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Backup? What backup?

We all know why we need to back up. If you use your computer as much as I do, then you’re constantly creating, modifying and collating new files; your hard drive swelling by the minute. Ensuring that your backups are current and comprehensive is an arduous job, often complicated by the fact that most people have small hard drives on their machines.

Thankfully, some products aim to ease this task. One of them is Backup and Recovery Home 14, by German software titan Paragon. The tool runs on Windows 2000 through Windows 8.1 and offers an comprehensive approach, from backing up your files to your entire system. Earlier versions have received glowing reviews, and the latest version impresses with a number of killer backup and restore utilities for the low price of $40.

But is it any good? I gave it a spin.

First Impressions

I installed Paragon on a wheezy, Lenovo crap-top from yesteryear, rocking an anemic AMD Vision processor, a solid state drive and a fully up-to-date install of Windows 7. This isn’t a powerhouse, but it still managed to run it without any perceptible slowdown.

Installing it was as simple as installing any Windows application, although I was prompted to install a couple of dependencies at the start. After 10 minutes, Paragon Backup and Recovery 14 was sitting pretty on my hard drive.

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paragon-home

Yeah, the landing page inexplicably takes a page or two from the Windows 8 aesthetic. However, this veneer of Metro-ness was removed after entering the guts of the application, upon which we are greeted with something which looks a bit more familiar.

Drive Monitoring

Although not advertised in the name, Paragon Backup and Recovery can check the file system for imperfections and flaws. This is handy, as it gives you a heads-up as to if your HDD / SSD is on the fritz, effectively warning you of impending data loss.

paragon-test-surface

I decided to give this a try, running both a surface test which looks for bad sectors, as well as a file-system scan.

This required a restart, upon which my computer booted up into a slightly scary looking program. This informed me of the progress of the scans I was running, as well as if there were any issues with my drive (there weren’t). One slight complaint was that the estimated time of completion wasn’t accurate. It said that each scan would take around 30 minutes, but took significantly longer, resulting in me eventually leaving my computer running overnight and going to bed.

paragon-test

If you’re planning to use Paragon to check on the health of your hard drive, you’d be advised to do so when you’re not planning to be productive.

Backup

One of the main features advertised by Paragon is the ability to back up files, folders and your entire hard drive. In addition,  you can also back up emails retained locally on your computer. I decided to create a backup archive of my Documents folder. This was a relatively simple process; I selected the type of backup required, the folder I wanted to back up and the place where I wished to store my backup.

paragon-packup-select

It’s worth noting that the tool offers a plenty of backup options, including ‘Smart Backup’, ‘Differential Backup’, ‘Incremental Backup’ and ‘Synthetic Backup’. It’s not immediately obvious what each one of these is, and they aren’t fully explained. However, this is a design complaint, not a functionality one.

paragon-backup-options

Backups can be scheduled, and also scripted, allowing you to handle backups and restorations without any stress.

The process of creating a backup was a little bit slow, given that I was running a SSD in peak health and given that my Windows computer isn’t my main machine, the Documents folder isn’t especially full. Despite this, the backup was created accurately, and was restored with a minimum of fuss. Which brings us onto our next point – restorations.

Restoration

Once I created my archive, I decided to restore it. This was stored in a pre-defined location in my Documents folder, and when I visited it with the file explorer, I was unable to directly open it.

Instead, I had to open it with Paragon. Restoring backups was a simple, relatively quick process (especially in comparison to creating the initial backup). It uses a wizard, which presents each archive chronologically in a list, and you are able to select which one you wish to restore. You can also decide what files and folders you wish to restore.

paragon-archive-restore

After that, it’s a simple matter of pressing ‘Next’ a few times until your files have successfully been restored.

Conclusion

I really like Paragon Backup and Recovery Home 14.

Sure, it has its fair share of warts, including some incomprehensible design choices and inaccurate ETAs. But it does handle backing up and restoring files perfectly, and for that it ought to be commended.

Give it a go and let me know how you find it in the comments below!

  1. meditek
    January 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I hope I never will 'lose a file again'. I have just kicked Acronis 2014 into touch as it failed to back up my wife's Thunderbird settings despite using disk image backup (imagine the earache after the 'restore'. It took days to get her emails etc back together using the restored data)!!

    I am sincerely hoping that Paragon will prove better. i had used Acronis for years and it always did what I hoped after a virus or crash until last week. Seems Acronis can have a problem with open files. The Acronis F11 boot time rescue would not work on her Lenovo laptop either.

    The only worthwhile test of a backup program is whether it can easily be restored. Oh, for product that works as well as Arcserve did 20 years ago when I was working.

  2. Allan Fritz
    May 16, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I bought this piece of software by recommandation. I use Aoimei Backupper (Freeware) and it works without any hassle. This Paragon Back Up and Recovery 14 made my back up, but there is no way, it can be restored. I tried their "service", and all I got was a useless link. I'm done with this company (even German) and I'll stick to Aomai Backupper

  3. Mini S
    March 13, 2014 at 8:27 am

    it is good software for back up but minitool power data recovery is good tool for recovery

  4. Paleolith
    March 13, 2014 at 1:03 am

    You missed the critical issues:

    Creation of bare metal recovery media
    Restoration of a PC which will not boot
    Can the recovery media boot in Windows 8 and 8.1

  5. David Shear
    March 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    EASUS ToDo Backup Free (for home use) is more than adequate for a home user.

    Simple to understand and use - and did I mention? - it's FREE.

  6. Dacker
    March 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Will it backup NAS drives, either as a mounted drive or as a share on a network? I've found several backup software packages which cannot or are unreliable.

    • Ben L
      March 13, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Without more experience on the matter I couldn't say for sure, but I wouldn't see why not. I was able to backup my whole external 1TB Segate hard drive, and (I don't think, corrrect me if I'm wrong) that's not very much unlike a NAS, it's still considered by Windows as a "foreign" device.

    • Dacker
      March 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      You would think that were the case. I have tried several free packages only to find that a drive directly connected to the host PC via USB works just fine however as soon as you try to specify a backup source, these packages either don't see the NAS drive or if they do see the mounted drive they give you a useless error.

      The Western Digital backup S/W which came with my 4TB external (USB, and my backup destination) refuses to see the NAS unless you pony-up something like $250 for the pro version. That may be okay for a business but crazy expensive for home use.

      I've been trying to use another free package called Cobian Backup. It is a very flexible "pro" product and will do full backups of whatever source I want however when it is time to do either an incremental or differential backup, it backs-up all the right folders but none of the files within the folders.

      This stuff goes on-and-on with every free backup product I've tried.

  7. KC1127
    March 12, 2014 at 3:09 am

    How does this product compare with Acronis True Image 2014?

  8. Augustine Joseph
    March 11, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Good tool for backup
    will it backup to the external hard drive.
    I don't see any useful in getting backup to my document .

    • Ben L
      March 13, 2014 at 1:13 am

      Yes, it will back up to anywhere in the Windows file tree.

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