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Time Machine for Windows

I'm using Time Machine for backups on my Mac, and right now I'm using Synology's backup software (Data Replicator 3) for backing up my girlfriends PC. However, Time Machine gives me a couple of nice things:

  • No settings, just "on" or "off", and it just backs up the whole drive. It keeps a backup every hour for the last 24h, every day for the last month and every week till the drive fills up. It automatically syncs the backups to the NAS device when I connect.

  • If I ever need to restore, I can easily do a full system restore from an install CD.

  • A simple GUI to find deleted or changed files

Is there a similar alternative for Windows that Just Works? I don't care how nice the GUI is, or how many advanced options there are, as long as the defaults are sane.


Acronis True Image does something like this:

  • Backs up all files (to another drive, etc.) .We backup to removable USB drive. Then we rotate the drives.
  • Does incremental backups if you like.
  • Backs up in use files if you like. Can also set it to backup on shutdown, etc.

Cost is about $60.

  • Acronis really is a pretty solid product and a reasonable price. Macrium Reflect is another in the same vein. – STW Aug 12 '09 at 16:18
  • Thank you, I tried this and it fit the bill for me, now part of my standard sysadmin toolkit. :) – Kristian Jan 5 '10 at 11:20

IMO the best fit would be to buy a Windows Home Server, which isn't a 1-1 for the Time Machine but provides a solid backup system anyways. The key features are automatic backups of Windows Clients and easy recovery in case of system failure.

Another option if you're running Vista or 7 is to use the "Backup and Restore Center", which is a simple backup system that provides the basics.

Personally I use an SVN repository for my Documents and small files; it provides me revision control at the expense of some slight manual labor (SVN Monitor helps out)--it's far from perfect but great for keeping backups of the small and important files.

Update: Vista and 7 also support shadow copies of files (essentially previous versions). I'm unsure of how well it integrates with Backup/Restore but provided that your drive didn't die it's a pretty nice feature for grabbing old revisions of a file.

  • And, if you buy an HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server, it will support Time Machine backups from Macs also. – arathorn Aug 11 '09 at 20:49
  • I should have clarified that I already have a NAS device (Synology DiskStation), and setting up a Home Server for this single purpose is not high on my wishlist, given that I bought the DiskStation mainly to do backups. :) I found that Acronis True Image mostly does what I want, although it's not quite as simple as Time Machine (which truly is "set and forget"). – Kristian Jan 5 '10 at 11:18

Check out the integrated Backup and Restore Center in the Control Panel:

Backup and Restore Center

It's really, really simple to set a scheduled full system image. Just click the Back up computer button, choose a location, and there you are.

  • Hmm, seems like 'Backup Computer' is a manual operation, and that it is not incremental... – Rabarberski Sep 10 '09 at 6:58
  • Image link is dead by now. – Joey May 3 '10 at 19:55

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