13 Free Backup Programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Making sure you’ve got a reliable backup solution is a must for any user – and more so for an administrator. Why? Well, mostly because your users probably aren’t very good at remembering to back up their own files. And so it falls to you to provide the right software for the job!

Backup software is a difficult category to tackle nowadays as the distinction between backup and synchronization apps has become a little blurred. Prices being what they are, my personal choice is to use external or removable hard drives for my backup chores – my current favorites are Bonkey and Cobian.

To make sure you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, I’ve split this list into three different categories so that you can choose from the options that are best suited to your environment.

Integrated Burning

Comodo Backup [win]
They do make than a great firewall. Comodo Backup is an excellent free solution. It has extremely flexible scheduling and notification options, supports FTP destinations, can burn multisession DVDs, and has a synchronization mode for quick realtime backups.

DFIncBackup [win]
As is the case with most backup applications, there’s a free and paid version. The free one still handles CD/DVD backups, and it also does incremental .zip jobs as well – only backing up files that have changed or weren’t present in your previous job.

SE Backup [win]
Sports a very simple interface, does CD and DVD burning and compression, and is available as a portable application. Scheduling isn’t built in, but it supports command line launching with parameters which works very well with Windows’ own Task Scheduler.

File Copy

Though it’s no longer developed, Abakt is still a great choice. It’s got a great file filtering system, supports 7zip and zip compression, file splitting, password protection, and does differential and incremental backups.

Areca [win]
Free, open source, and wicked powerful. Areca is loaded with features: compression, encryption, simulation, merging, transaction commit/rollback, filtering, and more. It’s command line interface provides excellent automation options and Areca also supports scripting of post-job actions.

[win] [mac]
The “Backup Monkey.” If I was giving points for best mascot, this one would be a clear winner.

Bonkey runs on both Windows and Mac, and has a lot of great features. It supports email, FTP, and Amazon S3, compression, encryption, scheduling, and synchronization. It’ll even back up MS SQL server databases.

Cobian Backup [win]
Apart from being a great application, Cobian’s developer has an excellent tutorial online to help you get started. Though it is no longer open source, you may still download the last version that was (v8). There’s also a portable version.

One of my favorite features of Cobian is its ability to handle pre- and post- job events. I use it to issue net stop and net start commands to ensure safe backups of our horrible, horrible point-of-sale system. Cobian also has the ability to control and monitor all its instances on your network from your own workstation.

JaBack [win] [mac]
Allows backup to FTP and email (as well as any drive on your computer or network), and sports a flexible scheduler. It also has a file monitor function that will perform backup operations whenever changes are detected.

Mathusalem [mac]
Offers FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDav, and SMB support for backups on OSX. Mathusalem can compress to zip and dmg, will resume failed uploads, and supports scheduling and command line launching. It’s also open source.


Bacula [win] [mac] [linux]
Bacula is an enterprise grade network backup solution that runs on just about every platform imagineable. It’s a much more complex system than the other options I’ve mentioned, but is extremely powerful and well-suited to a medium or large scale network.

BackupPC [win] [linux]
A Linux-based, client-free enterprise solution for backing up Windows and Linux machines. BackupPC uses SMB, tar, and rsync to extract backup data from client computers. It ‘s got a powerful web-based interface for administrators and users, and will even email reminders to users that have been remiss in performing backups.

It’s a very flexible solution, and is open source.

NasBackup [win] [linux]
Uses a simple Windows GUI and rsync to perform backups from client machines to a central server. It’ll do incremental backups, scheduling, compression, encryption, and the server offers useful per-client controls like limiting the number of versions to store and expiration dates. It also provides daily summaries via email.

Restore [win] [mac] [linux]
The self-proclaimed “reason backup was invented.” It’s definitely a great product, and full of terrific features. Its web interface is very easy to understand and use – and makes it easy for the mobile admin to monitor and control Restore from anywhere.

Restore supports FTP, WebDav, SSH/SFTP, and multiple revisions. It also provides powerful admin tools, making it easy to create and control users, groups, jobs, and scheduling.

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