CyberNotes
Time Saving Tuesday




A few weeks ago we demonstrated an extremely simple backup solution called IdleBackup. It was nothing too fancy, and this time around we wanted to go to the other extreme with a freeware Windows backup application that will really knock your socks off. The program is called Cobian Backup, and I wouldn’t have found it without Leland’s help.

Cobian Backup is one of the most full-featured backup utilities that I’ve seen, and the best thing about it is that it’s completely free. I’ve been a proud owner of SyncBackSE for quite some time now, but Cobian Backup includes almost all of the same features in it’s latest version 9 Beta release. The interface is well designed, creating and scheduling backups is simple, and it is busting at the seams with customization!

cobian main
(Click to Enlarge)

–Features–

Now I could have just listed off the features that the developer had put together, but I actually think the developer is rather modest of what the program is truly capable of. So I put together my own set of features highlighting all of the things that I find to be the most useful in Cobian:

  • Can be installed as a service, which means it is able to run even when a user isn’t logged into the computer
  • 3 different types of backups are available:
    • Full backups: Every single file in the source will be copied or compressed. If you are overwriting, every file will be replaced. If Overwrite is unchecked, you will have several copies of the same source.
    • Incremental:  The program will check if the source has been changed from the last backup. If there is no need to copy the file, it will be skipped, saving backup time. The incremental procedure checks the Archive bit attribute of the file. You may want to manually reset the attribute to force a full backup: use the “Set the archive attributes” on the Task menu.
    • Differential: The program will check if the source has been changed from the last FULL backup. If there is no need to copy the file, it will be skipped, saving backup time. The differential procedure checks the Archive bit attribute of the file. You may want to manually reset the attribute to force a full backup: use the “Set the archive attributes” on the Task menu.
    • Dummy task: This backup doesn’t need a source or a destination. It is useful to use the task just as an scheduler to execute applications, close services, reboot the computer, etc.
  • Remotely connect to and manage your backups (Cobian will need to be installed on both the host and client machine to do this). Go to Tools -> Remote Client in Cobian to access this feature.
  • Backup to or from a network or FTP location
  • Compress your backups using 7-Zip or regular ZIP
    • Split the compressed files up into multiple files according to a maximum size that you specify
  • You can have multiple source and/or destinations
  • You can have a timestamp added to backup filenames so that existing backups are not overwritten
  • Perform a variety of actions before and/or after a backup starts:
    • Pause for a specified duration
    • Start or close a program
    • Start or stop a service
    • Restart or shutdown the computer
  • If you choose to perform an incremental or differential backup you can set Cobian to automatically do a full backup every X backups, where “X” is any number you want.
  • It will retrieve files from the Volume Shadow Copy (on XP and Vista) if a file is locked by another application
  • You can provide a list of files and/or folders to exclude
  • UNICODE support

–Creating a Backup–

When making a decision on which backup application to use it is pretty critical to see first-hand whether it is going to do what you want it to. And that’s what this screenshot gallery is for!

In Cobian there are seven different areas that you can configure for each backup task that you create. Below you’ll find a screenshot of each different area so that you can appropriately decide whether Cobian will be able to perform the backups in the way that you want it to.

(Click to Enlarge)
cobian backup 1 cobian backup 2 cobian backup 3 cobian backup 4 cobian backup 5 cobian backup 6 cobian backup 7

–Overview–

Cobian Backup is a tremendous application that will likely have much, if not all of what you’re looking for. It might take some time to get the backups setup just the way you want, but once you’re done the end result could save you days of frustration. Believe me, in the last two years I’ve had two different hard drives fail on me. If it wasn’t for the regular backups that I performed there could have been a lot of unrecoverable settings, pictures, and documents. Software like Cobian Backup can really come through in a pinch!

Cobian Backup Homepage
Note: In this review I was using Cobian Backup 9 Beta.