Whether you're a business or personal user, it's essential to have some form of backup software in place for all your documents and data, else risk losing everything to a harddrive crash.
While there are cloud backup solutions such as Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive available for general use, it's best not to rely on a single backup solution. Ideally, any cloud backup would be supported be another solution such as an external harddrive.
However, trying to coordinate everything together can be a pain, as you don't want to have to manually copy all of your files and folders to another backup just because a few have changed. This is especially as you won't want it to complicate your document management, especially when using file management to share files securely.
Luckily, there are a number of backup software solutions that aim to do exactly this, by allowing you to easily and automatically set up different backups as and when you need to. In some instances it's simply a case of new files being copied across as soon as they are saved, and for others it's a case of having regular backups carried out at specific times.
While there are also free backup solutions available, here we'll focus on the paid-for software, though a number have free tiers or free trails available.
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Best backup software - at a glance
A full featured backup solution
Acronis True Image is a full featured backup solution that promises to “never lose another file.”
This backup software simultaneously sends data to both a local drive, and a cloud solution. It can also do cloning and mirror imaging duties for your rig’s system drive, in just two easy clicks.
Acronis True Image has an anti-ransomware feature that detects, and can even reverse the unauthorized encryption of a hard drive to keep data safe from this increasingly prevalent type of attack. It also offers support for mobile device backup. The downside is that all this backing up does use some system resources, and can even lengthen boot times.
A license for a single device goes for a one-time purchase of $59.99, but does not include any cloud storage space. Alternatively, you can pay for an annual subscription for the same price (every year) that includes 250GB of cloud storage space, and allows for the software to be upgraded to the latest version.
Pricing for the subscription services starts from $49.99 a year, but a premium subscription for one computer saving up to 1TB is priced at $99.99 a year, with costs increasing for the subscription plans according to how many additional computers you would want to backup.
A flexible solution in the backup arena
EaseUS ToDo Backup is a solution that has been around for over a decade, with packages for businesses, home users and even service providers. It offers software for both Windows (XP and higher) and Mac platforms.
In the Home and Home Office tier, it can handle an incremental or full backup for up to 16TB of data, including coping with multiple partitions, hardware RAID, and it also supports cloud backups.
While there is a free tier, the single paid Home tier offers more features for those really concerned with managing their backups on a regular basis. The Home edition is available for a one-time fee of $59.99, or alternatively you can subscribe for $29..95 a year, or $39.95 every two years.
The Business options for a single Workstation are $79 for a one-time licence, or for a subscription of either $39 a year or $49 every two years. There are additional options for servers and technicians which offer an even more rich range of features.
Enterprise options for home backup
Paragon Backup & Recovery offers a flexible solution to simplify complex backup solutions. With the Create Backup Job wizard, guidance is provided to what will be backed up, and where the data will be stored.
This software covers all the usual backup processes, and can easily create complex routines, including automated backup. A standout feature is the WinPE recovery media, which in the worst case scenario comes to the rescue for when your PC refuses to even boot. Via a bootable USB stick, users can rescue files, fix boot problems, and even perform a restoration to get up and running again in a jiffy.
Pricing for home use starts from around $90 for a single home user license. For business users you will need to contact Paragon for a quote.
Does the basics well, but only the basics
NovaBackup is a solid backup solution available as a subscription, and ideal for the essential backup task of making a copy of your computer’s hard drive on local media. For modest users this will suffice, but it falls short when it comes to the interface, support for platforms other than Windows and Linux, and more advanced tasks.
However, it does at least include any upgrades to the program, and also supports backup to cloud providers (including OneDrive and Dropbox).
The standout feature of NovaBackup PC is the security offered, as the software runs locally to send the data to a local media drive, and does not connect to the internet. Also, the backup can be performed with AES 256-bit encryption for extra security.
Pricing for home users begins from $49.95 for an annual subscription for a single PC, which offers protection against data loss, ransomware, and hardware failure. There's also a server edition available from $199 per year, which offers optional support for virtual machines, SQL, and Microsoft Exchange, as well as being HIPAA compliant.
Backup app that plays nicely with your PC’s other tasks
Genie Timeline promises “effortless protection for all your files,” and can be configured in three steps. There is a trial available for Windows XP and higher, although not for other platforms.
This software is focused on traditional drive backup to a media drive, and the developer offers separate solutions for other situations including Android backup and cloud backup needs, keeping Genie Timeline Home 10 from being a more comprehensive application.
The app sits in the Windows system tray as an icon, quietly going about its business. Notable features include the option to have the backup run at full speed via Turbo Mode, or to run in Smart Mode which intelligently adjusts itself based on the available system resources.
For those who hate interruptions, this software has a Game/Movie mode which automatically stifles any annoying pop-ups, to make sure that your gaming or viewing experience isn’t compromised. There’s a mobile app for iOS, but not for the more popular Android platform.
Genie Timeline offers a free trial, and while it advertises a price starting from $59.95 for Genie Timeline Home, do note that the online ordering system will routinely add paid-for support which will almost double the cost unless you delete that option from your shopping cart.
Also consider these backup solutions
There are a few other options worth considering, not least free backup software which is still useful but will tend to have fewer options and configurations you can customize for what you need, plus of course there's always the option to use cloud backup software. Here we'll look more closely at some of those options:
Google One is the new name for Google Drive, which allows home uses up to 15GB of free storage. Simply download the Google Backup and Sync app to your computer, install and run, and this will create a folder in your Windows file explorer from to which you can save your most important documents. While there are paid options to upgrade, this can prove expensive over the long-term if you want to backup and sync a sizable harddrive.
Microsoft OneDrive is the backup and sync storage option bundled with Microsoft Office 365. There is a free version that allows up to 10GB of storage, but that it means it suffers from the same limitations as above, not least that you'd be better off using cloning or image software to back up your full harddrive. Even still, it's a useful keep to keep the most essential files safe.
Dropbox is another cloud server that allows you to save important documents online, again being free to use with the same limitations as above. But as before, the ability to save a smaller number of essential files, such as for work, study, creative projects, and similar, can be invaluable.
Cobian Drive is something you install and setup on your PC for local use, which means that your saved files and folders are saved elsewhere on your machine, such as a second harddrive specifically for backups, or an external harddrive for the same purpose. The software is a little old but it's still useful and worth considering for a free and quick fix.
Backup4all is the paid version of the free FBackup solution, this time adding more advanced features and a wizard for easily setting up your back up options. The software is relatively inexpensive, with pricing starting from at $23.99 and there's a 30-day free trial to allow you to test it out. As well as support for local and external harddrives, it can also save to a USB stick or to a designated cloud service.