I'm looking at the various local backup programs for windows, and I was wondering which of them use a non-proprietary backup format?

By non-proprietary, I mean I want to be able to access at least the latest version of the backed up files either directly, or by using an open-standard format like zip/7z/rdiff...

The other thing I'm looking for in a backup program is the ability to create incremental backups.

What I have found so far:

  • SyncBack copies files as-is, using separate directories for versioning
  • pretty much the same for all the 'roll you own' task scheduler + rsync/xcopy32/robocopy/MS SyncToy/etc solutions
  • GFI Backup appears to be using Zip files, at least in their 'Business' version, not sure about the free 'Home' version. Didn't try it yet, but it's next on my list.
  • Mozy (!) supports local backup starting with v 2.0 and basically provides a 2nd local copy on a separate partition. Subjectively, it feels slow and resource intensive (I think it took more than a week to finish the first local backup of ~ 300 GB), and does not appear to offer file versioning (arguably, you can get older file versions online). On the positive side, it looks like the local backup is integrated in the restore process which was traditionally a masochistic experience (and this goes for any online backup provider).

Other suggestions?

I favor ease of use over tons of options (e.g. SyncBack is very flexible but it offers sooo many ways to shoot yourself in the foot...)

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I used to use WinRAR in "synchronize" mode for this. It can keep NTFS metadata, file versions... but updating the archive may take time.

Later I hacked together robocopy and Volume Shadow Copy. Does incremental backups, etc. VSS allows open/locked/in-use files to be copied.

Currently I'm reading about hobocopy, which can use VSS by itself, but it doesn't appear to propagate file deletions. Still can be useful for backups.


Windows XP has a built in backup tool. There is instructions on installing it (if it isn't already installed) and usage here.

  • "non-proprietary backup format" – grawity Mar 30 '11 at 5:39
  • @grawity, Windows XP backup can be read by 7zip. – Daisetsu Apr 1 '11 at 21:21

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