The importance of Windows backups
The importance of data as a company resource is hard to overstate. Therefore, creating and having personal control of backups of your data and applications is a critical necessity for any company, no matter where this data is located. Windows Server is no exception to that rule.
Of course, there are also many individual Windows (typically laptop) users with data that needs to be backed up. Employees frequently store some sort of sensitive data on their personal devices, and there can also be data that is important to one user specifically – which is why regular Windows backups are just as important as their Server counterparts.
The overall choice of Windows backup solutions is quite varied, with plenty of paid solutions that have a differing range of useful backup and backup-related features. At the same time, not every user or company is capable or willing to pay for backup capabilities. Luckily, there are also quite a lot of different backup solutions for Windows that are either partially or completely free, so individuals and organizations have a choice and should be able to find a backup solution that is reasonably appropriate to them.
Bacula as a Windows backup solution
Although Bacula needs a Linux platform to run its core component on, for people looking to have a highly secure, scalable and free backup of their Windows machines or servers – Bacula, an open source Windows backup software, is able to do that with ease. Although its core component needs a linux server to run on, its other component (such as its file and storage ‘daemons’) run on Windows - and its vast array of features and backup policies allow users to create a backup of any size and with any data type included - with an impressive speed, as well. Bacula Community allows you to both back up and recover data while working with a number of Windows versions, from legacy versions, such as Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003 to more modern ones, including Windows Server 2008, 2012 and 2016, Windows 7, Windows 8, etc. As such, Bacula is popular with many medium and large organizations for mission-critical business continuity use.
Of course, Bacula is not a complete disaster recovery system on its own – but it can readily become the software part of a backup system, and is capable of comprehensive disaster recovery orchestration with sufficient planning beforehand.
As a free Windows backup tool, Bacula has several key points when it comes to backup and recovery capabilities. Those key points are:
- Security. Bacula’s unique architecture keeps your data safe at every possible point in time, not only at the storage level or the hardware level, but also in such things as transmission channels or with the data volumes themselves. This is done using the included SSL/TLS support between Bacula components. Bacula is an especially secure backup and recovery solution, for those looking for enterprise grade security.
- Consistency. The backups that Bacula performs can easily go unnoticed – they don’t interrupt your work or affect its performance in any other way. Using Bacula allows you to meet your set RTOs and RPOs no matter what the data type is – be it files, MS SQL databases, Hyper V virtual machines, Active Directory objects, MS Exchange mailboxes or others.
- Integrity. When it comes to choosing your future backup storage type, Bacula is especially flexible. You can use anything from basic disks to NAS, SAN, many different tape types, or Amazon cloud. This variety is natively supported throughout Bacula’s various technologies that heavily protect against any possible data loss or corruption of data.
There’s also several brand new features that make backup creation and data restore even easier than before, like data deduplication – a unique algorithm that usually allows backups to take up significantly less storage space. For example, Bacula v.9.0.0 introduced a new data volume format used to optimize the file placement to help underlying deduplication file systems like ZFS with backup data deduplication. Volumes that are saved in this new format are called aligned volumes (or deduplication optimized volumes).
VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) support allows Bacula to create backups of open files and applications in the middle of the working process - creating consistent data copies. Since VSS is quite old as a technology – quite a lot of Windows-based applications were already adapted to its specifics. Such adapted apps can be called VSS writers; they are aware of VSS’s existence and can create consistent states for themselves when they see Bacula’s snapshot command working.
It is worth mentioning that an application that isn’t “aware” of VSS can still be backed up using shadow copy of the process or the open file, although in that instance there may be no guarantee that the data itself is consistent. One more important detail is that the VSS snapshot saves the state of the data at the moment when the process began, thus not saving any changes to the data that were made in the process of snapshot creation.
Let’s talk more about the less obvious features of Bacula free backup software for Windows servers (and other Windows-based systems):
- BAT (Bacula admin tool) – both powerful and user-friendly GUI allows you to work with Bacula as with your usual Windows software to control your backup settings. BAT users gain access to a variety of features and commands to make their control over backups smoother and more precise than before.
- Encrypting File System (EFS) – a filesystem-level encryption that allows for much better data protection using transparent encryption. It is not enabled in Windows by default, but it can be initialized by users to perform encryption on different scale - per-drive, per-directory or per-file; EFS is using a combination of both symmetric and public key cryptography to make data decryption close to impossible without the correct key.
- Bare metal recovery for Windows – allows you to quickly restore Windows data and applications in case of a disaster that brought data loss or data corruption;
- Incremental and differential backup levels – while the basic ‘Full’ type is still pretty useful, it’s usually beneficial for a free Windows backup tool to have the ability to work with different backup types such as ‘Incremental’ and ‘Differential’, and Bacula does exactly that.
Installing Bacula Free Windows Backup Software
First of all, the installation file itself is a standard .exe file that contains an install wizard within the NSIS Free software installer shell – as normal as it gets. If it’s not a fresh install for you – it is recommended to stop the service, uninstall the previous version of the program and completely clean up Bacula’s installation directory (while keeping the configuration files) before starting the installation process.
One last step before beginning is making sure that you have Administrator privileges before starting the installation process to avoid possible permission problems. After that happens you can begin by simply double-clicking on the executive file called “bacula-win32-x.xx.0.exe” The actual name is the subject to change depending on the version that is installed.
The first window that you’ll see is the welcome screen of the Bacula setup wizard, asking you if you want to install Bacula:
Clicking “Next” would result in a second screen appearing, this one offering the choice between two installation types:
The following screen allows you to choose what exact components you want to install, including several presets and the ability to choose manually:
If there’s no previous installation data detected, you’ll be prompted to input some general information about your local machine:
Right after that, the customization part is done and all you need to do is wait for the program to install:
Of course, once the installation is done, you’ll see the last screen informing you about the installation success and the option to view the Readme file immediately:
That concludes the installation process. You should see a specific icon in the system tray once Bacula is up and running, and the color of the icon might change depending on the current state of the software (standby, in the process of backing up data or when an error is encountered).
Since Bacula’s Windows version is, at its core, a native Windows port to its Unix source code – most of the Windows version is operating using code that’s been working fine with Unix-based systems for a while now. This gives the application itself all of the basic Windows application capabilities, like system tray integration, dialog boxes displaying information about Bacula’s status and such. Bacula’s status as a system service also allows it to launch itself automatically with each Windows startup and to work in the background at all times, even when there’s no one logged in the system itself.
Windows Native Backup vs Bacula
Windows has always given their users some version of the most basic backup and restore tool, for the last few versions, at least. Depending on your current Windows version, you might have one or two of those installed on your system already. Unfortunately, both of them, as native backup tools, are incapable of providing more mobility and versatility, so you’ll most likely have to use a third-party free backup software for Windows Server (and regular Windows systems) anyway.
Of course, Windows has evolved a lot throughout the years – and the same can be said about their built-in backup and restore tools. And, obviously, modern-day Windows (Windows 7, 8, 10) backup tools are much more useful and efficient than the legacy ones.
One of the two present backup tools was created back in Windows Vista and Windows 7 days – it’s called Backup and Restore. As the Windows 7 evolved in Windows 8 – Backup and Restore got completely replaced by another tool called File History.
However, Windows 8.1 update, surprisingly enough, brought back Backup and Restore, making both of the last native Windows backup tools available to its users. Windows 10 continued that trend, and all of its versions to this day have both File History and Backup and Restore available. However, as an older backup tool, Backup and Restore’s future is much less certain than its counterpart – you never know what features would be added or removed with each subsequent update.
While yes, both File History and Backup and Restore have the same purpose – they have some major differences between them, and now we’ll look into the biggest ones.
Backup and Restore (Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10)
Technically this tool was rolled out with Windows Vista, although it wasn’t really popular back then. However, with the release of Windows 7, a lot of users found out about its existence. Backup and Restore is a decent backup service for someone wanting to back up their systems to a local/external hard drive.
Regardless of the Windows version, the access path to Backup and Restore is relatively the same – it is located in the Control Panel window as one of the options if you chose “large icons” mode.
Fairly enough, the tool itself doesn’t offer that much in terms of configuration. You can change the target drive for your backup, and you can choose what would be included in said backup (“Let me choose” option in the backup menu) – and that’s about it. The default settings of Backup and Restore (it’s an option called “Let Windows choose”) are saving up your Windows default folders, your desktop and your libraries with data files. It can also create a system image so you can restore everything even if your system isn’t functioning properly on its own.
File History (Windows 8.1, Windows 10)
File History is a standard backup tool for Windows since Windows 8. Even if the legacy Backup and Restore tool is available as well – it’s Microsoft’s recommendation that you should use File History instead.The main difference between two backup applications is that File History is more about backing up your personal files, and not creating an entire system image.
If you don’t have to create a fully-fledged system image and just want to back up your local files – File History is the tool for you. As soon as the target drive is selected – File History can back up your files and continue updating them later if necessary. It can also keep and restore your files’ previous versions, too, so you can roll back to a previous version of a specific file if something went wrong. Same as with Backup and Restore, you can access File History from your Control Panel’s main window.
Nuances and Limitations
Even though both of these tools seem like a good option for some cases, there are some crucial limitations that both of them have. And since we’re talking about Bacula to begin with, here’s a list of things that Bacula, as a free Windows backup tool, can do (and your native Windows backup solutions can’t):
- Single-File Restore
Being a free Windows backup software, Bacula offers you the ability to restore individual files from a complete backup. It’s different from both of the native Windows backup options: even though File History is capable of restoring individual files, Backup and Restore can only restore the entire images, so it's an all-or-nothing situation.
- Backups in Cloud
While both Backup and Restore and File History are capable of storing backups on local drives – only third-party free Windows backup tools like Bacula would allow you to backup files to a cloud or online. Same goes for uploading backups created with native Windows tools – you’ll need a different application to upload those.
- More Versatile Backup Customization
Unlike both of the Windows native backup tools, Bacula’s free backup software for Windows Server (and regular Windows systems) allows you to back up a multitude of specific file locations, including recycle bin, temp files from small drives (>1Gb), Windows system files, files from a FAT file system and so on.
- No System Image Number Limitations
Only Backup and Restore is capable of creating system images, and it can only do one per one local drive, so you’ll either need multiple drives, or you’ll need a different free Windows backup software like Bacula, that has no such limitations.
As you can see, while both of the native Windows backup services can be useful in some cases, they’re lacking in a lot of areas and basically any third-party backup software would allow you much more options when it comes to backups and restorations.
Third-party free Windows backup software
Of course, while Bacula has quite a lot of advantages as a free Windows backup software, it is fair to mention that there are many other examples of such solutions on the market – solutions that can back up regular Windows environments, Windows Server information, or both. Here is a list of 15 different third-party free Windows backup software:
Cobian Reflector is a backup solution that seems rather simple at first glance – a free software that can create backups of drives, folders or specific files from either local storage locations or network drives/FTP servers. However, it has quite a lot to offer in terms of customization, be it several different backup types (incremental, differential, full), backup compression, backup scheduling or even set up some sort of scenario to be performed once the backup process is complete (ranging from existing simple commands to custom command lines). However, there is one significant issue to this backup solution – it does not have the capability to restore its own backups, so the only way to do so is manually, with the help of a file explorer.
The advantages of Cobian Reflector:
- Multiple backup target locations, from local disks to remote servers via FTP
- A relatively high level of customization and automation, every backup completion process can trigger almost any command possible if the user is capable of setting them up
- Lower storage space requirements because of data compression capabilities
- Several backup types to work with – incremental, differential, full
The disadvantages of Cobian Reflector:
- The overall complexity of the software as a whole from the accessibility standpoint
- A specific level of knowledge in the backup field that is required to be able to operate this particular solution
- Long initial setup process
- The only way to restore backups is to do so manually, there is no automated feature for that
EaseUS Todo Backup is a versatile free backup solution that can backup individual files and entire folders/drives while also being able to save backups either locally or to a free cloud storage location. It can perform several different backup types, can restore specific parts of backups, and more. Capabilities such as password protection, backup scheduling, file compression modification, and so on. It is also only applicable to regular Windows instances (not Windows Server) and renders backups unreadable without its own software to use as a backup browser of sorts.
The advantages of EaseUS Todo Backup:
- A user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate and set up backup operations even for people with little to no experience in the field
- Multiple different backup storage locations, including both local and cloud storage targets
- Disk cloning capabilities, an extremely useful feature for data migration purposes
- A host of useful backup-related features such as compression, encryption, scheduling, and more
The disadvantages of EaseUS Todo Backup:
- EaseUS Todo Backup also has a paid version of its software, and the free version is somewhat limited in its features – for example, it can only backup up to two devices per free account
- The solution in question only covers regular Windows installments, meaning that Windows Server locations are not supported
- The overall pricing and licensing policy of EaseUS Todo Backup can be rather confusing to navigate, both in terms of figuring out what version to pick, as well as for situations where you need to activate one license on multiple different devices
Comodo Backup is a surprisingly versatile backup software for Windows if you consider the fact that it is free. It can work with several different backup storage locations – be it FTP servers, disks, hard drives, network folders, etc. It is also capable of working with multiple backup file types for different systems, such as ISO, ZIP and CBU. There are also some of the traditional features, such as password protection, data compression, backup file separation, and so on. It supports VSS, can change network/CPU priorities for backup purposes, can run custom commands after or even before backups. However, it is a fairly dated solution,and it is rather hard to find any information about it on the official Comodo website in the first place.
The advantages of Comodo Backup
- High level of customization for backup tasks and operations
- Built-in malware scanner, which is a rare option for backup solutions
- 10 GB of free cloud storage for every user
- A variety of useful features, from scheduling and different backup types to backup target location variety, data compression, VSS support, and more
The disadvantages of Comodo Backup
- The software itself can be rather complicated, especially for people that are less experienced in the field of backup and recovery
- The cloud storage that comes with the backup itself is limited to 90 days and would have to be paid for after that to keep using it
- It can also be rather difficult to set up initially, and there may be some settings that you would have to change even after the initial setup process
AceBackup is a great alternative with a rather dated-looking user interface, but its capabilities are on par with what the rest of the free backup software for Windows market can offer – data compression, encryption, password protection, operation scheduling before/after backup events, multiple backup storage locations, and more. It can also exclude or include specific types of files into a backup by segregating them with their definitions, it can save backups into multiple locations at once, and it is fully compatible with the modern Windows installments (not Windows Server).
The advantages of AceBackup:
- A user-friendly, albeit somewhat outdated, interface that even a novice would have no issues navigating
- AceBackup makes sure that your data is both secure and does not take too much storage space with data encryption and data compression, respectively
- Several different backup types – differential, full, and incremental
- Backup scheduling and backup automatization capabilities
The disadvantages of AceBackup:
- Only compatible with Windows systems, meaning no Windows Server and no Linux/Mac support
- The lack of some of the more advanced features, such as backup over the network or cloud backup
- Relatively slow backup speed, especially when it comes to large files
- There is also no versioning available for AceBackup, making it hard to track backup changes
MiniTool ShadowMaker belongs to a category of backup software that is sometimes referred to as “freemium”, meaning that it is a primarily free software that also has paid features in it. As it stands, ShadowMaker’s free toolset is still rather impressive, offering both full and granular backup capabilities, as well as several backup storage locations, backup scheduling, custom backup file sizes, data compression, etc. It is also capable of restoring its own backups even without the help of the working system (if the desktop is not turning on, for example), and each backup can be mounted for easy browsing/synchronization purposes.
The advantages of MiniTool ShadowMaker:
- A competent backup solution completely free of charge, most of the important features are free
- The overall speed of the backup process is quite impressive and is considered higher than average in this field
- It also has a relatively user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and work with
The disadvantages of MiniTool ShadowMaker:
- The free version can only perform backups of entire partitions or entire drives, no backup customization or granularity available
- Only incremental backups are available in the free version of the software
- There is also no continuous data protection (CDP) support in the solution as a whole
Mutual Backup is a rather unusual backup solution since it does not support traditional backup storage methods in the first place – the only possible option is to use another computer’s storage to back up your files and transfer those backups to another computer via the network. The principle itself is close to how cloud backup services are working, but this one uses actual devices instead of public/private cloud storage services. The data in question is compressed and encrypted so that the target computer’s user would not be able to see what you’re backing up, and the restoration process is as easy as downloading files over the network. However, it can be somewhat difficult to set up, since connecting with a device outside your local network requires port forwarding being set up, which might be above the skill level of a regular PC user.
The advantages of Mutual Backup:
- The overall security of the data on both ends, with compression and encryption being used to make sure that backups are inaccessible by anyone but the owner of the data
- This particular solution is somewhat cost-effective for smaller companies because there is no need to invest in dedicated backup hardware or remote server locations, all you need is another computer
The disadvantages of Mutual Backup:
- Relatively complicated initial setup that includes port forwarding, among other unusual steps and actions
- Backup and recovery speed depends entirely on the speed of the internet connection, which can make backup transfers extremely slow in some cases
- There is also a possibility of a backup being corrupted or fragmented if the connection between the two devices is not stable enough
Another relatively famous example of a “freemium” backup solution is FBackup – a free backup solution with a number of paid features that supports both regular and Windows Server installments, offering an assortment of features to its users. A lot of users consider it to be one of the best free Windows backup software offers on the market. It can create backups of files from a wide range of different locations, including local storage and even public cloud locations. It has a useful backup wizard, offers an assortment of preset locations to backup and has a very detailed customization of what files to add to the backup in question. Restoration is also relatively simple with FBackup, offering both complete and granular restoration capabilities.
The advantages of FBackup:
- The price is one of the biggest advantages of FBackup, being a free backup solution for Windows installments
- There is a decent number of ways to customize backups with FBackup, and backups themselves are faster than average
- FBackup’s interface resembles that of a Microsoft software, making it relatively easy to use for most people, even without any prior experience with backup customization
The disadvantages of FBackup:
- Since it comes as a free counterpart to a paid Backup4all solution, it is only natural that some features would not be available in the free version
- Only full backups are available, without an option to use differential or incremental backups
- There are ads of the Backup4all that may appear from time to time inside of the software’s interface
Macrium Reflect belongs to a specific backup software type that focuses mainly on backing up partitions or entire systems at once, which is why there is no capability for individual folder or file backup. What Macrium can do is create backups in two different ways – by creating an image of a partition in a proprietary format (MRIMG), or just copy all of the data to another storage location of sorts. Multiple storage locations are supported at once, and there are also features such as scheduling, automatic operations after certain backup/recovery actions, data compression, and it can also split the backup file into multiple parts whenever necessary.
The advantages of Macrium Reflect:
- Both image backups and disk cloning are relatively uncommon features for these kinds of solutions, which is why it is great that Macrium has those
- Macrium’s encryption is also rather strong, making it highly unlikely for your data to be decrypted even if it gets stolen somehow
- Despite the fact that Macrium Reflect only has free trials to offer, all of its paid licenses are perpetual and have no time limitations whatsoever
The disadvantages of Macrium Reflect:
- It is a solution focused on Windows system backups, meaning that there is no Linux or Mac support in the first place
- There is no granular backup capabilities and the solution cannot perform incremental backups, meaning potential issues with backup sizes in the future
- Even though the solution does offer permanent licenses, it is still one of the more expensive offerings on this list
Freebyte Backup is a very simple free backup software for Windows that does not have much in terms of functionality. It can backup several folders at once to one of many supported network, external or internal drives, it can filter specific files to be backed up or not, and there’s also an option to only create backups of files that were changed after a specific date. However, there are no encryption or customization options included, and scheduling capabilities are basically nonexistent – even though it is possible to launch this software on schedule if a third-party backup solution is used.
The advantages of Freebyte Backup:
- Its simplicity means that it is very easy to work with, anyone should be able to navigate Freebyte Backup’s interface with little to no issues whatsoever
- It supports a multitude of different target storage devices, from regular hard drives to network drives and USB sticks
- There are some settings that can be customized, such as file filtering, backups of several folders at once, and so on.
The disadvantages of Freebyte Backup:
- There are no encryption options included whatsoever, making it a rather problematic backup solution from a security standpoint
- Freebyte’s status as a freeware means that there is little to no customer support available, making it far more difficult to solve issues if any of those arise in the future
- There is very little that can be customized for the backup itself, and the scheduling capabilities are as basic as it gets
Paragon Backup & Recovery is another software on the list that focuses on bigger, more complex backup jobs, with partitions and entire disks being its top priority in terms of backup operations. It can save backups into several different formats – a widespread VHD format (Microsoft Virtual PC Image), as well as VMDK (VMWare Image format) and its own proprietary PVHD (Paragon Image) format. It can compress backups and split them into smaller pieces, has a moderate level of customization in terms of which directories to create backups of, and is rather easy to restore data with. It is worth noting that the full set of features is only available when you have created a free user account with the service – be it manually or via some other account service, such as Google. It is also one of the few solutions on the list that is capable of working with both Windows and macOS.
The advantages of Paragon Backup & Recovery:
- The capability to work with both Mac and Windows devices is a big advantage in this particular field
- There is quite a lot to work with in terms of features, including multiple different file formats, data compression, as well as other means of backup customization
- Its disaster recovery options are also rather useful, offering bootable media creation, system recovery, and more
The disadvantages of Paragon Backup & Recovery:
- Paragon’s licensing model means that the solution is only free for personal use, and commercial clients would have to purchase a license to use the solution
- There is no support for cloud storage options whatsoever, which can be a big detriment for some companies
- Multiple features such as disk partitioning and disk copying are only available in the commercial version of the solution
Areca Backup is a fairly standard solution with a bit of a complicated user interface. Once you get used to how it operates, you get a free backup solution that supports drag-and-drop for backup target locations, and is capable of saving backups into a variety of local or network storage locations – with the exception of external hardware. There’s also support for specific scripted operations before or after the backup process as a whole, and a rather inconvenient backup restore process that lets you choose the restoration folder – with the exception of the folder or data location that you took the data in the first place.
The advantages of Areca Backup:
- The price – Areca Backup is an open-source solution distributed via GPL v.2, meaning that it is completely free for everyone
- Areca also supports drag-and-drop for backups and multiple different backup target storage types
- A variety of scripted operations can be set up to be performed either before or after the backup process itself
The disadvantages of Areca Backup:
- Unfortunately, Areca suffers the same disadvantage as some of the open source solutions – having a complicated interface and requiring a high user knowledge level to be able to operate the solution properly
- Areca’s recovery process is also rather convoluted, and it does not allow for a backup to be restored in the same location it was originally created from
- Even though Areca supports local and network storage locations, it cannot save backups to an external storage of sorts, which can be rather inconvenient in some cases
AOMEI Backupper Standard is a convenient free backup solution with a good number of options and features – some might even say that it is one of the best free Windows backup software offers out there. It can create full disk backups, system backups, partition backups and backups of specific files/folders. It is also capable of partition/drive cloning, there are plenty of different backup storage locations to choose from, and you can even save your backups into AOMEI’s own cloud storage. Other features include file encryption, data compression, backup separation into multiple smaller parts, backup scheduling, and more. The restoration process is also fairly convenient, offering the capability to browse through backups before their restorations as easy as if they were regular files and folders – with the ability to restore specific files or folders, as well.
The advantages of AOMEI Backupper Standard:
- The data security is one of the best on the market with AOMEI Backupper, with file encryption and many other features built for the sole purpose of making sure that the customer’s data is always safe and sound
- There is also plenty of different backup and recovery customization features that this solution can offer, including different backup types, different backup target storage locations, and even AOMEI’s own cloud storage as one of those targets
- Granular restoration and easy backup browsing are also included in the package, creating a strong offering feature-wise
The disadvantages of AOMEI Backupper Standard:
- The free version of the software is extremely limited in its capabilities, and most of the features are only available in paid versions of the solution
- AOMEI’s customer support capabilities are also quite limited
- The paid version of the solution is on the more expensive side of the market when compared with other offerings in this sphere
FileFort Backup is another relatively simple free backup solution that offers a rather basic feature set. It can create a backup in a ZIP file, in a self-extracting EXE file or in its own BKZ file format. It has a helpful backup wizard, and backups can be created of multiple files or folders, with the ability to save them anywhere from a different folder within the same drive to external hard drives, disks, network folders, and more. It is a solution that’s capable of backup file filtering, it works on both Windows and macOS devices, and its recovery process lets you choose from restoring to the original backup location and a custom one.
The advantages of FileFort Backup:
- Relative simplicity of the backup solution makes it a lot more accessible to the casual user
- There are multiple formats a backup can take, including a proprietary BKZ format and a self-extracting EXE file
- The backup in question can also be saved to a variety of different locations, including network folders, external drives, disks, internal drives, etc.
The disadvantages of FileFort Backup:
- There is no way to restore a part of a backup, the only option is to restore everything that was saved in the first place
- The solution itself has no procedure in place to check if the backup was performed correctly or if the data inside of the backup is consistent and would be restored correctly if necessary
- No versioning capabilities are available in this solution, making it harder to monitor changes and modifications to backup files
Adding another solution to a rather short list of free backup software that specializes in full-drive backup creation, Redo Rescue is a great option for last-reserve backups of files and data. It supports many different backup target locations, such as USB devices, FTP folders, SSH and NFS, or even an internal hard drive. This kind of backup is also only capable of being opened if running from a bootable drive of sorts, which is why the backup’s contents are not readable by regular means. It has quite a lot of limitations, but is still a great solution for some sort of last-resort backup restoration tactic.
The advantages of Redo Rescue:
- A great way of creating a “last resort” type of backup that always exists as a failsafe in case every other protective measure fails
- Offers a variety of different target storage locations, including NFS, SSH, FTP folders, and even USB external devices
- The solution in question is also completely free with no hidden costs attached whatsoever
The disadvantages of Redo Rescue:
- The only backup type that can be created with Redo Rescue is the full backup of the entire system, there is no granularity available at all
- It also cannot create backups of a running operating system, which is a massive issue for always-on enterprises and other companies that work in a similar fashion
- Additionally, it is highly likely that an average user would have to acquire additional hardware for one of Redo Rescue’s backups to be restored in the first place, since this solution only restores its data if used as a boot drive
The last, but not the least free backup solution on this list is Iperius Backup – a user-friendly backup service that has a number of features useful for several different types of backup operations. It can back up an unlimited number of different files and folders and there are several different backup target locations, such as local drive, network folder, and so on. There are three different backup types, as well as data compression, password protection, custom command activation at backup completion and backup scheduling. It is also fairly easy to exclude specific parts or file formats from the backup as a whole.
The advantages of Iperius Backup:
- Plenty of useful features in the free version, and even more features in the paid one, including imaging, VM backup, and many others
- Both network and online backup target locations are supported by the full solution, and there can even be several different destinations in a single backup job
- Even the free version can work with Windows Server installments, making it useful to both regular customers and small businesses
The disadvantages of Iperius Backup:
- While the free version can be used for Windows Server backup purposes, it is extremely limited in that regard and is mostly created for customer backup purposes
- Software’s logs could use more details, especially when it comes to explaining errors, and the overall software interface is not the most user-friendly as a whole
- The software itself does require at least a basic level of understanding how backup software operates to make it easier to work with, there are plenty of options and design choices that would not be obvious to a completely new user
There are plenty of options on the market of free Windows backup solutions, from built-in options to many different third party ones. There are several different categories of these solutions, as well, and each category has its own set of features, as well as specific use cases for these features.
For example, AceBackup or COMODO Backup would be a great fit for users that are willing to deal with a rather dated interface in exchange for a variety of backup-related features, and AOMEI Backupper or EaseUS TODO Backup would serve as a perfect backup solution for micro-businesses, offering the possibility to scale even further than the free version if necessary. For more experienced users there is also Bacula, which is a great option with plenty to work with in terms of backup capabilities.
Bacula shines as one of the more versatile free Windows backup solutions, offering a variety of different features and options in a single convenient package that covers a wide range of data, files, and applications far beyond that of only Windows environments. It also offers especially high levels of security - something that is crucially important in backing up Windows environments. If you're also interested in Linux Backup, and not just Windows or macOS backups, you would do well to check out the Bacula solution.