From viruses to hard drive crashes, there are constant, daily threats to your data.  One of the most important things any computer user can do is back up their data.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think about backups until after files are gone forever.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of great free backup software on the market.  No longer are you limited to copying/pasting files through Windows Explorer.  All these programs are automatic, easy to use, and best of all – free.

I reviewed 13 of the most popular free backup programs.  These are my top 5 recommendations:

#1 – EaseUS Todo Backup Free

EaseUS Todo Free main screenEaseUS Todo Backup backs up your entire computer by creating a disk image – an exact copy of your hard drive.  You specify which hard drive you want to back up, and it does the rest.

All the backups are incremental, which means only changed files are backed up.  This saves valuable space and allows you to store even more backups.  It supports scheduling, compression, and email notifications.

It can also back up specific files and folders.  Instead of choosing a system backup, just choose a data backup.  That way, only the files you choose will be backed up.

To restore files, you can do it through the desktop program, or through a bootable recovery disk.  A bootable recovery disk is used if you can’t boot into Windows (as is common with hard drive failures).  EaseUS Todo will let you create this recovery disk within the program using a blank CD, DVD, or USB thumb drive.

It’s free for personal, non-commercial use.

Get EaseUS Todo Backup Free or Read the Full Review

#2 – AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper main screenI first reviewed AOMEI Backupper earlier this year, and recent upgrades to the software have made it one of my most recommended programs.

It’s an easy to use, full system backup utility.  It’s clear, no-nonsense approach makes backups a breeze.

It supports incremental backups, backing up to USB hard drives, compression, and encryption.

Want to use Backupper for your business?  It’s also free for commercial use.

Get AOMEI Backupper or Read the Full Review

#3 – Genie Timeline Free

Genie Timeline Free main screenIf you’ve ever used Time Machine for Mac, you’ll have a good idea of what Genie Timeline is like.  The free edition takes automatic backups of your files every 8 hours, and puts it on an external USB or network drive.

You can select common areas of your computer to back up, such as Email, My Documents, Pictures, and Office files.  Otherwise, you can manually select which files and folders you want to back up.

If you ever need to restore your files, you can use the built-in restore process.  Genie Timeline lets you select any point in time to restore data from.  You can also pick and choose which files you’d like to restore.

Get Genie Timeline Free or Read the Full Review

#4 – FileFort

FileFort main screenFileFort is a free, lightweight backup program.  It can incrementally backup your files and folders.  It supports backup destinations such as FTP, CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.  It can even backup to online storage services like Amazon S3 or Google Docs.

When creating a backup job, you can choose common presets such as My Documents, Emails, and Pictures.  You can also include and exclude certain file types.

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#5 – SyncBackFree

SyncBackFree restore processSyncBackFree is a file backup and synchronization program.  It copies your files from one place to the other.  It does this with profiles, which are jobs for the software to run.

It supports both an Easy and Expert mode.  The Easy mode is great for new users just learning the program, while the Expert mode unlocks more advanced settings.  SyncBackFree supports scheduling, ZIP compression, encryption, logging, and many other features.

It does not support file versioning, which allows you to recover multiple versions of a single file.  Instead, I recommend creating separate profiles for daily, weekly, and monthly backups (customized to your liking) as shown in the screenshot.  This allows you to recover data from many different points in time.

Get SyncBackFree or Read the Full Review