If I had $1 for every time someone lost a file, but didn’t have a backup, I would be very rich. Backups are easy and free. You can even use online storage that is under-used with CBackup.
CBackup is a free file backup utility for Windows PC. This means that it backs up the files stored on the disk, but it does not create a bootable image of the disk itself. With a file backup, you can restore lost, deleted or corrupted files from the backup, but you cannot completely erase the disk or replace it with a new one and restore the original contents. File backups protect your files, but not the disk.
It is useful to have both types of backup and a complete disk image is useful when there is a hardware failure and the drive must be replaced. The backup image can be restored, but creating and restoring disk image is slow. A file backup is quick, it can run hourly, and it stores copies of important work or personal files. It can even store multiple versions of files, so you can return to a previous version if you have made changes that cannot be undone.
System disk image backups and file backups can be used together. You might image the disk once a week or month and run file backups hourly.
Where to store backups
Backups are most commonly stored on an external drive, such as a USB drive plugged into the computer. CBackup backs up to online storage instead. In some ways, cloud storage is better than a USB drive. With theft, fire and flood for example, your backup is not next to your computer where it might suffer the same fate, it is somewhere else, stored in the cloud.
Online backup is not unusual and there are many services that store your files online. What is different about CBackup is that it can store backups in your own personal cloud storage.
With CBackup, you can select Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive as the destination for PC file backups. This is interesting and if you already pay for extra space on any of these services and are not using all of it, the unused space can be used for backups. For example, if you have 1 TB of storage for Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive and you are only using a couple of hundred gigs of the space, the remainder could be used by CBackup for your file backup storage.
CBackup is free and if you already have online storage, there is no extra cost in using it. If you don’t have sufficient online storage, such as if you only have OneDrive 5 GB free space or Dropbox 2 GB free space, you can either pay for more space on OneDrive or Dropbox or Google Drive, or pay for CBackup online storage, which is $2.99 a month for 1,000 GB.
I have 50 GB of free space on OneDrive, which is plenty for file backups and the CBackup app is free. Here’s how it works.
1 Create a new backup task
Go to www.cbackup.com and download and install the CBackup utility. Run it and your first job is to create a backup task. Either now or later, click the default task name at the top and call it something descriptive.
There is a source, and this is the files you want to back up, and a destination, which is the place to save the backup to. Click the Add Source button.
2 Select folders and files to back up
A standard file browser and selector is displayed and checkboxes are used to mark the items for backup. You don’t normally back up all files on the disk with file backups and usually only your personal files are copied. For example, you could choose to back up the Users folder.
You could dig a little deeper and go to C:\Users\YourName and then tick the folders to back up, like Documents, Photos, Music and Videos folders. Beware of selecting C:\Users because it may contain big files like virtual machines, which can be tens of gigabytes. Make sure it is note too big.
3 Select the backup destination
This is where CBackup gets interesting and you can pay for CBackup Cloud storage or you can use your own personal cloud storage, which may already be paid for and using it incurs no extra cost.
Single Cloud is a single storage provider like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. Combined Cloud enables you to use multiple services, so if you have 50 GB free on OneDrive and 60 GB free on Google Drive, they can be combined to provide 110 GB of online storage space for backups. That is clever.
I am going to use Single Cloud and have backups stored on a single online service.
4 Add cloud storage
Choose Single Cloud and then in the next window, click the plus button to add a cloud service of your choice.
5 Select cloud storage
It is possible to combine the free space on all services you have accounts with, but I am going to use just OneDrive as it has plenty of free space. Select it and click the Add button.
6 Authorize access to storage
No matter which online storage service you use, you will need to authorize access. CBackup needs this to be able to write the backup files to your account. Give permission to continue. This only needs to be done once and the step is skipped the next time you create a backup.
7 Select the backup destination
Now the destination for the backup can be selected. The amount of space used by backups (0.00 so far) and the amount of free space is displayed.
8 View the backup task
The backup task is created and the backup job can be started right now. The first online backup takes a long time because every file must be uploaded to your online storage. It could be several gigabytes or even tens of gigabytes if there are photos and videos. Subsequent backups are faster because only new or changed files are backed up.
9 Set a backup schedule
You might want to set a schedule so that backups are automatic. They can be once a day or as often as once an hour. Click the Settings button at the bottom of the window to access scheduled backups and set the frequency you prefer.
CBackup is a great way to use the spare space on your online drives like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. You could use the File History feature in Windows to create hourly backups to a USB drive, but this does not require a drive, backups are off-site and so are safer, and File History is unreliable for me and I often find it is not running when it should be.