Free Hard Disk Backup and Restore Software

Hard disk backup is the cheapest data recovery service. This fact is well known to IT experts and administrators, but ordinary computer users usually don’t care until it is too late. The importance of backups is properly understood only after some major failure and data loss. Computer systems are reliable but still can and do fail. Most hardware components including hard drives are easily replaceable. Unfortunately, this is not true for the data that is stored on the drive. We can purchase components from our favorite online computer shop, but for the data we have to make our own “supply”. This alternative source of our data is the backup of data on our hard drive. Having a data backup is much better than counting on reliable drives or data recovery.

Hard disk backup is a copy of the data that is not stored on the same computer where the original data is used. The philosophy behind backup is very simple. The probability that two independent components will fail at the same time is very low. For example, if have a desktop computer which we use daily and we regularly make backups to DVDs, it is very unlikely that the latest backup DVD will be unreadable when the hard drive will crash and we would like to restore the data from the backup DVD. And even if this happens there is still a possibility to use previous backup for restoration. We may lose some data but this is still better than losing everything. Therefore, regular backups are cheap and effective data recovery source.

To create backups you don’t have to invest into expensive hardware and software. A simple but effective backup system for home computer users can be created with existing CD/DVD recorder and free hard disk backup software. Another possibility is a backup to the external hard drive. This drive is attached to the computer only during backup and then it is stored in a safe place. Maybe more important than the hardware or software used for backups is when and how do you back up the data. The aim of backup is to have an alternative source of our data from which any file can be restored as quickly as possible. Another requirement is that the process of creating backups is quick, and if possible automated. Additional very important aspect of backups is the location where they are stored. It is not a good idea to have them near the computer. In the case of fire, flood, or theft you will lose the computer and all the backups. Backups should be stored away from the computer. This can be a different room or another house. Storing backups at two or even more locations provides additional protection. But there is one minor disadvantage. You should protect the backups from unauthorized usage. This can be done with encryption and passwords or with physical locks. Yet another possibility is  online backup. You save files to a remote location. But this service is not free unless you have your own remote computer.

Elegant and quick solutions for typical computer systems provide incremental backups. The first time you create a complete backup of all the files and with next backups you only save files that were modified since the last backup. This way you can quickly create a daily backup and still there is a complete copy of all the files which would be needed for data recovery. A good practice would be to create incremental daily backups and complete backups every month or week, depending on the quantity of data created or changed. Additional good practice is to create yearly or monthly archives where you store the data that is rarely used. Having archives and regular backups will prevent paying for data recovery in the case of hard disk drive failure.

Hard disk backup and restore software differs from disk/partition image software at least in one point. The disk image file is a compact collection of all the files on a disk. This file represents the image of the disk and can be used to recover the disk in a previous state. Disk images do not deal with individual files. However, some tools include also functions to extract files or folders from a disk image. When the hard drive fails you can buy a new one and restore previously created disk image. Hard disk backup usually refers to copies of individual files. After replacing a hard drive you will not be able to restore all files—you will still need to install operating system. Typical hard disk backup/restore software offers flexibility and automation. Many tools offer scheduled backups, compression, encryption, email reports, FTP upload, various types of backups (complete, incremental, partial, differential), file filters, and much more.

Free Backup and Restore Software

Areca Backup

Areca Backup is a complete solution for backup on Windows and Linux systems. It provides graphical user interface and supports compression (zip and zip64), encryption (AES128 and AES256), backup storage on different locations (local disk, network disk, external USB disk, FTP server), complex file filters, different types of backup (complete, incremental, differential), merging or archives, backup reports, backup simulation and backup scripts. Areca Backup is open source software and has also a command line interface to automate some tasks.


Bacula is a collection of open source programs for backup and recovery. It is enterprise ready client/server modular and scalable solution for backup management. Bacula - The Open Source Network Backup Solution is available for Windows (32 and 64 bit), MAC OS, Linux and other UNIX systems like Free BSD.


This is a Linux and Windows high-performance, enterprise-grade system for backing up computers to a server. It is perfect for backing up laptops or desktop computers. It needs no client software as BackupPC uses SMB protocol to access files on computers and supports also compression. Open source with GPL license, web interface and flexible configuration makes it an attractive backup solution.

Amanda Community Edition

This is another open source solution for backup and recovery for Linux, Unix, Mac OS and Windows platforms. It supports a wide variety of backup devices, up to 4096-bit encryption, and scheduler. The authors claim that Amanda is the most popular open source backup/recovery software.

Cobian Backup

Cobian Backup is multi-threaded software for scheduled backups. It works under Windows and supports FTP, compression and encryption. It can run in the background and uses very few system resources.

Freebyte Backup

This is freeware Windows backup software. It supports file filters, scheduled and incremental backup, detailed reports and profiles with different settings.

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