In our experience free backup tools often have annoying restrictions, especially when they come from commercial companies who really want you to upgrade. Paragon Backup and Recovery 2013 Free is an exception, though: the program comes packed with functions and features, more than enough to satisfy the demands of many PC users.
After choosing the drive you'd like to back up, and the archive destination (which can be a local or network drive, CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs), for instance, there are all kinds of options on offer. So you can choose to exclude particular file types from the backup in a click or two; set your archive compression level; password-protect your backup for security; set up CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray disc burning options, and more.
A comprehensive scheduler means your backup job can be automatically run at system startup, logon, daily, weekly or monthly.
Switch to the Advanced Mode and you'll find even more options, including the ability to create differential backups of your drive, as well as a useful set of partitioning tools (there's everything you need to create, format, move, resize, hide, unhide, delete and otherwise organise your partitions).
None of this gets in your way, though - in fact you don't even get to see most of these options unless you go looking. If you're happy with the default settings then a helpful wizard will walk you through the process of setting up a backup job with the absolute minimum of hassle.
And restoration is just as straightforward. It's easy to restore anything from a single file within your backup to an entire image, and the program's Recovery Builder helps you build a bootable recovery disc so you'll be able to restore your backups even if your PC is corrupted and won't boot. Note you'll need to download this separately after registering the product - log into your Paragon account and choose My Downloads to access this.
The latest 2014 edition adds full support for Windows 8.1, Storage Spaces and UEFI. It also introduces a New Backup Format tab, allowing users more flexibility with backing up by using a new pVHD (Paragon Virtual Hard Drive) format. There’s also a refreshed UI and updated recovery media builder added, allowing users to create a Linux-based recovery disc.