I backup my data fairly reliably but three times I have been put into a situation where when the backup was needed the backup program failed and I was told the software was no longer being supported. The last time was in 2012 with the HP backup software that came bundled with my computer.

Having learned my lesson the first time I always keep a straight copy. Unfortunately, over time, this wastes quite a bit of memory.

Does anyone know of backup software that:

  1. does a straight copy, the same as if files were drag and dropped, instead of backup to files formatted to be only opened by that particular backup software
  2. does an incremental backup

I have terabytes of external hard drive space where a good 60-70% is duplicate files because it's too easy to miss files with the brunt force method of incremental backup so each time I backup I do the whole thing. Simply because experience has taught me I can't rely on backup file formats to be accessible when needed.

The ability to tag and save previous versions of changed files rather than just replace during backup would be great but as long as it does 1 and 2, I won't be greedy.

  • See here for some solutions (assuming you're using Windows). Linux has things like rsync, and any Time Machine backup on OS X is browsable as a standard HFS+ volume.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 8:53
  • 3
    For which operating system?
    – unor
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 9:53
  • 1
    Check out Windows's own backup program, I don't think it's going to be discontinued anytime soon and even then, as far as I know it only uses zip files.
    – user111
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 10:52
  • @User111 Terabytes of data in a ZIP file? That's exactly why I decided to not recommend Cobian Backup.
    – user416
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 10:08

5 Answers 5


I use FreeFileSync to sync my multiple internal hard drives with one large USB drive. Total data is about 1.5TB.

  1. It will copy just like drag and drop (no proprietary backup formats)
  2. It will only copy what has been changed (incremental)

However, it will not backup multiple versions - you will only have the latest version on your external drive.

I use it for when I travel so I can still access all my files on my "pocket drive." One nice feature is that if I change something on the backup drive, it will sync back to my main drive. This is also configurable so if you do not want that to happen, you can make sure it only copies one way.

It exists for Windows, Mac, and Linux (I use the Windows version) and they regularly update it. Best of all, it is free.

  • I use FreeFileSync as well for my backups and would recommend it, although it is not truly a backup software but a synchronization one, so it will not keep multiple versions of the same file. I always start with a straight copy using the file explorer as it is faster than through FreeFileSync. I use FreeFileSync in a second time to find which files are new and synchronize them. I would suggest double-checking that new subfolders are created. Globally a very useful tool to backup files.
    – OuzoPower
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 17:12
  • Actually, @OuzoPower, if you look in FFS under Sync Settings, under Synchronization, under Delete Files, you can turn on versioning (though I have never used this feature).
    – John
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 11:26
  • Thank you John. I didn't test but good to know it.
    – OuzoPower
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 10:40

I have used KLS Backup with good results. It can either compress to standard ZIP or 7z formats, or simply copy over. Incremental and differential backups also work well in it.


Check out Bvckup 2 :

Select a pair of folders and Bvckup 2 will make sure that one stays an exact copy of the other. It is light, uncomplicated and really well designed. It is also incredibly fast.

(source: bvckup2.com)

This does the equivalent of a copy/paste, and can also move deleted files to an "archive" folder. Unfortunately I don't think it uses this archiving feature if the files are merely changed (vs. completely deleted). I don't know if this fits your needs.

As far as performance goes I've successfully used it over the network to backup to a remote Samba share (on a Linux server), worked perfectly. This can of course also work with local files.

The stable version is paid (with a free trial) but the "beta" version is free and despite being a beta I've never had a single issue with it.


The file backup tool ViceVersa backups everything as Windows files and has a nice archiving feature where any deleted or overwritten files can be archived to directory. Archived files are regular files but with the name having the date and time appended.

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My advice would be to look at macro editors instead of dedicated backup software. They give you unparalleled flexibility to duplicate files or folders to an external drive. My personal recommendation for a macro editor is Robotask (http://robotask.com).

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