2

I need a free program that can backup computers with different Windows versions (XP, 2003, Vista, 7) to a network server or one computer on the network that will serve as backup.

I want it to be able to synchronize folders that I picked from each computer every few hours or instantly on folder change!

It would be nice to have an option to only synchronize left to right (incremental): New and modified files are copied from left to right, but deletions are not.

5

From my experience, Crash Plan works like this, and is free for anyone backing up to their own own computers. Unfortunately, it only does continuous in the free version, but automatically makes daily backups incrementally. So far as I've tested, it's worked on all of my versions of Windows, and claims to support Linux and Mac.

I'm also looking for one that's free and has continuous file syncing, rather than daily, but for me this does for now.

Checklist:

  • ✓ Free (for anything not on Code42's cloud and every backup location listed in your requirements)
  • ✓ Backups
  • ✓ XP and up
  • ✗ Every few hours or more (Only daily and manual in free version)
  • ✓ Keeps deleted files backed up
4

Try BitTorrent Sync. Not to be confused with the BitTorrent client. BitTorrent Sync can transfer your files through the net, encrypts their contents by default, and supports Win/Linux/OSX/ios/android. It will transfer files and is smart enough to understand renames and moves. It's currently free but it may not be in the future.

SyncThing is another one to keep your eye on, but when I tried it a couple months ago it was difficult to setup and not production ready.

3

DSynchronize is what I ended up using after trying out and comparing quite a few different backuping software. I've been using it for several years now.

It's a small program with a minimalistic design. Still it can do pretty much anything one could wish for. You basically pair sets of folders. This can also be done to a remote server via FTP. There are some settings that can be changed, for example regarding whether you want them synced both ways, or whether to run a more standard back-up by copying files one-way. And plenty of more.

You can schedule automatic backups. And also add filtering conditions. When files are deleted or replaced they can be moved to a "trash-can" folder for a while before being removed indefinitely.

But the thing that makes it outstanding in my opinion is the capacity for "Real-Time sync". DSynchronize senses within seconds whenever a file has been added/changed/deleted in any of all the folders it overlooks and then imminently performs whatever sync/back-up action it has been instructed.

Setting up a system for back-up/syncing that immediately updates a an exactly mirrored version of selected parts of your harddrive on an remote server in a different location must be the most foolproof way for keeping all your digital stuff safe.

1

I have tried many (many, many) over the years and the best choice for you (for almost anyone) is Free File Synch

  • file and folder backup (although it's even better if the same tool supports system backups)
    yup and yup (Copy locked files (Volume Shadow Copy Service) )
  • incremental backups
    not so sure, but I consider them to be A Bad Thing (anything other than a total, unencrypted, uncompressed, normal file system backup introduces possible problems when restoring)
  • programmable, automatic backups (at a specific time / every night)
    yup (Automate sync as a batch job )
  • supports external hard drives (as target)
    yup (that's where I keep mine)
  • preferably free as in beer & speech (which one must mix with caution ;-)

Key Features

Detect moved and renamed files and folders
Copy locked files (Volume Shadow Copy Service)
Detect conflicts and propagate deletions
Binary file comparison
Configure handling of Symbolic Links
Automate sync as a batch job
Process multiple folder pairs
Comprehensive and detailed error reporting
Copy NTFS extended attributes (compressed, encrypted, sparse)
Copy NTFS security permissions
Support long file paths with more than 260 characters
Fail-safe file copy
Cross-platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
Expand environment variables like %USERPROFILE%
Access variable drive letters by volume name (USB sticks)
Native 64-bit support
Keep versions of deleted/updated files
Prevent disc space bottlenecks via optimal sync sequence
Full Unicode support
Highly optimized runtime performance
Include/exclude files via filter
FreeFileSync portable and local installation available
Handle daylight saving time changes on FAT/FAT32
Use macros %time%, %date%, et al. for recurring backups
Case-sensitive synchronization
Built-in locking: serialize multiple jobs running against the same network share 

Supported Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows FreeFileSync runs natively on all 32 and 64-bit Windows versions:

Windows 10
Windows 8.1
Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Windows 2000

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