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Backup software reviews

Backing up your important digital information is essential.
 
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01 .Introduction

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We review 18 backup software packages, designed for Windows, that promise to keep your data safe.

The more we rely on digital information, the more important it is to have reliable backup storage at all times. Having a current backup also means peace of mind. These three key points are worth considering:

  • Backing up is essential for all users.
  • You don’t have to pay to get a good program.
  • Ease of use is very important.

On this page

For more information on Storage see Software and online services.

Backup options

If you’re using Windows 7 you have access to backup software that comes with the operating system. But does Windows 7 Backup do a good enough job, or would you be better off with a third-party package? 

Can you get by with just copying your most important files to another drive using Windows Explorer? It depends what you are looking for. If you have a limited number of important files and keep them in a single folder, for example, and remember to regularly copy them to an external drive, you may find that is sufficient for your needs. But, you would be in the minority.

cloud-based service is great for giving you offsite (remote) backup and can be configured to set-and-forget, but they are relatively restricted in their capacity due to internet transfer speed and ongoing subscription costs for sizeable backups.

Backing up locally to an external hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) offers you far greater speed and capacity, automatic scheduled backups and no ongoing costs. Even if you use a cloud-based service for only your most important documents (some services are free up to 2GB or more of storage) you can’t beat the reassurance of having a readily accessible second copy at hand and the storage capacity to hold all your files easily, just in case. Digital photos and videos are the “photo shoebox” of the digital era and are irreplaceable. They also typically take up many gigabytes of storage. So you need a regular, automated backup for your peace of mind.

Software tested

 
Did you know?

 

Backing up is so important it has its own day – March 31st is  World Backup Day and everyone is encouraged on the day to backup their data and test that restoring it works.

  • 2BrightSparks SyncBackSE Version 6
  • AceBIT AceBackup 3
  • Acronis True Image Home 2012
  • Argentum Backup 3.00
  • Comodo Backup 4.0 Free Version
  • CyberLink PowerBackup 2.5
  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free 4
  • GFI BackUp 2011 Freeware Edition
  • Host Interface Double Image 7.0
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Backup
  • Nero BackItUp 11
  • NovaStor NovaBackup Professional 12.5
  • NTI Backup Now EZ
  • Paragon Software Backup & Recovery 2012 Free
  • Paragon Software Paragon Backup and Recovery 11 Home
  • Softland Backup4all Standard 4.6
  • Softland FBackup 4.6
  • Symantec Norton Ghost 15.0

How we test

We test each backup program using identical PC hardware running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, using two sets of files each approximately 5GB in size, comprising of one set of small files and one set of large files.

We aim to replicate a typical user experience, creating both ad hoc and scheduled backups and also restoring the backed up files to the PC. Particular attention is paid to the user interface of each program, assessing it for:

  • Ease of use.
  • Clarity of user interface layout.
  • Wizards or other automation.
  • Any other built-in help.

Ease of use was assessed by using the software to select data, back up data, schedule a backup and restore the backed up files, using each available restore option. We also measure performance by timing backup and restoration using each program’s default compression levels to ensure that the programs perform consistently within expectations, but this does not contribute toward the overall score.

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