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I just bought a new Iomega external drive, and I'm trying to figure out which software to use to manage backups. I am not looking for software recommendations. These are already available in other SU questions.

I am simply asking: does product XYZ lock you in, yes or no?

Examples of the answers I am looking for:

  • Norton 360: yes. You cannot access Norton 360 backups with other software.
  • xcopy: no. xcopy does not modify the file contents in any way.

One product per answer please.

EDIT: Some additional info:

  • I am using Windows XP Professional (SP3).
  • I am particularly interested in: Iomega QuikProtect (included with the HDD), EMC Retrospect (also included), SyncBack (seems highly recommended), Cobian (same). But answers about any Windows product are welcome.
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4 Answers 4

Cobian either supports various common compression standards, but the encryption will lock you in if you use that. Without compression, it's essentially a straight copy, so there's no lock-in. I've found that it's very good for this kind of backup, as you can do timestamped backups, allowing you to very easily keep multiple copies of your data on the drive.

I can't speak for any of the others in the list, as I've not used them. The other software I've worked with in ntbackup (a bit limited, but can work reasonably), and Symantec's BackupExec - which is massive overkill for what you want. However, if you do chose it, the format is .bkf, which is shared with ntbackup. I've also used various rsync based programs, which are essentially direct copies, so no lock-in.

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The Windows backup utility included with Vista or Windows 7 stores its backups as normal ZIP files, allowing easy retrieval even without the software. Full-volume backups are VHDs, as far as I know; that format is openly documented so other software supporting it should exist.

Yes, I know it's not XP but the OP is likely not the only one interested in this and wouldn't start a poll otherwise.

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Syncback has a good freeware version with many options and does not lock you in in any way

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I make regular drive image backups with Ghost (usually like monthly), then use Windows builtin backup utility to back up my My Documents and a few other folders on a daily basis to a USB hard drive.

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