Anyone who uses their PC frequently would do well to back it up regularly. This way you are assured that data will not be lost if your PC lets you down. There are many tools for backing up in Windows 10. We have listed twelve of them for you.
Do you want to learn more about making a backup? Check out our Course: Backup and Restore (book & online course)
Making backups remains very important. Now that we're all moving to Windows 10, there's still a lot that can go wrong. Plus, if you ever want to go back to an earlier version of Windows, that's how it's done when you restore a disk image from a while ago. Also read: How to create a recovery drive in Windows 10.
A downgrade from must be done within thirty after the installation (and even then does not always work correctly), a disk image, on the other hand, is there for a much longer period of time. There are many different tools to create such a disk image. We take a closer look at twelve well-known and lesser-known tools, in which we will discuss both free and paid tools.
Acronis True Image
The first recovery tool we take a closer look at is the one from Acronis. Acronis offers a comprehensive backup suite with many features. To create a disk image, it is necessary to select exactly what to back up on the main screen. For this you can choose from individual disks and/or partitions or the entire PC. You also need to select the target location. Backups can be encrypted using AES encryption (AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard and is a well-known computer encryption technique). You can also configure a few things, such as performing the backup on schedule or receiving a notification when the disk space of the target location becomes full, for example via e-mail. Acronis True Image is one of the few suites to support backup to its own cloud.
The recovery works smoothly and has a clear interface. Make sure you use the WinPE recovery disk (Windows Preinstallation Environment). It works a lot better than the Linux-based recovery environment, which was unable to restore our backups properly.
Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition
Paragon offers a free variant of its backup tool, which is one version behind the paid version. The free version does not support file backups and also lacks the option to back up to an (s)ftp server. Unfortunately, the free version cannot make scheduled backups, a feature we consider essential. Other advanced features, such as partitioning and disk cloning, are also not available. Paragon's interface has two modes, simple and advanced. Too bad (although somewhat understandable) that the main screen of easy mode shows an ad to upgrade to the full, paid version.
However, the backup wizard is not very user-friendly regardless of mode and does not indicate what they are for small partitions. Handy is the function to choose the format to which the backup should be written, where you can choose from Paragon's own format and a VMware, Hyper-V or Virtual PC image. So you can easily create a virtual machine from your backup. It is also possible to encrypt the backup using AES or Paragon's own method. We only managed to create recovery media in a roundabout way, because the process itself failed with the unclear message 'error 53'. In order to get the recovery started, we eventually had to create an ISO file and put it on a USB stick ourselves using the Rufus utility. After that, the recovery was successful.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager
The Hard Disk Manager is a more powerful version than the Backup & Recovery version. It adds the function to safely empty SSDs, as well as support for Windows 10 and enhanced recovery media. When making a backup, you now have the choice of a backup mode, so you can back up a number of volumes, the operating system, the email in Outlook or Windows Mail and individual folders and files. That's quite a few choices. If you choose the operating system option, for example, you then only have to choose where the backup is stored. That is a lot more user-friendly than in the Free edition, where you have to choose the right partitions yourself. This time, however, the recovery media creation is flawless.
O&O DiskImage 10 Professional
O&O DiskImage is a simple and user-friendly program. By default, the installation does not include the option to mount disk images as a virtual disk in Windows. It's a shame that you have to select that option yourself during the installation, something that few will do. Convenient is the option to make a one-click backup, which includes all partitions and disks at once. You then indicate where the backup should be and R&D does the rest. Scheduled backup is also quick to set up, with the handy option to start a backup as soon as a device is mounted, such as an external hard drive.
O&O can convert images to a VHD file so that you can use it as a virtual machine in Hyper-V. O&O uses Windows installation media (if you have one) or WinPE to create recovery media. O&O DiskImage therefore does not provide its own recovery environment based on Linux, for example, but that is not a bad thing, because WinPE is our preference anyway. The recovery process works fine and the recovery mode is easy to use, with the exact same interface as the full program.
EaseUS Todo Backup Free
EaseUS offers a free backup solution in the form of Todo Backup Free. The free variant is quite powerful, with the ability to image entire partitions and disks, as we are used to. In addition, there is a whole range of possibilities such as backing up individual files, making a 'Smart Backup' (for the most important personal files) and backing up only the operating system itself. You can mount backups by browsing to the location in Windows Explorer and then double clicking on them. For a free tool, we don't think EaseUS is bad at all.
Handy is the option to add an option for Todo Backup to the Windows boot menu, so you don't have to keep recovery media. Unlike Acronis, this boot manager with Todo Backup works well. Unfortunately, the recovery is not going well. The Linux environment of EaseUS does not recognize our external hard drive and so recovery from that environment is not possible. Fortunately, the WinPE environment works a lot better and restores our PC without any problems.
EaseUS Todo Backup 9.0 Home
The Home edition of EaseUS Todo Backup adds some extra features to the free version, some quite basic. For example, it is only possible from the Home edition to exclude files from the backup. Also, some other, somewhat more advanced features are now available. For example, think of encryption and compression, but also e-mail notifications and copying the backup to an FTP server. In addition, the Home version can back up email messages in Outlook.
Like O&D, EaseUS has the option to start a task when mounting a disk. When backing up files and mail, EaseUS can store these backups in the clouds of Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. The Home version should restore and backup faster than the free version. But we don't notice that much: the Home version was even a fraction slower in the test than the free edition. Incidentally, for the recovery, the Linux version has the same problem as the free version and does not recognize any of our drives.
Macrium Reflect Free
Macrium Reflect is a free disk image tool. However, the number of functions is only slightly inferior to the competition. Reflect supports GPT/UEFI, can perform differential backups, and includes a WinPE recovery environment. The installation procedure consists of three separate installation wizards. After launching, you will be prompted to create bootable media, a good and important first step. It is useful that Macrium does a quick driver check, so that you know whether, for example, your network controller and disks are recognized when you want to start the recovery. We find the interface of Macrium complicated. The buttons at the top are unlabeled and a lot of information is shown in the main screen. From Macrium it is possible to mount an image in Windows Explorer to browse and extract files from it. Creating a disk image is done in no time. The repair also runs smoothly and is one of the fastest recovery actions.
Macrium Reflect Home
The Home version of Macrium Reflect adds a number of features to the free version, most notably the option to back up individual files and folders, support for encryption with AES, and incremental backups to save space. The option in Macrium to add a boot option to Windows is useful, but unfortunately there are complaints that it does not always work properly. In terms of recovery media and time, all is well with Macrium and we measure the same performance as with the free variant.
DriveImage XML 2.6
DriveImage XML is free for private use and has very low system requirements. This is also reflected in the download size, where the entire program is less than 2 MB in size. DriveImage XML has only the basic functions: creating images, copying and restoring disks, and browsing images. Browsing through is done by mounting a backup in the program itself. It is not possible to backup hidden partitions and that is not ideal. Restoring the entire drive may result in an unworkable system because no boot partition has been created.
In addition, hidden Windows partitions are also not included in the backup. In addition, the program itself cannot create recovery media. The makers offer another separate download for this on the website, in the form of a Linux live CD based on Knoppix. It contains the entire suite of the manufacturer, in addition to DriveImage XML also RAID Recovery, DiskExplorer and tools to recover your data. The Runtime software is run in Linux by means of Wine. In addition to the Knoppix live CD, plug-ins for BartPE are also offered. The backup took no less than 55 minutes for only 30 GB of data. We fear what will happen with more data. The restore does not support GPT/UEFI and we were therefore unable to perform it.
[email protected] Disk Image
[email protected] Disk Image comes in three variants: a lite, standard and professional edition. The first variant is free, the other two are paid. We test the professional version, where we can create recovery media and perform backups on schedule. Both are also present in the standard version. Features only present in the Pro version include email notifications, incremental backups, and support for Windows Server. On the main screen, all functions of the program are neatly presented.
There is a link to Windows Disk Management for partition management, rather than its own solution. In our test, we didn't get the option to mount an image. Creating a backup is pretty straightforward with a good overview of all partitions and drives on the system. Compared to other suites, however, the price for [email protected] is high and the major drawback is that after recovery our test PC no longer wanted to start up. A backup is useless if you cannot restore it successfully.
The first time R-Drive Image starts, a wizard will appear where you can perform a number of actions. The standard actions are available here: such as creating an image, recovery media and copying a disc. When choosing a disk image, the next step will prompt you to select the partitions to include. You are left to your own devices. After selecting the target, a number of options can be set, such as sector-by-sector backup and the amount of compression, which is common with other tools.
In addition, a password can be set. Interestingly, it is possible to choose how many CPUs R-Drive can use. A time indication also appears in advance of how long the operation will take, which is very accurate. It is also possible to attach an image so that the individual files can be extracted. Furthermore, R-Drive does not offer much special and in our opinion it is far too expensive for the functions offered.
Backup and Restore (Windows 7)
Windows 10 has brought back the feature originally introduced in Windows 7, largely removed in Windows 8.1, and now reinstated under the name Backup and Restore (Windows 7), found in the Control Panel. Unfortunately, Microsoft seems to have done little about it. If it works, it's very useful because you can start the recovery from the Windows installation and boot menu. Unfortunately, that's a big 'if', because in our tests it often didn't work: backups that don't complete and can't be restored. However, all the basic options are there, namely running a backup on schedule and making file backups. Mounting an image from Windows backup is possible through Disk Management, as it is ultimately just a VHD file. As a result, you can also use it in, for example, Hyper-V as a virtual machine. Unfortunately it was impossible to restore the system, we only got a vague error message.
We backed up our test system with all tools. We also tried to restore all backups made (we repeat: a backup is not a backup until it has been successfully tested), but unfortunately we ran into problems from time to time.
Our test system has one Windows installation that uses EFI/GPT. We included the EFI partition in the recovery. The system contains 30 GB of data during the backup. Important components of a disk image tool include: whether it has support for incremental backups (where only files changed since the previous backup are included) and differential backups (where only files changed since the previous full backup are saved). included), whether it can back up on schedule and whether the image can also be mounted as a virtual disk, for example, so that you can quickly extract a file or folder. Other tricks are the use as a virtual machine, encryption, of course the performance, the smoothness of the recovery and the supported file systems.
There is a lot to choose from when it comes to disk image software. The most user-friendly solutions are those from Acronis, Paragon and EaseUS. Paragon's interface has a simple and advanced mode and with preconfigured backups, the program can be used by everyone. Acronis is also very simple for beginners and if you want to configure a bit more it offers options for that too. In addition, you can store files in the cloud and the program has good performance. In the end, we still give Paragon the Best Tested seal, simply because of the extra powerful features for partitions, support for virtual machines and the good recovery media. As an editor's tip, we point to EaseUS Todo Backup Home, which is moderately priced and yet with slightly more features than the free version. When it comes to free solutions, there's a lot of good too. With Macrium and EaseUS you are in the right place anyway, although we find EaseUS easier to use. As far as we're concerned, Windows Backup is better avoided: Microsoft no longer actively develops it and the program is very error-prone.
Are you looking for a program that you can install on multiple systems from the license? Then choose free software, because you can install it on as many systems as you want. Of the programs in this test, all paid programs may only be installed on one system under license technically. With the exception of [email protected] Disk Image, which you can install on 3 PCs by default. Multi-PC licenses exist for some other paid versions, so check the manufacturers' websites carefully.