This is somewhat backwards from my usual approach.
Normally I’m pleading with you to back up, and throwing out recommendations for programs and techniques to help make it easier and more likely that you’ll do so.
My most recent book is yet another attempt to make backing up simpler: Just Do This: Back Up!
But I’m currently faced with a dilemma. If you are backing up, the tables have turned.
I need your advice.
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Driving a Cadillac
My recommended backup software, Macrium Reflect, was recently updated to version 6.
I’ve installed it, and it’s working well. They’ve added features, and changed the look of a few things, so I have an update to my Macrium Reflect book on the to-do list.
I still like Reflect, use it myself, and consider it a reliable and trustworthy backup solution.
For a price.
The problem is that with the new version came a new price – a price I fear has moved Macrium Reflect out of the reach of many home users. Yes, in theory, backups are important enough that it should be worth the price. And indeed, I consider Reflect the Cadillac of backup programs.
But not everyone can afford a Cadillac. Some need a cheaper, yet still reliable, alternative. (And the free version of Macrium, while still free, actually doesn’t meet all of my criteria mentioned below.)
That’s where you come in.
If you’re backing up regularly, and especially if you’ve been through any of the restore procedures that we often talk about (restoring a failed hard drive, restoring individual files, etc.), I’d like to know what software you use.
Here’s what I look for in a comprehensive backup package:
- Full-image backup: the ability to back up a complete image of an entire hard disk.
- Incremental backup: the ability to back up only those things that have changed since the previous backup.
- “Bare metal” restore: the ability to restore a backup image to a completely empty hard disk.
- Scheduling: the ability to define and have backups happen automatically.
- Individual file recovery: the ability to recover individual files from full disk images.
- Reasonable price.
- Reasonable tech support.
Other features that are “nice”, but not absolutely required, include:
- Disk space management: the ability to automatically delete older backups according to specified criteria.
- Disk cloning: a variation of imaging that includes backing up actual file layout and free space.
- Restore to different hardware: the ability to take an image created for one machine and restore it to a different one. (I have mixed feelings on this, since I tend to be skeptical that the feature can work reliably, but I’d love to hear otherwise.)
Contenders so far
I already have a couple of backup programs on the radar to evaluate:
I’d love to hear your experience with either.
One product you’ll see excluded from the list above is Acronis, for reasons described at my former Acronis recommendation page.
So, my question to you is this:
What other programs that meet my criteria belong on the list? What backup program do you use? (And while I’m at it, what criteria am I overlooking?)
Let me know in the comments below.
Important: The way many companies push their products, this is pretty close to asking for web spam. As a result, I’ll be watching very closely for comments that look like spam, and they’ll be deleted. Similarly, if I suddenly get flooded with marketing contacts, or email pushing a particular backup solution, I will remove the product from the list to be considered.2