Best Windows Backup Software in 2023

An introduction to the best commercial and free backup tools to create regular backups.

For the best possible data security, you should create regular backups of your important files. Ideally, the backup runs automatically and time-controlled without your intervention.

Backups with appropriate software should be part of the obligatory task of every computer user. As a matter of fact, hard drives and SSDs do not last forever. In addition, disaster might strike such as hacker attacks, a fire, a flood or simply a wrong mouse click.

Fortunately, there are appropriate backup tools that are already available for free. Please keep in mind that the programs differ significantly in terms of how they work, the functionality they offer and the price. We introduce you to free tools as well as commercial tools below.

Image-based tools clone the entire hard drive or SSD or individual partitions to external data carriers, network shares or the cloud. File-based backups back up a selection you specify, such as photos and documents, but leave out the Windows installation and installed programs.

R-Drive Image 7 - commercial

R-Drive Image creates full, incremental or differential backups and can also verify them. In addition, copying from hard disk to hard disk is supported and images can be integrated as virtual hard disks. You can browse these and restore individual files and folders. The software understands Microsoft's FAT (16/32), NTFS and exFAT, Apple's HFS/HFS+ and APFS as well as the variants of UFS1/UFS2 and Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 FS (Linux) as well as ReFS. R-Drive Image also supports hardware RAID (as individual volumes) and software RAID: Windows, Apple and Linux mdadm. You can store images almost anywhere and on any medium. The program even burns CDs and DVDs independently.

Other features include email notifications of job completion, running programs based on the success or failure of the process, the ability to bypass file or disk errors and continue with the job, using Windows or its own shadow service and reducing resources when CPU usage occurs. Scheduling relies on the existing Windows task scheduler.

O&O DiskImage 18 Pro - commercial

Manually with a mouse click or scheduled, O&O DiskImage creates images of data disks, partitions or a selection of files. By interacting with Microsoft Hyper-V virtual drives, backups can be written as VHD/VHDX files and mounted as virtual drives in the Windows file system. This makes it easier to restore content from the backup.

If the backup job is configured, the backup runs regularly in the background. How quickly this is done also depends on the options selected. Compression and encryption come at the cost of speed. But that should be a negligible criterion, since backups should ideally be done in the evening or night hours. When restoring a damaged partition, either access a boot medium or use the O&O DiskImage Recovery partition.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office - commercial

Acronis software has long since ceased to be only a backup tool. Real-time protection against viruses and other malware, as well as a web filter designed to protect users from malicious websites, have already been added in recent years. Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office mastered the data backup - as an image or file selection - with flying colors in the test. Folders and drives are quickly selected using the usual idiosyncratic user interface.

To save storage space, older backups can be deleted after a certain time or number. In addition to local targets, network resources and FTP servers, the software also backs up to the Acronis cloud. Depending on the upstream speed, however, this often takes an excruciatingly long time. So it's good that manually started and scheduled backups run as a background service and don't bother the user.

Ascomp Synchredible 8 - commercial, free for private use

In addition to image-based backups, synchronization with Synchredible is an option. The software, which is free for private users, keeps selected files and directories up to date in two places. Local and external data carriers, network shares and cloud storage devices mapped as drives are supported as targets.

Orders are set up for synchronization. A well-made assistant helps with this. Set source and destination, choose options, set up filters and automate synchronization in seven steps. In addition to times, intervals and events are also available. For example, the job always starts when you connect a specific USB data carrier to the PC or switch off the PC. Thanks to the support of the Windows VSS service, files that are in use are also synchronized.

Macrium Reflect 8 Free Edition - free

Macrium was one of the first companies to release a free version of its backup software. Reflect Free 8 is a stable and reliable solution for fast system backup and restore. Reflect Free is limited to backing up disks or individual partitions - there is no such thing as file-based backup. You save the images at plannable backup intervals and use data compression and password protection. You can choose between full backups or differential backups, in which only changed and new files are taken into account. Other local data carriers or network shares can be set up as backup destination. Backups to the cloud are not supported.

To easily restore content, mount the image file as a virtual drive in Windows Explorer. If Windows does not want to start, boot with the Windows PE rescue system (CD/DVD or USB data carrier). In addition, you can integrate Macrium Reflect into your PC's boot menu in order to access backups directly without a rescue medium.

Clonezilla - free

Clonezilla is a proven platform-independent stand-alone solution for backing up entire partitions and entire systems. With Clonezilla you can copy a complete operating system installation including all data from one computer to another. You download the Clonezilla ISO image and burn it onto a CD. You then start Clonezilla from this CD if you want to create the backup – Clonezilla is therefore a live system. Alternatively, you can also start Clonezilla from a USB stick.

The copies made with Clonezilla take up less space than the original partition because Clonezilla only copies the parts of a partition that are actually used. Clonezilla supports ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs, FAT and NTFS file systems.

Cobian backup - free

Cobian Backup can create backups via the network, can compress the data backups and also creates incremental backups. Cobian Backup also creates backups fully automatically and time-controlled according to your specifications. The free tool can also back up files that are currently being used at the time of the backup.

DriveImage XML - free

With DriveImage XML you can easily backup and restore partitions. DriveImage XML saves partitions and logical drives into image files that can be browsed and from which individual files can also be extracted.

Drive Image XML supports hard drives with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS.

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