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Backup companies obviously test their own software to find what they believe is the best blend of performance and compression, so it makes sense to use what they recommend. As these programs are designed to be used straight away with minimal tweaking, the defaults should be good enough for the vast majority of scenarios.
The System Used For Testing: Intel Core Quad Q 2. Clean Windows 8. What Tests Were Performed: Test 1 — Make a backup image of the Windows 8. The image is created on the second internal HDD and the amount of data to backup from C is Test 2 — After installing a game which adds an overall 2.
Test 5 — Similar to Test 4 apart from the the backup and also the incremental backup from Test 2 is restored to the hard drive. What is Incremental Imaging? After the initial full backup, if the next is an incremental backup, only the changes on the drive between those two points in time are saved. Any subsequent incremental backups will only record what has changed on the drive since the last incremental image was made.
Although incremental imaging is fast and efficient when backing up, it is known to be slower to restore because the backup software has to work through all the incremental image files. It also means you need every backup image to be intact to perform a complete restore, however many there are. General Software Notes Drive Snapshot — We used the differential backup mode because there is no incremental option. Because only a single increment is taken after the full backup, there should be virtually no difference between the two backup methods in terms of file size or speed.
AX64 Time Machine — There is an issue with the current version 1. This has been fixed in a recent beta and should be available as a final release soon. Paragon Backup and Recovery — Things are somewhat confusing because there are two different backup formats available, standard and the newer Virtual Disk format. The free version defaults to VD format which supports incremental backups, the standard format from the full interface can run differential backups.
The paid Home version defaults to the standard format on launch. Because more users are likely to use the free version, the VD format was used for testing.
We therefore recommend the VD format when using Paragon software. DriveImage XML — It defaults to no compression so we chose Fast as it would otherwise create a larger image than the partition size itself. The simple reason is Macrium, Paragon and EaseUs have confirmed to us that they use exactly the same backup engine in their free and paid software.
The differences between the versions are simply the features on offer and image size or backup speed are not affected at all. The Imaging Backup and Restore Results Here are the results for our backup test for all the backup software we looked at.
This first table is the backup only results, green is the best score followed by yellow, red is last place followed by orange as next to last.
These results are to restore the image created in the first table from recovery media. Aomei Backupper was impressive in its performance, winning two timed tests and being above average for most others. Acronis True Image was one of the best all rounders, being fast while offering decent compression.
Macrium Reflect and ShadowProtect also did well in most tests. If you can live with the DOS type environment, CloneZilla offers the best compression from boot media, while Drive Snapshot got the best compression ratio from within Windows.
R-Drive Image proved to be quite slow in both backup and restore. Comparing Free Imaging Software Free software only results are useful to those users not looking to pay for a drive imaging solution, the appropriate entries have been removed for missing backup functions. The restore results for free imaging software from the available recovery media. There are two clear winners for the free backup solutions.
Macrium Reflect Free also performs quite well but loses the ability to run incremental and differential backups. Active Lite is strange because it can backup your Windows drive quickly but cannot restore it because there is no boot media available in the free version.
Both Acronis based applications performed backups similar to the full True Image but weirdly both took twice as long at restoration. Full Backups: Most applications were within a minute or so of each other backing up from Windows. Windows System Image offered almost no compression at all, while the slightly slower Image for Windows and Drive Snapshot can get you the smallest output file sizes. For the most part, the backup size from boot disc was pretty much the same as within Windows, apart from Macrium Reflect which produced a MB bigger file and was over a minute slower.
Clonezilla offered great compression at a reasonable speed. Incremental Backups: This is supposed to be be the quickest way to backup recent changes to your drive, but in fact, only 6 of the 14 applications tested for incremental performance managed good results. The rest were similar or even slower than a backup of the whole drive itself, which partly defeats the point of incremental backups.
Windows itself was just about fastest to restore a standard system image, although this is likely due to the very light compression used. Given its backup speed, we were surprised to see EaseUS Todo Backup was quite slow at restoring both standard and incremental backups.
Overall Summary: Although it never won any of the main tests, we have to commend Acronis True Image for producing consistently strong results in all tests while showing no real weaknesses. Both Macrium Reflect and ShadowProtect were also strong but each had a weakness in at least one area.
EaseUs Todo Backup was good at backup speed but slower at restoration while AX64 was generally fast with its no frills ease of use philosophy. The higher compression and portability of Drive Snapshot makes it useful as a backup and restore from anywhere type of tool. Obviously these tests are only one part of how well a particular backup software works, testing for other factors such as reliability and stability are simply not possible unless a program is tested in multiple scenarios over a period of weeks or months.