Best free backup software

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

Backup data button on a keyboard

If you don't backup your data, at some point in the future this decision could come back to bite you. Disk drives will ultimately fail, or a ransomware will forever encrypt your precious data unless you fork out a hefty amount of cash. That is why it should be the number one priority for businesses and individuals to use backup software so a copy of your essential data is to hand if the worse happens.

We've already outlined some of the best backup options here, but what if you don't want to shell out? We've rounded up some of the best free backup software applications currently on the market for you. 

Cobian Backup

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.

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You can use the backup tool to not just backup as and when you need it, but to also schedule backup tasks - whether you just need one folder backed up or need to run multiple backups concurrently.

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

This free backup software 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.

Google Backup and Sync

While not a normal backup application, Google Backup and Sync enables users to keep a copy of essential files and folders, depending on how much online storage you have with your Google account. 

You can choose which folders and files you wish to backup, and the software does the rest. It will monitor and changes to folders and files. It will also sync data between different computers and files can be accessed via a web app.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free

This software 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 last back up. 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

This free backup software 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. 

Genie9 Timeline

This easy-to-install backup tool 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 programs, 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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