Disaster Recovery

Screenshots: Five mostly obscure desktop backup tools

Backup Maker 1

This gallery is also available as a post in the Five Apps Blog.

It's simple: If you're not backing up your data, at some point you're going to regret that mistake. For many medium to large businesses, data is typically backed up via shared directories on a server. But for smaller companies, or end users who have needs outside of shared directories, it's nice to know there are backup tools that can be installed, free of charge, and can handle one, simple task: Backup your desktop data.

I'm not talking about applications with bells and whistles to suit every need. What I'm looking for are applications that can do one job and do it dependably. In my quest to find a backup tool to meet these needs, I came across five that could happily recommend. Let's take a look at these tools and see which, if any, will do the job you need done.

Five Apps

There is one caveat to some of these tools - for a few, the free version is assumed for private use only. The business versions of the same tools can be acquired, for a small price.

1. Backup Maker

Backup Maker is one of those tools you need if what you're looking for is simplicity and security. Backup Maker handles your desktop backups with an interface that nearly anyone (with any level of experience) can use.

Credit: Images by Jack Wallen for TechRepublic

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

13 comments
LouDamelin1
LouDamelin1

Just a general comment. Thanks Jack for your article. I will test a couple of the backups you recommended. I have used several name brand and popular backups only to find that they have more excuses for not working than I could dream of. It's important to test a backup on another machine to see if it is going to work. The test machine should have the same partition setup.

tompthomus
tompthomus

.... and am having good results with it.

parts
parts

I have found that FBackup is one of the few that actually work with Windows2000 as well and will back up to a network drive or server.

Caladan607
Caladan607

For myself, I find Karen's Backup to be great. It has incremental and differential as well as a lot of settings to fine tune your backups and your target. You can also backup just one file, a single directory or part of the HDD. It does not have encryption though, so there is no security. But I have several backups scheduled every night. Things like key work files to a USB that goes with me every day so I can take my work from the previous evening with me, to sending files to the cloud and my external HDD for dual backups. I also do a full backup weekly. Great tool! And it is free!

ragnar.moller
ragnar.moller

To me desktop backup is a tool which backups your desktop (icons and positions). So the title is really misleading. The problem arises in Vista when you unplug your external screen from your laptop. All the icons are messed up. Iconrestorer is the only one I found. In it's free version it's a bit limited. Sure bates rearranging your icons every time. The other problem is loosing the graphics setup of two screen. For this I have found the backup possibility directly in the Intel graphics and media control panel. If you're talking now about simple free non expert backup tools, Coobian backup is my favourite. Il will backup a "corporate" PC with encrypted disks. With these backup tools, watch out about compression: who knows if you will have the means to decompress when you need the data. Maybe your PC, with the program and all was scratched. I frefer uncompressed in that case. If you have a personal PC which you might need to restore, the best is to create a disk image with windows or with a tool like Paragon or Acronis. This weill be of no use if your hard drive is encrypted. Syncback is nice if you are 110% in control. Warnings however: 1. Who knows where your windows progrem has stored info, registry, Progrem file, program data, your /user file the common users file ? 2. Sometimes I saw Syncback make copies of size 0. VERY NICE. Syncback requires a lot of configuration. It's not for the lazy. So for the lazy with a non encrypted disk: disk image to a dige bigger that your target PC. With an encrypted disk: Cobian saving all which is possible. Good for most. To get more info still, create a specific admin account for backup. Stop all processes, programs, unplug internet, stop security software and run coobian. Professional choice: get a support contract or pay a backup program. In any case, don't trust them, try to understand what's happening.

C&C; EnginE
C&C; EnginE

I like SecondCopy 8. Very easy to use and pretty quick, too.

MrBackroomGuy
MrBackroomGuy

I recently came across SyncBack by 2brightsparks.com while searching for a Windows version of rsync. I really wish I had known about this prize jewel a long time ago - it's a fabulous backup solution! I have over 4.5million files to maintain on a backup and SyncBack can do it in a relatively short time period (just over 2 hours). It only updates the changes and can delete the old files from the backup. Better than rsync - yeah, because it's so easy to set up and provides great features!

johnd126
johnd126

I've been using SyncBack for many years (SE and Pro versions as well) and it's very configurable. I'm also a fan of having the saved files in a usable state in the backups so you're not dependent on having a copy of the program when doing restores (SyncBack uses zip files).

msawyer91
msawyer91

Check out WindowSMART 2013 by Dojo North Software. WindowSMART will monitor your hard disk health and SSD health and shoot you an email and mobile device alert if unhealthy conditions are detected. It also has a selective backup capability so if your disk signals that it may fail soon, WindowSMART will back up only the folders you specify so that it will back up only what you deem important. After all, do you really need to back up the C:\Program Files folder? Or would you rather save your pictures and documents? Of course, WindowSMART is not a replacement for a robust backup strategy. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have a tool like that -- it's much better to be proactive and know about a problem while you have a chance to do something about it, rather than having disaster strike and the only thing you can do is try picking up the pieces--or paying big bucks for forensic data recovery. Check out http://www.dojonorthsoftware.net/WindowSMART.html

Cyclones92
Cyclones92

I personally love SyncBack. It has a simple mode and advanced mode. It's extremely powerful and I have it set to automatically back my drives up to another drive. Just something for people to look into.

ftr
ftr

I vote for Backup Service Home 3, for all German-language proficient users. Incremental backups, smooth, no hazzle, continually updated, freeware, at http://www.alexosoft.de/de/

BruceAnd
BruceAnd

I use and recommend to my clients, Microsoft's SyncToy. It does all the different types and best of all is free and I can read the backed up files with Windows Explorer.

adeger
adeger

My vote (for Windows) is Cobian backup. Backs up to non-proprietary, zip files. Full, differential and incremental options. Good file inclusion/exclusion features. Notifications and good logging. License is freeware with donate option (so do that).