Finding a Backup Program
by Chris Taylor
Ive been a
long-time user of Acronis True Image. However, I have
found the user interface has become a mess over the past
few versions and I dont see it getting back to the
simple interface I liked.
When True Image 2013 told to me it isnt Windows
10-compatible, I wasnt offered a free upgrade to
fix the problem. So I decided to go looking to see if
there was a better backup option, preferably free!
For my main desktop computer, my requirements list is
pretty straightforward; image & restore partitions or
entire disks; create full & incremental images;
schedule backups; restore individual files & folders
from an image; and create WinPE rescue media.
For my portables, my requirements are simpler. I dont
need scheduled backups or incremental imaging. I only run
full backups of all partitions periodically because these
computers dont hold for long unique
data files. For these computers, I am looking for
emergency disaster recovery to get back a working
computer with my applications should I have a disk crash
With these mixed requirements, I suspected Id be
well served by a vendor that has a full-featured version
for my desktop and a free version without all the bells
and whistles for my portables.
Macrium Reflect Free v6
Alan German uses and recommends this
It certainly seems robust and easy to use.
However, the free version does not do incremental images.
I do daily backups on my desktop computer. Incremental
images allow me to recover anything to a specific day.
Macrium Reflect is a nice program and if I wanted to
spend US$69.95 for the Home Edition, I would get
the ability to do incremental images and additional
features that might be nice, such as the ability to
restore to different hardware. But I dont.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 14 Free Edition
I found this to be a very confusing program. Its
feature list looks comprehensive, but I was
never sure if I had really configured things optimally. I
was also stumbling around in the program trying to find
where to accomplish some task.
Paragon does have a fantastic feature the ability
to store backup images on a hidden partition.
Why is this so great? I do backups overnight, so my
backup drive is always connected. If I get hit with
malware like CryptoLocker, my backups might be encrypted!
If backups are stored on a hidden partition, malware cant
mess with them. I do have off-site backups immune to
malware attacks, but they only get updated once a month.
When testing Paragon, the backup occasionally failed,
reporting; Invalid partition data partition
control blocks information incompatible. I couldnt
find a solution to the problem. No other backup program I
tested complained of invalid partition data.
The periodic error and confusing user interface made me
abandon Paragon Backup & Recovery. But I sure wish
other backup programs would add the capability to save
backups to a hidden partition!
Two programs out of the running. So I kept looking. And I
found two contenders.
EaseUS Todo Backup Free v8.9
I first looked at EaseUS Todo Backup Free in the
spring of 2014 -
I like Todo Backup Free because it is
clean, simple and quite comprehensive.
It has all the items on my needs list; the
ability to image/restore entire disks or partitions;
incremental images; scheduled backups; recover individual
files/folders; and WindowsPE recovery media.
Todo Backup Free has some nice additional capabilities.
You can specify a series of files and folders for
incremental or differential backup. Another feature
Smart Backup can track a series of
files and folders for changes every half hour and keep
them backed up. It is a rigid scheme but does allow you
to restore a previous version of a file up to 15 days
ago. Todo Backup automatically manages the space used for
this feature quite efficiently.
One problem with backup programs is that the backups,
which can be very large, eventually consume all space
where they are stored. Todo Backup has an Image-Reserve
Strategy available which can automatically delete
older backups to make room for new. You can specify
parameters such as the maximum number of backup images
you want to keep or the length of time you want them
I compared features of the Free version to the Home
and Workstation versions. Home (US$29) adds speed,
ability to exclude certain files from backup (great for
files like the swap and hibernation files and folders
like the Temp directory), email notifications, and a few
other features. Workstation (US$39) adds more speed and
extra features including command line capabilities and
the ability to restore to different hardware.
The free version has everything I need for my portables.
For my desktop, the ability to exclude files is very
useful. Restoring to different hardware might be useful,
but I am not sure I really need that. When I buy a new
computer, I generally install my applications manually,
and migrate my data. That way, I end up with a cleaner
computer because I dont reinstall everything I have
collected over the years. I could probably get
away with the free version on all my computers, including
AOMEI Backupper Standard 3.2
Another interesting program I found was the free
AOMEI Backupper Standard.
I found it to be simple and straightforward to use. It
includes all the capabilities on my needs list.
Backupper Standard also includes file synchronization
where files/folders you select get automatically
synched to another location. This can be done once, or on
a daily basis, or every 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 hours.
It can even restore to different hardware; a feature I
have not found in any other free backup program. I really
dont think I need this, but its certainly a
The Professional version (US$49 for 2 computers)
adds things like command line operation and faster
backups. It includes space management capabilities
similar to the Image-reserve Strategy in Todo
Backup Free. And Professional includes free upgrades for
life! Now thats a bargain!
I did have some difficulties with AOMEI Backupper
The only manual available is a large series
of web pages. But there is a work-around. Install the
30-day eval version of AOMEI Backupper Professional. In
the program folder will be UserManual.pdf. Store a copy
somewhere safe, uninstall Professional and install the
free version. Just ignore parts of the manual that apply
only to the Professional version.
Unlike most backup programs, where the creation of
recovery media is as simple as clicking a couple of
buttons within the program, AOMEI gives a link to
Microsofts Windows Automated
Installation Kit, which you must download and
install. But, under Windows 10, the AIK doesnt
work! After contacting AOMEI, I found out, with
Windows 10, you actually need the Windows Assessment
and Deployment Kit. Download and install it. Then
AOMEI can create recovery media. Dont be too
freaked out when you see the ADK is a 6.5 GB download.
You can turn off everything except Deployment Tools
and Windows Preinstallation Environment for a
download of only 3 GB. Okay, you can still freak
The other thing I found difficult with AOMEI is the
translation to English. Most of the English is not too
bad, and I eventually triumphed over phrases like; Please
specify for the scheme that creating a full backup after
xxx versions of differential backup being created.
The authors of the program freely admit that English is
not their first language and All warm-hearted
translators will receive a free license code plus
lifetime upgrades of the software he or she translates.
Aside from the above difficulties, I found AOMEI
Backupper (Free or Professional) are very capable
My new backup program
Ultimately, I decided on EaseUS Todo Backup. I
bought a Workstation license for my main desktop
computer and am using the Free version on my
portables. But AOMEI Backupper came very close. It has
strong capabilities in the free Standard version
and the Professional version, with free upgrades
for life, is a terrific bargain.
With free and 30-day eval premium versions available, you
can try all these programs and see if any meet your
EaseUS Todo Backup Free v8.9, Free
EaseUs Todo Backup Home, US$29
EaseUs Todo Backup Workstation, US$39
Use checkout code EDU-Q3W5-ORG for 20% discount
AOMEI Backupper Standard v3.2, Free
AOMEI Backupper Professional v3.2, US$49 (2PCs)
Macrium Reflect Free v6, Free
Macrium Reflect Home Edition, US$69.95
Paragon Backup & Recovery 14 Free, Free
Paragon Backup & Recovery Home, US$39.95
Originally published: February, 2016
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