only needs two steps to configure your backups. It also features an automatic purge function to save space. It has a protection level to indicate the health of any backups made.

It can backup documents, pictures, music, videos and more in addition to backing up new and modified files and detect changes. What's more, it also keeps versions to recover older or deleted files.

Types of backup

If you still aren’t sure which backup software is right for you, it can be helpful to more deeply understand the different types of backup. Primarily there are two: image backup and regular backup.

Image backup is an image of the entire operating system (OS), with everything inside it included from files and programmes to OS and application configurations. If Windows crashes for whatever reason, the OS can be rebooted from the image file, eliminating time-consuming and laborious reinstall processes. The caveat here is that image files are unsurprisingly large and take time to create, and so making one on a regular basis is impractical.

Regular backup includes full backup where copies are made of all selected data and differential backup which copies data that has changed or been added since the last full backup. The nature of differential backup demands that each is larger than the last, and to restore your system it must be used in conjunction with a full backup.

Here, business needs must be identified. It may be that only certain files are essential to business continuity. If so, regular backup may be more suitable, so bear that in mind when detailing a strategy and selecting backup software.

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