My Windows system backup tool choice – Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Version

System backup tools I’ve used

Acronis True Image Home 2009

Back in 2009, I bought Acronis True Image Home, and at that time I used it to backup my system drive (C:\), so that if in case my Windows crashes and can’t start up, I can qukckly restore my Windows system, and most importantly, as well as the installed programs and their settings.

Acronis’ tool is very user friendly and easy to use, and it has worked quite well in terms of the backup and restore functions, except that it always try to run at least two background services on my computer, and IIRC:

  • One is  for mounting backup archives as virtual drives so that you can view the files in it, this I don’t need but I couldn’t figure out how to disable it permanently, I disabled with AutoRuns, but once I use Acronis again it’ll re-enable it, it’s a pain.
  • Another backup service is for the scheduled backups (even if I hasn’t any scheduled backup jobs, and this made me think that, Gmail Keeper should utilize Window’s built-in scheduler for regular Gmail backups).

That has slowed down my computer quite a little, and I’m a guy who has a greedy requirement for a high performance work PC. So I have given it up, and haven’t used such a backup tool since then, until I have upgraded to Windows 7 and I realized again I should be able to restore quickly my system if a crash happens, to save my time from a lot of tedious re-installations and re-setups.

Windows 7’s build-in System Image Backup Tool.

Windows seven is shipped with a system drive backup tool which is quite good (does the work, and easy to use), except that:

  • If your hard disk fails to start Windows, to recover your system you’ll have to either use your original Windows setup disc, or a system rescue disc, and this process is not very user friendly.  This is OK to me, but,
  • It has a fatal design problem – you can’t have multiple backup images on a portable hard disk, every time you make a new backup it’ll first destroy the old backup.

My New Windows System Image Backup Software

So I had to find an alternative (a lightweight one, of course). In searching for a lightweight system backup tool, after reading quite much reviews, I decided to give Paragon Backup & Recovery 2011 (Advanced) Free a try.

And cheerfully after doing two system backups to both my portable HDD and DVD-R, and tried restoring to a Virtualbox VM, the result turned out to be great because:

  • Most importantly, it starts up only when I need to do a manual backup and it doesn’t run any backup programs or services that will slow down my system.
  • It can burn a bootable DVD witch include this backup software itself.
  • It’s free! Wow!

However, upon my limited test, although it’s OK to me as a software developer I found it’s not very easy to use.  For example, when simulating a system restore using a DVD it burned for me, in the restore process I had to insert the DVD’s back and forth:

  1. Insert backup DVD 1, so that it could select an archive file in the DVD;
  2. Then insert the last backup DVD (disc 2 in my case) so that I could do some verification;
  3. Then insert backup DVD 1 again, so that I could start the recovery;
  4. Finally, insert the backup DVD 2 again.

But the messages shown in the popup dialog windows wasn’t clear at all, and before I figured it out I had to tried several times. This might turn none tech-savvy users away.

And this is only my personal POV for a system backup software

This is not a complete review of these three backup software, but it might be of helpful info for you if you are looking for a lightweight Windows system image backup tool that doesn’t affect your productivity because you don’t have to add background program to  your computer that’s already quite busy.

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  1. Sputnik says:

    You said :
    One is for mounting backup archives as virtual drives so that you can view the files in it, this I don’t need but I couldn’t figure out how to disable it permanently, I disabled with AutoRuns, but once I use Acronis again it’ll re-enable it, it’s a pain.

    I know its possible to block a process from working with Anvir Task Manager Pro.

    On dotTech you may find all the information to get the Standard version of it for free (regularly 39.95$) :

    I dont know if you can also block a process with this one, but its worth trying it.

  2. Raul says:

    So it’s true what I was thinking actually exist! Well this is exactly what I was looking for.
    I suppose there is more light weight backup software around that doesn’t need to constantly run something on background, but after a week searching, this review is the only one I have found talking about this.

    I would really appreciate any update on your experience with Paragon or any other program you could have found a better back up option, but in any case BIG thank you, at least now I have found one good option.

  3. Dimitri says:

    Today I am switching AWAY from Paragon. The first time I ever needed to restore, it failed me. I wanted to restore the Windows directory, but it kept saying “access denied” for each file it tried to restore because, duh, they are in use. No worries, I thought – I’ll simply boot from the recovery CD. Guess what? You can’t restore individual files from the recovery CD – only entire partitions! And the manual which says you can use the File Transfer Wizard on the CD to open a PBF file is WRONG. You get what you pay for. Useless.

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