AOMEI Backupper is a well designed and easy to use piece of backup software, one which makes automatically keeping a PC backed-up a straightforward and reliable task.
Featuring full system image backups, disk partition and file-level backups, secure AES-192-bit encryption, file compression, good scheduling options plus the ability to clone and migrate existing hard drives and SSDs amongst many other features, AOMEI Backupper is a very competent backup solution and one to be taken seriously.
Best of all, a lot of the main backup features can be found in the Standard version of Backupper which is 100% free to use, the full set of backup and disk imaging tools can be found in the professional version which is priced at a very reasonable $49.95 per device which includes a lifetime of free upgrades to any new versions as a part of the deal.
With this being said, its time to start this AOMEI Backupper review and see what this software can do, let’s go!
- Well designed, easy to use backup software
- Support for File, partition, disk and full system image backups
- Secure AES file encryption support (AES 192-bit)
- Supports multiple different backup methods (e.g. full, incremental, differential)
- Folder synchronisation tools included (real-time sync in Professional)
- Support for disk copying, cloning and migration operations (professional)
- Support for migrating disks to SSDs (including SSD alignment)
- Good scheduling support (can be run as separate service if needed)
- Support for restoring to dissimilar hardware
- Bootable media builder (WinPE or Linux options available)
- Limited cloud backup support (must use cloud storage via the CBackup add-on)
- Standard version is 100% Free to use (for personal, non-commercial use)
- Professional version priced @ $49.95 / per PC (with free lifetime upgrades)
AOMEI Backupper Usability
In this section of this AOMEI Backupper review I will be looking at the software in more detail and seeing how well it functions. This process starts off with the installation process and then moves on making a file level backup, restoring files, making use of the full system image backups and then, finally, looking at some of the other features included in Backupper such as file synchronisation and recovery media tools.
Different Versions Available
As of the time of writing this review there are several versions of AOMEI Backupper available, staring with the Standard version which is 100% free for personal usage, a Professional version with additional backup and disk imaging functionality provided, through to more specialised versions designed for use in business and on servers. The full range of Backupper versions currently includes:
- AOMEI Backupper Standard: The basic version of the software offering a good range of backup, disk cloning and file synchronisation functionality at zero cost to the personal (non-commercial) user. Some limitations do exist however, this incudes the lack of encryption on backups, the lack of real-time synchronisation in the sync tool and no use of the universal restore tool for recovering image backups to new or dissimilar hardware.
- AOMEI Backupper Professional: This is the premium version of Backupper aimed at personal (non-commercial) home users, it takes everything that the Standard version does and extends it even further with many more functions and settings available. Additional functionality includes use of AES 192-bit encryption and file exclusion filters, the ability to clone a full system and adjust partition sizes whilst doing so, the ability to restore to dissimilar hardware and the ability to make use of real-time and two-way folder synchronisation amongst other things. Additionally, professional support is available 24hrs per day when purchasing the Professional version (in contrast, only limited “business hours” support is available to Standard users).
- AOMEI Backupper Workstation: Functionally the same as the Professional version, the main feature of the Workstation version of Backupper is that it is licenced for use on commercial (business) devices at a cost of $59.95 / per device.
* NB – There are also Server, Technician and Technician Plus licences also available for AOMEI Backupper, given that these are all specialist business licences, they are therefore beyond the scope of this review. Instead, the main focus of the review will be across the main two versions designed for personal usage, these being the free to use Standard version and the feature packed Professional version which starts at just $49.95 for a single PC licence featuring lifetime free upgrades.
Installing AOMEI Backupper
The Installation of Backupper starts off at the AOMEI webste, from here we can download the Standard version of the software for free or, alternatively, take advantage of a 30 day free trial of AOMEI Backupper Professional.
At a reasonable 116MB in size, the Standard version installer can be downloaded relatively quickly and installed with just a couple of clicks before the software is ready to use. Should you want to trial the Professional version this can be done from within the installer itself, once activated this option will automatically grant use of the Professional features for a full 30 days before reverting back to the free version (best of all, no personal details need to be shared with AOMEI in order to take advantage of the free Professional version trial).
With the installation of Backupper complete, we will be taken to the initial homepage of the application where we can start building our first backup set straight away.
* For the remainder of this review I will be focusing on the Professional version, I will however, look at some of the differences between the free and professional versions and summarise them later on in the review.
Setting-up a New File Backup
Backupper gives us the ability to backup our files and folders, entire disks and partitions alongside full system image backups which will automatically backup all disks and partitions that make up a working Windows system (including all user data, files, installed applications and the operating system itself). In this section, however, I will be focusing on the basic file-level backup and then move on to have a look at the full system imaging capabilities a little later on in the review.
Starting off at the main backup screen (accessed via the “Backup” tab on the left of the Backupper window) and we see the main types of backup available to us, this includes the “File backup” option I will be choosing in this particular example. Once in the “File backup” wizard, the first page of which will allow us to select any files and folders to be included in the backup (on a one-by-one basis) as well as specify the target location for saving the backup to and a name for the backup set itself.
* Note that as of now we only have the option of backing up to a locally attached drive or a network / shared folder. Later on I will look at the CBackup service which allows limited access to 3rd party cloud storage including a cloud storage service provided by AOMEI themselves (labelled as CBackup).
With the files to backup selected and the location for storing the backup now set, we can further configure the backup set using the advanced configuration buttons found towards the bottom of the setup screen (as can be seen below). These buttons include the advanced settings for the backup (encryption, compression, file splitting etc.), the backup scheme to be used and, finally, the scheduling tool for running this new backup set automatically.
Starting off in the “Backup Settings” screen and we now have the ability to apply secure AES 192-bit encryption to the backup set alongside the ability to configure email alerts for when the backup set is run (which requires email alerts be first configured in the main settings screen for the Backupper application itself).
* Note that use of secure AES 192-bit encryption is one of the best ways to protect you valuable data whilst it is backed up, even if your device used for backup is lost or stolen (e.g. an external hard drive) then thanks to secure encryption being enabled your data will remain highly secure.
Moving on and under the advanced settings tab (as can be seen above) we have the option to set the compression level of the backup as well as the splitting level for the files which are to be stored in the target location (this includes, as can be seen above, the option to split into 700MB files for easily writing these files to optical discs when applicable). Other options include the ability to set the operation priority thus limiting the performance impact on the host PC if this is deemed necessary to minimise the impact of the backup being run.
Moving on and now looking at the “Schedule” options screen (as can be seen below) and we have the option to automate when our backup set is run via a custom schedule. This is a fairly powerful scheduling engine and allows backups to be run on every day, week or month, on specified week days or at specified intervals between a range of times, for example, hourly between 1PM and 6PM every day.
* Note that whilst this is a good scheduling engine overall, it should be pointed out that the minimal interval upon which backups can be taken is only every 1 hour!
Still in the Scheduling screen and we also have the ability to configure the backup scheme to be used by this backup set (this is done via the “Backup Scheme” tab on the left of the window).
Available backup schemes include full, incremental and differential, when using the incremental or differential options we can also specify that another full backup be taken after a certain number of backups have been made (thus shortening the “chain” and making for potentially quicker backups and restores in the process). Moving further down this screen and we can also turn on automatic backup clean-ups, this means we can specify how long old backups are kept, in effect allowing us to have full control over the file version history settings in the process (in the example above we have specified all versions are to be kept for 30 days and a monthly full backup for at least 2 years thereafter).
With all settings complete the new backup set will now be ready to run, as can be seen above, when saving our backup set we will be asked whether we want to simply save the set and await the schedule to pick it up later on or, alternatively, save the schedule and run the backup straight afterwards.
And with this step the backup configuration is now complete, if email alerting has been turned on then this can be used to monitor the backup, alternatively, the backup versions report (under the backup sets properties page) can be used to view the activity of the backup set so far.
In the next section I will look at using the full system image backup option and then restoring files from this new backup set a little later on.
Full Disk Image Backups
Whilst file level backups are a quick, efficient and convenient way of getting important files backed-up, the ability to make use of full system image backups can be a great way of ensuring everything on your PC, including all user data, files, applications and the operating system itself are all safely backed-up. In the same way as the file backup made earlier on, creating a new system image backup beings in the “Backup” tab where we can select the “System backup” option as is shown below:
Once we start working within the full system image wizard, we will see the tool has automatically worked out all of the disks and partitions which make up the underlying Windows system and added them to the backup set for us, this means the only thing we need to specify here now is the disk or network share to be used as the target storage for the backup.
The remaining backup settings are largely the same as they were when we looked at the file level backup earlier on with the scheduling, encryption and compressions options available to us remaining exactly the same. One of the advanced settings which has changed is the ability to make use of intelligent sector backups or not, when turned on (which is the default setting) this option will ensure that only the actively used portions of any partitions and disks are added to the image thus, in turn, helping keep image backups quick and reducing the amount of storage space needed to save them.
With the advanced configuration set, the image backup can then be run immediately or left for the schedule to pickup.
* Note that whilst we can make image backups in both the Professional version and the free Standard version, the Professional version affords us more options for working with an image backup including the ability to create a full system image and also restore the image to dissimilar hardware, ideal if upgrading or replacing the original computer upon which the image backup was made.
Now we have seen both the file level and full system image backups in action, it is time to look at using Backupper to recover some of our backed-up files. To do this I will be recovering form the file level backup I made earlier on in this review, this begins on the “Restore” screen as can be seen below.
At this point I have both a fie level backup and an image level backup running, as such I will begin by choosing the file-level backup set, as can be seen above, then starting the restore process. After choosing this file-level set the next screen allows the browsing of any data saved within it, we can then select one of more files and / or folders for recovery (as can be seen below):
With any files and folders to be restored now selected, we can ask the software to restore them either to the original location (with the option to overwrite existing copies) or to another location of our choosing. This is a really important setting to have included within Backupper as we might need to preserve the files in the original location as well as preserve the NTFS file permissions to boot (something only available in the Professional version upwards).
And with that the restore is complete, a very quick and easy to use restore component which still has the crucial settings allowing file permissions to be preserved and the restore location to be specified.
File and Folder Synchronisation
Whilst the backup and restore functionality are clearly the key components of AOMEI Backupper, it is great to see a comprehensive file and folder synchronisation tool also included within all versions the software.
As can be seen above, we can make use of this synchronisation functionality via the “Sync” page, a process which begins with the choosing of one of four different operating modes, these are:
- Basic Sync – As the name suggests, the basic synchronisation option will keep two folders in sync with each other based upon either a schedule, an event happening (e.g. USB drive bing plugged-in) or when run manually via the Backupper homepage. Options are also available for email alerts, verification checks and (in the Professional version onwards) the ability to run jobs (such as running other applications) before and after the sync has taken place.
- Real-Time Sync – Similar to the basic sync mentioned above, users of the Backupper Professional version and higher will additionally get access to real-time synchronisation versus the schedule based approach found in the basic sync (which has a minimum interval of 1 hour).
- Mirror Sync – A special “one way” synchronisation which will always keep the destination folder exactly the same as the source folder, this means if files are changed in the destination folder they will be overwritten (or deleted if new files) the next time the mirror sync job is run (this also forms the main difference form the basic sync job).
- Two-Way Sync – Similar to the mirror sync mentioned above, the Two-Way Sync will aim to keep both the target and destination folders exactly the same, only this time changes and new files will be synchronised in both directions.
* Note that all synchronisation modes are available in the Professional version of Backupper however, users of the (free) standard version will only have access to the Basic Sync tool.
Once you have chosen a synchronisation type to use, the next step will be to configure it and optionally set the schedule it should be run upon.
As can be seen above, making use of the Basic Sync option we are asked to simply add the two folders which are to be kept in synchronisation with each other. To access the advanced options for this sync job simply click on the “Options” button towards the bottom left of the screen, from here we can then set-up options such as email alerts whenever the synchronisation completes and (optionally) ask the software to verify the integrity of any files during the synchronisation process itself.
Moving on and before saving the synchronisation job, the next thing to do is (optionally) set a schedule for the synchronisation job to run on (unless, of course, you are using the real-time sync option).
As can be seen above, the scheduling service available to us in the basic sync job is basically the same as the one used to control the backups made earlier on in this review. This does give a lot of scheduling options as well as advanced options such as running whenever a USB drive is plugged in to the device, sadly however, it does still mean we are limited to running our synchronisation job a maximum of once per hour (1 hour being the minimum scheduling interval).
With everything now set-up, the sync job will now be ready to go, we can simply await the schedule to pick it up or, alternatively, it can be run manually from the main Backupper homepage.
With both the file level and image level backups now covered, in addition to the restore process and use of the built-in folder synchronisation service, we can begin looking at some of the many other features found within AOMEI Backupper, a good place to start is with the disk and partition cloning tools.
As can be seen above, we have tools for migrating a specific disk or partition to another disk (and resizing if necessary), there is also the “System Clone” option which will automatically select all elements of an active Windows system and allow them to be migrated to either a new disk drive, SSD drive or a new piece of dissimilar hardware (such as a new PC or laptop).
Use of these cloning tools is, generally speaking, very easy thanks to the very easy-to-use and understand interface supporting them within the Backupper software itself. As can be seen below, when cloning a disk we simply need to select the source and target disks and then (optionally) tell the software to perform SSD alignment or make use of “Sector by Sector” copying and leave the rest to the software to complete by Itself.
In the image above I have looked at the simple disk cloning tool, Backupper Professional also has another tool for easily migrating an entire Windows system (including all relevant partitions and disks) which is very useful when migrating to a new disk or an entirely new device.
* Note that the (free) Standard version of Backupper allows only use of the disk and partition cloning tools (including the ability to do SSD alignment when necessary). To make use of the full system cloning tool in addition to resizing partitions on the target disks, the Professional version must be used.
Moving on and another useful feature to point out is the great alerting service which AOMEI have included within all versions of Backupper (which, as can be seen below, can be configured via the main application settings page):
As you might have noticed above, one of the nice things about this service is that AOMEI provide users with access to their own email server for the sending of the alert emails (alerts such as backups completing, failing or stopping due to errors), in addition to this they make it easy to make use of your own Gmail or Hotmail accounts for sending should you so wish. This feature is particularly nice to see included, especially given that a lot of providers of perpetual (non subscription) backup software often ask their users to figure out their own SMTP settings and enter them manually before being able to make use of email alerts, well done on this front AOMEI!
And finally, another service which is connected to AOMEI Backupper (but, interestingly not included with the software by default) is the CBackup service.
CBackup appears to be a premium add-on endorsed by AOMEI themselves, one which allows access to an allocation of cloud storage provided by CBackup themselves as well as facilitating a connection to other 3rd party cloud storage providers including Dropbox and Google Drive. Whilst the free version is seemingly generous at first glance (offering 2TB of 3rd party cloud usage and 10GB of cloud storage form CBackup themselves) it is, nevertheless, still an add-on product to provide functionality which should (in my opinion at least) be built directly into the software itself (and without any restrictions when using personal cloud storage from providers such as Dropbox).
Backupper Standard vs Professional
Whilst the Standard (free) version of AOMEI Backupper does include a lot of useful functionality, the Professional version adds to this base and makes for a highly functional backup tool. Some important points on the differences between the Standard and Professional versions of Backupper include:
- Whilst both versions allows both file and image level backups to be made, the Professional version extends upon this by allowing more choice over the backup scheme, file spiting options being used as well as the ability to backup to CD/DVD.
- The Professional version allows full use of AES 192-bit encryption, a feature not available in the Standard version.
- Only the Basic Synchronisation option is available in the Standard version, the Professional version extending this to allow use of all synchronisation modes including real-time, two-way and mirror synchronisation.
- Additional restore options exist in the Professional version, these include the ability to use the universal restore component (for restoring to new or different hardware to that backed-up from) and the ability to preserve NTFS file permissions whilst restoring any files.
- Disk and partition cloning tools are available on both the Standard and Professional versions of Backupper, the Professional version extends this cloning functionality by allowing full system clones to be made alongside other advances features such as adding or removing free space to a partition during the process.
- Finally, the Professional version allows use of the command line tools alongside the pre / post action events tools (which could, for example, allow an application or batch file to be run both before or after a job has been run).
AOMEI Backupper really is a fully featured backup application and this section only serves to highlight some of the main differences between the Standard and Professional versions, you can of course download a 30 day free trial of the Professional version should you want to test drive this backup software for yourself!
AOMEI Backupper Security
One of the most important ways of protecting your backed-up data is to make use of strong file encryption, thankfully the Professional version of Backupper allows backups to be protected with secure AES 192-bit encryption.
Whilst AES 256 bit would be preferable, AES 192-bit can still offer very good security for your backups, especially when other precautions are taken (such as keeping backup media in a locked safe and only using trusted cloud providers with multi-factor authentication required for access.
Unfortunately, the Standard (free) version of AOMEI Backupper does not allow backups to be encrypted. This is disappointing to see given that a number of other free application now include AES 256-bit encryption, it will, however, not be an issue for those who have other arrangements to secure their backups or do not feel the need to make use of encryption for whatever reason.
User documentation, FAQs and tutorials for AOMEI Backupper can all be accessed via the AOMEI support portal, if you require more help then the AOMEI support team can also be contacted via email using the email addresses available in the support portal.
For more information on making a full system backup using any of the AOMEI backupper software titles, AOMEI also have a great getting started guide which, in just 5 steps, will guide you to getting your first backup underway (click here to visit the 5 step system backup guide).
Whilst 24/7 support is provided for users of the Professional version, users of the Standard version are limited to use of the website alongside support only during business hours.
AOMEI Backupper Pricing
AOMEI Backupper Standard is 100% free for personal (non-commercial) usage!
A Professional licence which allows use of many additional features found in the application is also available as are other versions for those wishing to use Backupper in a commercial setting.
- Professional (personal usage) – $39.95 / per PC (or $49.95 including lifetime upgrades)
- Workstation (commercial usage) – $49.95 / per PC (or $59.95 including lifetime upgrades)
Other, more advanced, commercial licences are also available but they fall beyond the scope of this review. More information on pricing and the lifetime upgrade option can be found on the AOMEI Website.
AOMEI Backupper FAQ
Yes, the Standard version of AOMEI Backupper is 100% free for personal (non-commercial) usage. A Professional version featuring more backup, synchronisation and disk cloning functionality is also available from $39.95 per PC.
AOMEI is a well established software company and have been publishing well known software such as Backupper since 2010. For more information on the organisation be sure to check out their company information page.
The Standard version of AOMEI Backupper does not support the encryption of backups, the Professional version (and higher) do have support for applying AES 192-bit encryption.
No, although AOMEI do offer an add-on, subscription based product called CBackup which, once installed, allows use of a quota of AOMEI cloud storage alongside the ability to make use of 3rd party cloud storage providers including Google Drive and Dropbox (a generous free account does exist, but this is still a separate subscription-based service).
AOMEI Backupper Review Summary
AOMEI Backupper stands out thanks not only to its ease of use, but also due to the many features, functions and utility tools included in this stand-alone backup software package. Features such as full system image backups, disk and partition cloning, recovery to dissimilar hardware, a recovery media builder, the ability to configure synchronisation folders and much, much more on top mean AOMEI Backupper is a valuable addition to any PC.
There are, however, a few areas in which I feel the Backupper line could be easily improved, these include the AES 192-bit encryption being upgraded to 256-bit, encryption being included in the Standard (free) version as well as cloud backup functionality being integrated directly in to the main application itself (instead of being available via a separate add-on service as it is now).
Having said this, Backupper does make both a solid free application in the Standard version and a very good, fully functional and reasonably priced purchase should you opt to upgrade to the Professional version with the free lifetime upgrades option included.
Overall, a solid choice which is fairly priced and has a lot to offer anyone looking at a tool for making both file and system image level backups of a Windows PC, well done AOMEI!