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What is the closest piece of backup software to being Time Machine (the great backup utility built into Mac OS X) for Windows (particularly Windows 7).

For those wondering, the best features of Time Machine are:

  1. the easy view of different versions of files backed up in the past
  2. the option to restore your computer to a certain date of your backups
  3. the smooth overwriting of old versions of your files (it just thins them out to weekly, rather than deleting the oldest versions)

Is there any Windows equivalent that has some/all of those features?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's a bit of a tangential answer to your question, but if you've got multiple computers, and you want a combination of a central backup and media server, then take a look at Windows Home Server.

It automatically takes nightly (incremental) backups of all connected PCs, but when viewed, the backup looks like a complete timestamped snapshot of the entire contents of the connected PC. By default, nightly snapshots are kept for 3 days, then weekly for 3 weeks, and monthly for three months. These can be changed to suit your needs.

You can view the contents of the snapshots, and choose one to restore all or some of the files from the given date.

It's saved my bacon a number of times, both when I accidentally deleted folders of digital photos, and when I needed to rollback to previous versions of files.

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Plus it is far better than Time Machine! :-) – Techboy Jul 23 '10 at 14:05
But doesn't this actually require a server at home? It wouldn't work with a regular external drive right? What about if I just want to use an external hard drive? – Enrico Susatyo Jan 26 '11 at 23:35

Closest I've found is the Rebit backup software. Its user interface for recovery isn't quite as flashy as Time Machine, but I believe it has all the features you are looking for. I use it myself and it works well. Plug in a drive, tell it to back up to that drive, and forget about it from then on. It'll thin the old data once the drive is full.

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It doesn't really sounds like it thins the old version but just deletes the oldest: "Even if it gets close to maximum capacity, Rebit deletes your oldest, uneeded backup data to make room for the most current information." – Steven Hepting Dec 3 '09 at 1:43
I highly recommend Rebit for unsophisticated users, you can't get much simpler than plug it in and forget about it. The new Rebit 5 looks like it's been polished and improved, but I haven't tried it yet. – Mark Johnson Mar 27 '11 at 16:55

I have three words to say, Crashplan, Crashplan, Crashplan. answer the question...I do not work for the company.

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What is it that makes this so special? – Ivo Flipse Dec 3 '09 at 11:11
This does seem quite good. Even the free version seems good and I like that it stores incremental changes. It doesn't talk much about how to restore older versions of files. – Steven Hepting Dec 3 '09 at 15:02

Actually Windows Vista's combination of System Restore and Previous Versions kind of does all three, just not to a different drive as far as I know.

enter image description here

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I like this for being able to restore the drive. – Steven Hepting Dec 3 '09 at 15:01 is a time machine like solution. The software is free if you use discount code: bos

As a disclaimer I work on FolderTrack.

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SO where does it backup the files then? (Browsing that website makes me think it's not backing up at all.) – Arjan Jul 21 '10 at 20:10
It backs them up on the same computer it is being run on. It does not currently do external backups. Thanks for pointing that out. I need to reword some things on the website – Nick Jul 21 '10 at 22:02
Nick, after registering, I assume the license code is sent via email? Nothing showed up on the page after registration – Moab Jul 21 '10 at 23:02
Nick, then I think this is not an answer to this question, and hence is plain spam, like discussed in the link I gave you earlier. You might want to revisit all your other posts too -- deleting them yourself might avoid them being tagged as spam. – Arjan Jul 22 '10 at 5:03
"I don't agree I never called FolderTrack a time machine clone" vs. " is a time machine like solution.". Aha. – Gnoupi Jul 23 '10 at 8:36

The built in Windows Backup tool in Windows 7 is pretty good. The XP product was workable but hard to use, Vista provided insufficient ability to specify a particular folder or exclude a particular folder, but Windows 7's backup tool is actually pretty good.

Combined with Previous Versions, and some batch files (.cmd files) that use 7zip to compress certain source code folders into nightly snapshots (I'm a programmer), plus my version control system. So, I like to see HOW MANY kinds of backup and redundancy I can implement that don't take any daily input from me.

I don't mind that the Previous Versions Client uses up a tonne of space on my local hard disk, in fact, I prefer it that way. I also don't mind that System Restore lets me roll back driver changes separately, and I prefer it that way.

Give the following facts: (a) that hard drives are huge and cheap, and (b) that an external hard drive is probably the most important, but not the only kind of backup you should consider, there is no reason to choose ONLY one solution, (c) online backup is growing in importance, but I have not found it useful since I need 100+ gigabytes of storage, and do not want to pay my ISP that much to upload 100 gb of data at a snail's pace.

What I have not found yet, is any third-party software that does not cause me more pain or trouble than it is worth.

I use a mac at home, and while I find Time Machine sufficient, there is actually LESS error recovery and less levels of safety there, than I am using in Windows. You could say, however, that I feel I need more levels of safety and security given that Windows has a long history of instability. However, with Windows 7, I have had fewer problems than with any previous version of Windows. (That being said, the operating system can't prevent hardware failures, and I have lost my primary hard drive once in the last 7 years, so backups are a MUST.)

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Giveaway of the day has "Genie Timeline Home 2.1" free today only, must be downloaded and installed by midnight west coast time.

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