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  1. #1
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    Looking for a trustworthy (and, preferably, free) backup app

    Once upon a time I did all my windows backing up with Cobian. Now it's no longer supported and the last version was buggy (for me, anyway). I am looking for a backup solution that will be as much like this as possible:

    • Allow backups from some folders, not necessarily the whole disk. in the event of a catastrophe, I'd rather format, reinstall and restore data to a clean disk.
    • Allow differential backups. Full backups every time will just smother my HDDs
    • Have date-stamped folders for each backup session. Too many apps I've looked at make only a single backup tree and overwrite the files at every session. I might need to see an old now-deleted file.
    • Backup to a NAS running Linux (as they all seem to)
    • Leave files uncompressed or encrypted.
    • Be Open Source or free
    • Run from the PC, not 'pull' from the NAS.


    Any suggestions? I see most folk here use Macrium which seems not to allow partial backups and a few other of the above list.

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  3. #2
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  4. #3
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    Thanks for the link Paul. I passed that one because of the 'image' - which I don't want - in the title. It is an interesting read, but I notice that differentials seem to be a default non-free item, as are date/time-stamped backup folders.

    I imagine that I could cobble a batch file together to rename the (single-named) session folder to incorporate a date-stamp. Quite which generations of the file to rename and how it would affect the behaviour of the app, I'll have to find out. I'm out of touch with Windows CLI these days.

    My excuse for wanting 'free' is that I had such bad experiences with Backup Exec in my last job that I really don't want to pay for a proprietary prog. Rather donate to an OS one that I find is good. Cobian got my money while it was alive.

    Still looking. Looked at NASbackup, which looks good but very scary, requiring rsync and perl for Windows, and a possible time-sink with uncertain - for ageing geeks - outcomes. Anyone here use it?

  5. #4
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    Paragon has differential backups in the free version and Easus has incremental. As I said in my post "paying for what you want makes sense" and I have done that for my backup solution. I reckon you need both file and image backup. You do a file backup daily and an image every few months, then you can recover to a new hard disk / PC when it goes really pear shaped. Why don't you try one of the free ones and if you like it buy the version that has "restore to bare metal" capabilities.

    I agree that Backup Exec leaves a lot to be desired - I've used it in small to enterprise environments.

    cheers, Paul

  6. #5
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    I use Windows home server 2011. It is a great backup for up to 10 networked computers. It is cheap ($59 at newegg). You can do a complete restore, or open an backup to just get some files. Just need hardware.

  7. #6
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    How do you restore a machine with a failed hard disk or motherboard - does it restore to bare metal?

    cheers, Paul

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    cmptrgy (2014-02-15)

  9. #7
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    You boot from an USB drive it finds the server, and restores.

    The only problem I have every had is on newer hardware, sometimes the boot usb does not have the drivers, but you do have the ability to manually add the drivers needed.

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to keith1964 For This Useful Post:

    cmptrgy (2014-02-15)

  11. #8
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    Also you can select the date of backup to restore. It does a daily backup, and you can keep as many as the HD will hold. The really nice thing about it, is it does not store every file for every backup. It learns what files are already there and does not duplicate to reduce storage demands. On my newest server I can restore any daily backup from last night to eight months ago, when I put it into service.

  12. #9
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    It's doing an incremental backup where you only backup files that have changed. Then it's easy to restore any date between the first and last backup.

    cheers, Paul

  13. #10
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    Thank you for your help, folks. I have finally gone for Genie Timeline and it seems to be running well. When I stop procrastinating, I will mirror it to their 'Zoolz Home' service (zoolz.com) which, at £1.40 p/mth for all-you-can-eat, can't be bad. Timeline - a Mac 'Time Machine'-alike is rsync-inspired so it can do continuous backing up - by default allows multiple versions of files to exist but without the resource drain that that seems to imply.

    Home Server was not an option as it implies a Windows server device and my NAS box is just too small for it. Anyway, the laptop is the last Windows machine in the house.
    Last edited by HappyChris; 2014-01-09 at 13:15. Reason: spelling :(

  14. #11
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    Hi Guys, thanks very much for your suggestions, which I've found useful too. One question: I've noticed that Windows 8 File History can't cope with long file paths and has been giving errors if I have too many nested folders. Does Genie Timeline cope OK with that? (Or Comodo Backup - though this was recommended in another post?)

  15. #12
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    I use Memeo for continual differential backups and Seagate Disk Wizard for once-a-month image backups.

    With Memeo, you specify which folders you want backed up. It does an initial backup, and then it continually backs up anything that changes in those folders. And you can keep up to five previous versions, although five will consume a lot of disk space. (I keep two.) Best of all, the Memeo archive is in standard Windows file format. You can copy items from the archive using Windows File Explorer -- no special software needed.

    I believe the paid version of Seagate Disk Wizard, Acronis True Image (?), include the continuous differential backup; but I can't comment on it, because I've never used it.

  16. #13
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    God, I can hate W Explorer! It has, I was told, a 256-character maximum PATH length, so when your/my wife's deeply nested files are copied, etc. Explorer chokes and stops with no good clue how far it has gone before dying. As a result I have spent hours shortening her - very sensible - folder names to accommodate this curse.

    I feel it would not be impossible to do the whole file copying thing using the old 8.3 DOS names to shrink filenames. Maybe some progs do. Sounds like Windows 8 isn't one of them.

  17. #14
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    Use Robocopy to copy long file names. No stupid 256 character limit there.

    cheers, Paul

  18. #15
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    Paul T
    How do you restore a machine with a failed hard disk or motherboard - does it restore to bare metal
    --- What does bare metal mean?

    Keith1964
    You boot from an USB drive it finds the server, and restores.
    The only problem I have every had is on newer hardware, sometimes the boot usb does not have the drivers, but you do have the ability to manually add the drivers needed
    --- This sounds like when a new hard drive is installed, the boot usb drivers will be needed. How do you get those drivers? And how do you install the drivers if the computer isn’t booting into Windows yet?

    The reason I’m asking is because my cousin wants to replace his 40GB hard drive with a 500GB hard drive on his laptop which had XP Pro but he upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate. He’s hoping I can help him but I don’t have that kind of experience but I’m always willing to learn

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