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I've been searching the internet for a backup solution for Windows, free or paid, with no luck. I'm considering whether to invest my free time to code such a program. I want the following characteristics:

  • file based: imaging is too radical and space consuming for my needs. I care personal data, not system settings. Possibility to include or exclude files or directories.
  • block based: I could have duplicates in my data
  • versioning: I want to be able to extract a file or folder from a selection of versions, ranging from very old copies to very recent ones, in a non-linear fashion (for example: 2 months ago, 1 month ago, 2 weeks ago, 1 week ago, 3 days, 1 day, 12 hours, 6 hours, 3 hours) using an hanoi backup scheme
  • automatic space management: I give the software a free external disk and it has to fill it. When the disk is full it gives me options about file priority, with automatic versions deletion, keeping a minimum number of versions for every file, but considering file dimensions and variability in time
  • VSS support: backups must be online (with apps running)
  • stupid simple: few things but done very well. Reliable. Gives alarms when there are real problems. No nagging with updates or advertising.
  • offline: works when the phone line is down

How it should work: I setup some directories with data I care. I give the program an external drive with at least five times the space occupied by the directories, to make room for different versions. The program runs silently and I forget it's running (like my fridge or my dishwasher) until I delete/overwrite/mess some files and I need a previous version.

I considered Cobian backup, but it doesn't have a functional restore. For me it's a bloated ROBOCOPY script.

I currently use Windows 7 backup, but it doesn't have options, it doesn't fill the external drive, it keeps versions linearly. I like the interface very much. I don't want to switch to Windows 8 only for the much better backup solution (which uses libraries, by the way, which I don't understand).

Any solutions you know?

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Sounds like you are (mostly) describing a combination Windows' in-built Previous Versions, in conjunction with regular backup, does it not fit the bill for you? –  techie007 Nov 9 '12 at 19:53
    
If I do a backup every hour, Previous Versions keeps only the latest 12 hours of files, and the disk is half empty –  Mario Nov 9 '12 at 21:12
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2 Answers

Crashplan offers pretty much everything that you are looking for. You can pay for offsite, but the free software allows you to have version control, data sets, dedup, etc. and you can backup to an internal drive, external drive, or even a friends computer.

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I don't want online backup because my connection is slow and unreliable. Crashplan seems to be online-based with offline backup as an addition, which is the opposite of what I want. The free version is not realtime backup (which I need), but I'm giving it a try –  Mario Nov 10 '12 at 13:03
    
Once installed it's asking for a new account, so I'm out of this. –  Mario Nov 10 '12 at 13:15
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AutoVer satisfies most of your needs, though i am not sure if it supports VSS.

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