Having spent many years looking for the ideal (for me, anyway) backup mechanism resulting in having none at all beyond creating disk/partition images at random intervals (my luck in never having needed to use them is wholly undeserved) I can only report my latest observations (the following assumes that you're running an OEM Windows system with GPT disk and UEFI BIOS; if not, your options are considerably less limited):
1. Easeus Todo Backup free (current version 6.5) seems to (i have yet to use it) include incremental (though not differential) backup for both files and drives/partitions, thus encouraging frequent backups that are efficient in consumption of both time and disk space. It does not allow creation of a WinPE bootable 'rescue disc' (which I also like to use to create the backup images in the first place) but according to its User Guide the trial version of Todo Backup Home does (though you need to download and install the appropriate version of the Windows Automated Installation Kit to do so). I've verified that the activated version of Todo Backup Home (a freebie I scooped up recently) can indeed create a bootable WinPE rescue disc for a 32-bit UEFI Win 8 laptop which cannot boot 'legacy' media, and have some reason to think that use of such a rescue disc is not tied to the machine on which it was created.
2. A newer entrant is AOMEI Backupper Standard (free, current version is 2.0) which purports to include both incremental and differential backup capabilities (again making frequent backups relatively painless but, again, I have yet to put it to the test) - apparently for both file- and disk/partition-based backups (I couldn't find a user guide for it and don't have it installed on the system I'm writing from). I did create a bootable 32-bit UEFI WinPE rescue disc for that same laptop and used it to create a whole-disk image, which somewhat alarmingly did not include one 128 MB partition on the disk which AOMEI thought was unformatted (may have been something like a hidden service partition of some kind, but I'll certainly get an image of it before considering that image complete). Still, the comments I've seen have been pretty positive - I just wish it had a bit more usage under its belt to instill confidence.
If you want a solution that 1) is free, 2) supports incremental backup for partitions/disks, and 3) allows creation of a bootable rescue disk with most facilities of the installed version these may be your only choices (though you might want to check out Paragon's free offerings since I haven't for a couple of years now). If you don't care about either (1) or (2) both Acronis and Macrium are very well-regarded (I've never used the latter but have used the Seagate DiscWizard limited version of the former almost exclusively for around a decade), though last I knew Acronis still couldn't create a 32-bit UEFI bootable rescue disc (not a problem for your 64-bit system, obviously). The need for a rescue disc (3) is not absolute as long as you can perform whatever recovery may be required on a second system to which you connect the disk to be restored, and since one would hope that such whole-disk recovery operations are extremely rare occurrences this may not be all that inconvenient in practice. If you don't care about (2) you might consider a bootable Linux-based solution like Clonezilla.
All the above concentrates on backup mechanisms that can reproduce a bootable system (what you seemed interested in) rather than file-oriented backups that include mostly data rather than executables. The latter may include forms of versioning (retaining older copies of data since changed), but incremental backups can provide some coverage in this area; for finer-grained versioning you can of course use a separate mechanism in parallel.
I'd normally recommend reading http://www.techsupportalert.com/best...g-software.htm but its content seems to be getting a bit dated now. http://www.techsupportalert.com/best...up-program.htm seems more current and was where I discovered AOMEI.
Just took a look at Paragon Backup & Recovery 2014 Free and it seems to be another option meeting all three criteria I listed above (though there's some suggestion that it may not be able to create a 32-bit UEFI rescue disc, which may have been why I didn't look more closely when trying to find something that would handle full-disk recovery for that laptop I mentioned where you need to remove the keyboard if you want to remove the disk to work on it externally, though now that I think about it most full-disk recovery scenarios might well require replacing the disk anyway so...).
EaseUS ToDo Free version is the one we've been using for several years on our laptops and PCs. It does a great job and it's very easy to use with its step-by-step wizard. We also use Windows built-in Create a System Image option as a first full backup, but it has the drawback of taking up a lot of space. EaseUS allows you to compress your System Image backups if you wish, thus saving quite a bit of space on the backup location.
Edit: I agree.
Originally Posted by bibouille
My backup solution is file-based and driven by the structure of my directories. I maintain file copies on three computers - one at work and two at home. All three have different Windows - XP, Vista, 8.1 Update 64-bit. I don't try to back up the current state of my programs.
My backup strategy is based on my comfort level, and not efficiency or program driven.
I do manual backup because it's easier to periodically review, discard, and restructure. In other words, I lose track of what I have and where, if I don't work it every so often. The work XP files and folders are fewer than the home files and folders, and the drive letter is D:. At home, Vista 32-bit and Win 8.1 Update 64-bit, my files currently reside on two drives of the same letter, but not D:.
My XP work files are 10 GB. My Vista files are about 28 GB, and my Win 8.1 Update files are about 24 GB.
My XP work files are backed up on SDHC or compact flash. My Vista and Win 8.1 Update files are backed up to individual external USB hard drives.
I work my directories and media to allow me to do delete and copy of sets of directories on the SDHC. With the my home computers and external drives, I have multiple copies of the computer's data drive on each external USB hard drive. Currently, the file sets on the Vista and Win 8.1 Update machine are not yet synched, and these same folders also contain operating specific applications, eg. 32-bit and 64-bit Perl. It's been a year, but I'm working on it....
In the past, I have set up backups on a single-app mini, and Win NT and 2000 servers, but my standalone strategy for personal use is based on different conditions -
a) keeping track of a diverse set of often unrelated content;
b) being able to see old stuff across more than one program; and
c) 3-5 year changes in storage media.
So basically, I stay close to the operating system, and use built-in facilities.
Edit: Personal computing and organizational computing do not share the same needs and resource sets.
Problem with Windows System image, as I recall from trying it a while ago, is that you cannot schedule regular backups, which are essential to a backup regime. Also when you backup a second time it writes over the existing backup, so you cannot have more than one image unless you use more than one disk.
Since there are so many free and low cost useful programs, why waste your time with System Image in Windows 8 even if it works?
I use a combination of Macrium Reflect (free version) and Genie Timeline Home (using 2012 version, 2014 is current version, $39.95).
Computer has a 120gb SSD drive C: for system and a 2tb drive D: for data. An external eSATA 4tb drive serves as the backup location. Macrium reflect is scheduled to run every night to make an image of the system disk. Genie Timeline runs in the background and every 30 minutes makes a backup of any data files that are changed. Genie backups are incremental and versioned. During normal work, the backups by Genie are not noticeable (it has a smart and turbo mode.) During heavy work (video editing, etc.) a quick click on the system tray icon pauses Genie Timeline (if I forget to unpause it, it is restarted on next boot). Genie Timeline manages the space available on the backup drive quite well. However, every now and then I must go in and remove old Macrium image files (I really should automate that with a Powershell script...)
I also store selected important data files on Microsofts OneDrive cloud storage.
This is what works for me. YMMV.
I use Allway Sync http://allwaysync.com/?a=1 to backup my data files on a daily basis (I run it manually). I use Acronis True Image 2014 for the odd disk image/clone so I can have a fully restorable system. Problem with ATI on Win 8.1 is that the UEFI won't let it reboot to the cloning program unless you change your UEFI settings to allow it, and not all PCs allow you to do this. I can do it ok on my ThinkPad Twist, but not on my Lenovo Yoga 2 13 for some reason. Guess I'll need a new Clone solution for the Yoga that plays well with UEFI. Does anyone have ideas for that?
Acronis for imaging allowing for dissimilar hardware restore.
Windows built in backup.
NTI Shadow for just file backup to USB and network drive - I like that it is native files so I can access my documents on another system without installing anything. I could do this with robocopy scripts but I like the ease of NTI Shadow and PST backup support.
I'd offer a strong vote for Macrium Reflect. I've used it exclusively for backup for about 6 or 7 years. I do use a paid 5 PC license, but as said above you can try the free version to see if you like it.
I run three separate types of backups with it:
1. Clean build full images for emergency restores. I've had opportunity to restore these types of images on my HTPC (lots of playing around) from bootable thumb drive setups and have never had any problems.
2. Scheduled full image backups with daily incrementals on all our systems to a NAS. These run completely automatically and I've never had any problems.
3. Scheduled file backups of targeted directories on our NAS that have no copies elsewhere to a local external USB drive for safe keeping.
A major thing I like is that the interface and setup for all of these is consistent across all the types of backups and operating systems (PC's are Win 7 64b and Win 8.1 Update 64b. I don't have to worry about learning the latest nuance to ensure that the backups run reliably.
Another nice feature is that you can mount any backup set as a local map drive and copy a past file to the local machine. So for example if I clobbered a file a couple of weeks ago I can mount an incremental image prior to the accident and get the file back as of that date. This all works in Windows Explorer and is quite convenient.
Macrium's support is also very good. You can visit their forum.
There are lots of backup solutions available. I think the trick is to find one which you understand how it works, get it running reliably and leave it alone.
Storagecraft ShadowProtect Desktop. Set up to do a complete image of system and data once a week with hourly incrementals. Weekly backup (wee hours of Sunday morning) takes <40 minutes (210+ GB to a USB 3.0 external hard disk), hourly incrementals take less than one minute. I keep 4 generations of backups on the external HDD. Apart from switching out the external HDD once every month, all is done with no intervention on my part.
With this setup, I can restore everything and anything from the complete system down to an individual file.
ShadowProtect is a heavy duty application and is not cheap. I probably use only a fraction of its capabilities. Thankfully, there are numerous wizards available to help you through the setup.
I recently switched to Spideroak because I like their "zero-knowledge" privacy technology. Before that, I used iDrive for several years. I'd have to reinstall the software every now and then, but they got my family flawlessly through several disk drive failures and virus attacks.
I use the Windows automated backup along with an automated backup by Acronis True Image Home 2014 - both backup to my Western Digital Cloud device on my LAN
I also use SyncBackSE (the pay-for version) and a Task Scheduler copy task to save things at my wife's office (to external USB drives).
I used to use an FTP server to backup the stuff from the wife's office - but that attracted to many unknowns trying to get into my systems, so I stopped that.