Back up data, settings and more with Areca Backup

Back up your data, directories, settings, and more with this free, open source, Java-based tool.

Areca Backup is a free, open-source, Java-based backup utility. It's designed to be extremely easy to use for backing up files, directories, and settings. It supports incremental, differential, and full backups. But it's not designed to be a primary system backup tool like Windows Backup or Acronis. It's a fast, lightweight, and easy-to-use tool for backing up, recovering, and searching your archives. It requires an up-to-date version of the Java Runtime Environment, a free download.

Areca Backup's user interface has a familiar layout and look. A left-hand sidebar let us select an archive to display, and the main window is tabbed for displaying Archives, Logical View, History, Indicators, Search, Log, and Progression. Areca Backup also offers a Command Line interface that can be integrated into scheduling software, but we focused on the GUI tool. Areca's centered on Workspaces, which can be saved and imported. We started by clicking New Group on the Edit menu. We named and saved our new Group, and it appeared in the sidebar under our default Workspace. Next we selected a Target using a tool that let us specify a Repository from several options: Sources, with drag-and-drop capability; Compression, with Zip options, including encoding; and several interesting extras like the ability to specify pre- and post-processing parameters; Filters; and Transaction points. Better still, Areca offers Wizards for generating backup shortcuts and backup strategy commands.

We set up a backup of an MP3 archive with Standard data storage mode (other choices are Delta and Image) to a Local Repository, no compression or encryption, and following the same subdirectories. When we'd finished, we could simulate the backup before we ran it, a useful option (you can verify backups, too). Areca offers several ways to run backups; we clicked Start from the Run menu, and the program displayed the job's progress, recording it in the log file, history, and archives, with the data displayed in the Logical View. We just scratched the surface of Areca Backup's capabilities. We still insist there's no substitute for full backups that create disk and system images that can restore your computer when disaster strikes, but for everyday protection, Areca shines.

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