DIY: Free Windows backup with AceBackup 3

AceBackup 3 is a free backup solution that doesn't sacrifice flexibility and features for a user-friendly interface. Learn how to create a backup in this freeware.

Some of my clients who neglect to implement backups wind up losing all of their data. I doubt you want that to happen to your shop's data, but you may not have the budget for Acronis or Symantec Backup Exec. One free alternative is AceBackup 3, which offers loads of features and makes it easy to successfully back up your desktop or server data. AceBackup 3 won't do full image backups that allow you to restore from bare metal; for that, you'll need something along the lines of Clonezilla or Acronis. But for data backup, this tool is aces.

The one aspect of AceBackup 3 that makes it stand out from many other similar solutions is the Backup Creation wizard. It simplifies the process so much that any user can create a solid, regular backup without having to worry about a learning curve.


AceBackup 3 is a Windows-only solution and requires the following:

  • Windows >= 98 (including Vista and 7)
  • CPU >= 400 MHz Pentium II
  • RAM >= 512 MB
  • Hard Space >= 15 MB


AceBackup 3 offers these features:

  • Backup to CD/DVD, FTP, network locations
  • Up to 256 Bit encryption
  • Scheduler
  • Multi-versioning support
  • Different compression sizes available
  • Include/exclude filters
  • Intuitive interface

Creating a backup in AceBackup 3

The installation of AceBackup 3 is as simple as downloading the installation file and double-clicking the file to install the application.

When you first fire up AceBackup 3, the main window will appear (Figure A). Figure A

All backup projects will be listed in the bottom left pane. As you can see here, none exist.
To fire up the Backup Creation wizard, click the New button in the main window. In the first screen (Figure B), you must configure two options:
  • Project Name: Give this backup a name.
  • Destination: You must select the type of destination (CD/DVD), Local system, Ftp Server, network resource.
Figure B

By default, the backup destination type will be set to a Local System.
You can either change the currently configured destination type by selecting the destination listed and then clicking Edit, or you can create a new destination. Either route you take, all you have to do is select the System type from the drop-down and then add the necessary information for the type selected (Figure C). Figure C

You see the configuration options needed for using a network resource as a backup destination.
Once you configure the destination, click Next to go to the Security And Compressions section (Figure D). Figure D

If you need no encryption or compression, click Next to move on.

Here you can select the method of encryption (AES-128, AES-192, AES-256, Blowfish, Triple-DES) and the Compression level (None, Fastest, Default, Best). None is zero compression; Best is highest compression. Click Next when you complete this step.

The next window requires the configuration for default action on name collision, file type inclusion/exclusion, log file set up, and what to report (Figure E). Figure E

Default action can be Update Older Files Only, Replace Existing Files, or Create New Version.
To add file extensions to either include or exclude, click the "..." button associated with either Included or Excluded and then enter the extension (such as *.exe) in the text area (Figure F) and click Add. After you add all of the extensions you want, click OK. Click Next when you've finished to move on to the Advanced Settings window. Figure F

You can add as many inclusions and exclusions as necessary.
In the Advanced Setting window (Figure G), you can set up the scheduling of your backup job. You simply click the Schedule button, click the New button (in the resulting window), and then set up the time for the backup. Figure G

You can also set up custom executables (such as scripts) here that run before and after a backup.
From the Scheduling window (Figure H), you can set the frequency of the backup (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Once, At System Startup, At Logon, When Idle). From the Advanced window (click the Advanced button), you can set how the task repeats as well as a start date for the backup. Figure H

From the Settings tab, you can configure options to stop a job if it hasn't completed within a certain time-frame; you can also configure idle time and power management.

Now click Next, and if everything in the Verify Project Settings window looks good, click Finish and your backup is ready to go.