Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

By Joe Callison
30 October 2019

The File History feature in Microsoft Windows 10 or Time Machine for Apple macOS are fine for automatically backing up user files to another hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) but should your main drive with your operating system and program files suddenly die, it is very convenient to have a recent backup of your complete system that can be restored quickly and easily onto a replacement drive.
The System Image Backup in Windows can be used, but it is not very simple to get to, often fails to complete when performed, is terribly slow, and a pain to find the backup VHD file to explore the contents.

For Windows users, I have found three products that are excellent for backup and recovery whether you use the free versions for home users or pay for the premium versions. My criteria for excellence in a free version are the following features:

  • Easy to understand user interface
  • Ability to back up from a program while running in Windows
  • Ability to create bootable recovery media to be able to restore the backup on a new drive
  • Ability to explore the backup contents
  • (Optional) Ability to schedule automatic backups

EaseUS ToDo, Paragon Backup & Recovery, and Macrium Reflect are three products I have tried that meet my criteria. I would recommend any of these, but there are some differences that may make one more appealing than the others. In my opinion, Paragon has the simplest user interface that should be very intuitive for even a novice to create a backup. Just select the source you want to backup, the destination you want to back up to, and then click the Back Up Now button. EaseUS is also fairly easy to use and has the easiest ability to explore the backup contents by just double-clicking on a backup file. Paragon requires using the bootable recovery media to explore files unless you choose the option of creating a backup in the Microsoft VHD format instead of the proprietary Paragon image format. Macrium Reflect has the most complex user interface of the three but also has more features included in the free version. Double-clicking on a Macrium Reflect backup file opens the full Macrium Reflect program in order to be able to explore the backup, unlike EaseUS that only opens a small executable add-on to the Windows File Explorer to display the backup content. All three products include the ability to schedule backups even with the free versions. I consider this feature to be less important because it would require having the backup drive connected to the computer when the backup is scheduled to run. Leaving the backup drive connected all of the time would make it vulnerable to malware attacks or loss just as the main drive you are backing up would be.

I don’t have anything against purchasing software that you find useful, but the free version of any of these should provide all of your backup and recovery needs. I would recommend trying one or more of the free versions first before deciding to make a purchase. Links to the three products are below:

For Apple macOS users, I have used the free version of SuperDuper! It is also available for many of the older macOS versions that some people are still using as listed under the System Requirements section. The link is below:

Posted by Joe Callison

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