Here is a quick summary of the most popular backup tools for Windows. In general, there are several different flavors/families of backup tools:
- Traditional file/folder backup tools
- File/directory synchronization tools
- Drive imaging tools
- Online backup tools/services
In this post, I’m focusing on just the first group—traditional tools that let you select a group of files or folders to backup, set up an automated schedule, and then regularly back your files up to a local or network drive.
This list is by no means complete. I’m focusing here only on tools for Windows and looking only at the more popular commercial tools. There are, obviously, lots of open source and freeware tools out there and some of them have feature sets that approach some of the commercial tools.
I looked only at tools targeted at home users, rather than the higher-end server-based backup tools, or tools targeted at the enterprise.
My goal here is to just give people a quick list of some of the tools and do a high-level feature-for-feature comparison.
Here are the tools that I include in the chart:
- Backup Utility for Windows (Win XP built-in)
- Windows Backup (Vista built-in)
- Genie Backup Manager Pro
- Backup Now Advanced
- Handy Backup
- Argentum Backup
- BounceBack Pro
- Cobian Backup
- Windows Live OneCare
Several of these products offer one or more editions, with different pricing and feature sets. Where this is the case, I’m only listing the “professional” edition, or the one with the most features (and highest price).
Here is the feature list for these backup tools. My understanding of which features are provided comes from the product documentation or web site. (Apologies that this is just an image, rather than formatted as a table in HTML):
Backing up individual files or folders is obviously just one prong of a complete backup strategy. An important part of the strategy is also in determining where to back your files to—a second or external drive, network drive, or FTP server. Backing up file sets, though not sufficient for a complete backup strategy, is a good place to start.
If you have a favorite full-featured commercial backup tool that I’ve missed, please feel free to share it in the comments section.
Next time, I’ll finish the backup tool survey by talking about directory synchronization tools, drive/PC imaging tools and online backup services.