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Preliminary note: This question is born out of a frustration with the error handling of all backup tools I have used until now on Windows.

Note: I have found these resources on the net with tests of backup software, but these tests do not help me with my requirements: http://www.backup-software-reviews.com/ , http://disk-imaging-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_backup_software

I'm currently trying to find a good backup software for Windows 7, that is "safe" for non technical users and is still easy to use at home or very-small office locations. Plus it should work (see below).

The software need not be free, but it should have a trial so that I can verify that it actually works.

Dummy safe does not mean:

  • Easy to configure. That'll be done by an experienced person -- me ;-)

Dummy user safe means:

  1. The backup runs in the background and back ups all data. Be that as a disk image or as individual files.

  2. It works while the user is normally using the PC. Having open 7 Outlook windows and all his "important" office douments. If an individual file cannot be read for backup, it tries again later - there's no point in failing the whole backup just because some file could not be read because the user had it open in an application and it was locked.

  3. If something really goes wrong, for example the network drive it likes to backup to goes offline, then it will alert the user, so that we actually know that we need to fix something. (Ideally it would be able to configure that it also sends out an email.)

As for (1): I prefer - browsable - disk images, but individual files are OK, as long as it works.

As for (2): The built-in Win7 backup did this to me the other day, it failed the backup because it could not read a file.

As for (3): The Acronis Version that comes with BlackArmor NAS does this. It silently(!!) fails if the network drive is not reachable. It does not alert the user that he's not running backups.

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Is something wrong with online backup systems, for example backblaze? –  Olli Mar 15 '11 at 10:53
    
@Olli: Nah. Online Backup's not for me. I prefer to have the data locally. (Plus: Last backup I did was 4GB initially, can't see this working properly online.) –  Martin Mar 15 '11 at 11:52
    
my last online backup was 1.5TB, but it really depends on your internet connection (100/100Mbit/s is not really expensive in Finland, and in our apartment it's included in rent). –  Olli Mar 15 '11 at 15:13
    
@Olli: Thanks for this info. I guess the points above still apply to online backup services, as proper error handling has to be done there as well. Can you suggest an european service that ticks the boxes? (Pleas do so in an answer if you have actually experienced it to work.) –  Martin Mar 15 '11 at 15:46
    
Similar question: superuser.com/questions/76024/… –  Martin Oct 3 '11 at 8:32

2 Answers 2

there's serveral aspects to this

It works while the user is normally using the PC. Having open 7 Outlook windows and all his "important" office douments. If an individual file cannot be read for backup, it tries again later - there's no point in failing the whole backup just because some file could not be read because the user had it open in an application and it was locked.

Volume Shadow Copy should handle this. - most good backup software, windows 7 backup included should use this. An example of a standalone, free, file copier that uses this is hobocopy

Now, the third part is tricky - most backup software on windows isn't 'admin' aware - it assumes the user is handling most of it. I DO suspect you could use a command line tool, and dump the error logs to something like dropbox much more easily than to set up the system to email you tho.

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+1 for VSS. I never could find a compiled binary for hobocopy, though :( –  grawity Mar 15 '11 at 13:47
2  
@grawity: github.com/candera/hobocopy/downloads –  afrazier Mar 15 '11 at 18:57

Online backup systems seems to fullfil your requirements, assuming fast enough internet connection is available, without sadistic traffic caps.

I used Mozy earlier. They claim that if you sign up on European site, then your data is stored inside EU (and for mozy.com in USA). Short time ago they changed pricing from unlimited to restricted (150GB for 4.99e/month), so I changed.

I considered backblaze, but it seems that their datacenters are in USA.

After a while I ended up using UK based livedrive. There's no free trial, but they have 30 days money-back guarantee, if you are not satisfied or if it's not working. I think it satisfies all three points:

  1. Runs in background, you don't see it (unless you want to). Can't take full restore images (so in case of broken disk you have to reinstall OS and restore files after that).

  2. Requeues problematic files (for example when something is in use). Doesn't use VSS, unfortunately. Mozy does.

  3. If something goes wrong for longer time (few days, I think), it'll inform user. I think this is reasonable, because at least I don't want to have error message immediately, if there is some (probably temporary) problems.

At work we are using Windows 7 Backup to individual network disks (samba shares on larger server). It's working fine, and there is no problem with opened files, as Windows 7 Backup is using volume shadow copy to get consistent backup.

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