Veeam is a well known name in the enterprise IT world, one which has for a long time been producing stable and reliable backup software used by some of the worlds biggest organisations to help keep their important data safe.
Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows Free is a free backup software offering from Veeam, one which is suitable for both home and small business users who are looking for a basic yet free to use tool for keeping their important devices backed-up and their data safe.
Despite being free, Veeam’s backup technology is proven as reliable and effective and I’m keen to see both how this tool performs and what it can offer to home or small business users who would otherwise be outside of Veeam’s usual enterprise orientated backup software ecosystem.
With all of this being said, let’s go and see what this free backup software form Veeam can do!
- Good backup software with a solid reputation
- Support for locally attached media and network storage
- Also allows use of Microsoft OneDrive for cloud based backups
- Both File level and full system image backups supported
- Automated scheduled backups support (but only daily or longer)
- Bootable recovery media builder
- Full AES 256-bit encryption and file compression support
- Built-in CryptoLocker ransomware protection
- Free edition supports only a single backup set
- 100% Free to use (for both personal and commercial use)
Veeam Agent Usability
In this section of this review I will be looking at the free Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows in more detail, this includes making use of the backup functionality itself in more detail as well as investigating how easy it is obtain and get installed on a Windows PC.
Installing Veeam Agent
Installing the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows starts off at the Veeam website where the software installer can be downloaded for free, potential users of the software must already have (and be logged into) a free Veeam account or, if necessary, register for a new one in order to download the software.
This download itself totalled 338MB on the day of my testing meaning it is already on the larger side of most other backup software installers available, it is also delivered as a ZIP file meaning this must also be unzipped before the installer can finally be set running.
Once running, however, the installation is fairly straight forwards and only takes a few moments to complete, towards the end of the process Veeam also start guiding their users towards some important backup related tasks including being prompted to insert a backup target (e.g. a USB drive) and creating some bootable recovery media (of which both can be skipped for now).
At this point the installation will be complete and we can start using Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows, it is also important to note that as well as a management console (available via the system toolbar), Veeam have split this application into several smaller tools each performing specified tasks and available individually via the Windows start menu.
As can be seen above, we can make use of the “Configure Backup” tool to actually make our new backup set in the same way as we can use the “Create Recovery Media” tool to create a bootable CD/DVD or USB flash drive for restoring an un-bootable PC.
In the next section we will make use of this “Configure Backup” tool in more detail and look at the steps involved in creating a backup using Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows.
Making File Backups
Creating our first backup set within Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows begins on the Windows Start menu where we can open up the “Configure Backup” tool, a wizard style tool which helps in guiding Veeam users through the process of getting their first backup configured.
As can be seen above, after being asked to name our new backup set on the first page of this wizard, the second page gives us the choice of making either a file-level backup, a system image backup (of the entire PC) or, alternatively, a backup of an entire partition when applicable. In this section of this review I will be looking at the file-level backup which allows a specified sub-section of files to be included in the backup set.
* Full system image backups are a great way of ensuring everything is backed up on your PC, this includes all user data and files alongside any installed applications, their settings and the operating system itself. Should you ever suffer form a hardware failure (e.g. a disk failure), a malware issue or similar, then this type of backup can make for one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting everything resorted again.
Moving on and the next page of the wizard asks us to select these files and folders to be included in our new backup set, this can be done via the file picking tool for specified files and folders or by simply clicking either of the “Operating System” or “Personal Files” buttons to make the selecting of all important documents easy. In addition to making these selections (via the “Advanced” button) we can also set file include / exclude filters to be applied to our backup set, for example, we could tell the backup to automatically exclude all ISO files in order to help reduce the size of the backup set further.
Moving on and the next page of the Wizard then asks us to select the storage target for our new backup set, as can be seen below this can be on local storage (including USB / external hard drives), a shared (network) folder, on Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage on in a Veeam backup repository (an option probably more suited to business / commercial Veeam users). Towards the bottom of this screen and we can also set how long any old backups are to be kept for in days (effectively allowing us to specify our own historic versioning at this point).
Before moving on, the scheduling for this backup set it is worth quickly looking at via the “Advanced” button found towards the bottom right of the storage target page, from here we can set some other useful features for our backup including full AES 256-bit encryption, file compression and the turning on of automatic backup maintenance / verification tools which run on their own schedule and help make sure any backed-up data is kept safe and corruption free.
* It is always advisable to encrypt you backups whenever possible, thankfully by including full AES 256-bit encryption technology within this free backup tool, Veeam have made this task simple and straightforward. AES 256-bit encryption is also considered very secure meaning if your backup storage device (e.g. a USB flash drive) ever becomes lost you data will remain safe (although be careful to remember such a password as Veeam wont be able to reset this password should you forget it).
Next, before finalising our our new backup set, we get to (optionally) set a schedule for it thus allowing the backup to be run automatically in the background. As can be seen below, we have the option to run the backup every day / week / month, set the time at which it will run as well as some other scheduling related tasks including turning off the PC after a backup is completed (should this be of interest to you).
Whilst any backup set made within Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows can be run manually at any time via the management console, it is slightly disappointing to see the automatic scheduling tool being able to run only once per day on its most frequent setting (potentially of little use to those who do a lot of work throughout any give day).
And with that our new backup set is completed, in the next section of this review we will look at monitoring and manually running this backup set form the Veeam Agent for Windows console before looking at restoring files a little later on.
With our initial backup set now completed, we now have the option of running it manually (in addition to it been run via the scheduling system) as well as the ability to track and monitor any backups which have already been run. All of this can be handled via the main Veeam agent console, a tool which is accessible via the Windows start menu as can be seen below:
As can be seen below, once the main Veeam Agent console is open it will allow us to see, at a glance, both the time of the last backup as well as its size thanks to the green bars in the main part or the window (the height of the bar representing the size of the backup as per the scale on the left).
Clicking onto any of these green bars we can then get more details of the backup set itself (a backup report, of sorts), this includes the total size of the files included and a time-stamped log of what happened at each stage of the backup (potentially very useful for diagnosing backup problems, e.g. slow backups).
* NB – Within this free version of Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows we can only have a single backup set running at any one time, to run multiple sets would require premium licencing from Veeam.
Running a backup manually is very convenient and simply requires pressing the “Backup Now” button found on the top toolbar, the main application settings page (found via the menu on the top left) also brings additional functionality and allows, amongst other things, an option for configuring email alerts and limiting the amount of network bandwidth used by the application:
With the backup set configured and running as required, we can now begin looking at how to make use of the Veeam Agent for restoring any previously backed-up files. This process begins by opening the designated restore tool from the Windows start menu as can be seen below:
Once in the File Level Restore tool (there is another restore tool for image based restores) we can begin the restore process running, this involves first selecting the correct backup version form the list of available versions as can be seen below:
* NB – If you want to pick a specific historic version of a file then it is important to select the correct historic version using this page as is seen above. If you just want to recover, say, an antecedently deleted file then simply selecting the latest version should probably suffice when using this page.
With the correct file selected, we will next see a summary of the restore operation before being taken to the “Backup Browser” tool where we can browse the contents of the backup itself.
As can be seen above, we can make use of the Backup Browser tool to select the specified files and folders we wish to recover. Once these files have been located using this browser they can be selected and then, via the right-click context menu, we are given the choice to recover them to the original location (with an option to overwrite originals) as well as copy them to a secondary location thus preserving the original location).
* NB – Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows also gives us the option to preserve any Windows file permissions and ownership properties, very useful if working in a business environment where such settings might be important!
Full Disk Image Backups
Finally, in the usability section of this review, I will be looking a little deeper into the image backup functionality of Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows. This can be configured using the same backup wizard as for making a file-level backup albeit when opting to make a full system image backup we must tell the software so on the “Backup Mode” page like below:
* NB – as per the above image, when creating full system image backups, Veeam also allows us to include any currently attached external USB drives in the backup set.
Selecting the destination and devices for storing this system image backup on works in much the same as it did for the file-level backup looked at earlier on, as does the scheduling settings and the advanced options which allow optionally compressing the backup and protecting it with AES 256-bit encryption.
After all of these considerations have been taken into account the image level backup can be run and monitored in much the same was as the file backup was earlier on, the main exception being that now we have an image backup set we have the option to restore the entire PC to an earlier state as well as make use of the bootable recovery media when necessary.
Bootable Recovery Media
As was mentioned above, whenever making use of the full system image option, we have the ability to recover our PC even if the machine itself doest boot into Windows or is subject to hardware failure of some kind (e.g. replacing the hard drive).
As can be seen above, via the Veeam entry in the Windows start menu we can build recovery media suitable for either a USB flash drive or a CD/DVD disc which can be used to boot into and then recover a non-working PC form (using the image backup set).
As can be seen above, creating such recovery media means using a wizard style interface similar to that used when creating our backup set earlier on. This tool does require the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) to function and you will be warned about this if you don’t yet have this component installed on your PC (you will need access to the Windows ADK or some Windows installation media in the process of installing this).
* Note that we also have the option to include the decryption key for our backup set on the recovery media, this can, of course, make recovering easier but you should be careful to safely store your recovery disk if you make use of this option.
Finally, with everything set-up, the recovery media can be written to a compatible and bootable device or, alternatively, created as an ISO image file and made use of whenever needed.
Veeam Agent for Windows Security
One of the most important methods for securing a backup set involves making use of strong encryption for the data whilst it is stored on on the backup target media (be it an external hard drive, USB flash drive etc.).
Thankfully, Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows allows users to make use of strong AES 256-bit encryption on both file-level and full system image backups. AES 256-bit encryption is considered a very secure option across the whole backup industry and, as such, if making use of such encryption then make sure you don’t forget your password as Veeam themselves wont be able to re-set it for you if you do (and this could lead to data loss).
As an industry leading enterprise backup provider, Veeam naturally have a good support website with access to lots of documentation, knowledge base articles and even a user support forum.
Whilst Veeam do provide very high levels of service on their paid-for products, the free Veeam Agent for Windows is limited to forum and email support only (no phone support), furthermore, this support is delivered on a best effort basis depending upon support staff availability.
Veeam Agent Pricing
Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows is 100% free to use for both personal and business use!
Veeam Agent FAQ
Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows is a free to use backup client capable of making both file level and full system image backups of Windows PCs.
Yes, not only is Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows fre for personal use but for business use cases also. Should you be using this software for business then Veeam do have premium versions with enhanced support levels also available.
Yes, Veeam Agent for Windows allows users to apply AES 256-bit encryption to any backups made with the software.
Veeam Agent Review Summary
One of the biggest advantages of Veeam Agent is that it is built and supported by Veeam, a company with a long standing record of producing enterprise grade backup software and support for some the worlds leading organisations!
Focusing on the backup software itself and what we see is a very reasonable piece of free backup backup software which is more than capable of maintaining a basic backup schedule for those happy to make use of a network share or external hard drive for backing-up no more than once per day (the most frequent interval supported by the Veeam free agent software). Whilst the software does support both full system image and file-level backups being made, one of the biggest limitations of the Veeam Agent is that it only supports a single backup set being in use at any given time, this means in reality we only have the choice of a full system image backup or a file level backup at any given time!
With the scheduling and single backup set limitations aside, as a free piece of software Veeam Agent is still impressive and offers users the use of full AES 256-bit encryption and compression alongside the ability to have backups automatically verified and checked for consistency thus helping to keep data safe. Add in the support for cloud backups to Microsoft OneDrive, built-in Cyberlocker protection and the well designed, easy to use management console and Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows is a solid free piece of backup software.
Ideal for those with fairly basic backup needs who want a free piece of software form a trusted developer, good work Veeam!