In our experience free backup tools often have annoying restrictions, especially when they come from commercial companies who really want you to upgrade. Paragon Backup and Recovery 2013 Free is an exception, though: the program comes packed with functions and features, more than enough to satisfy the demands of many PC users.
After choosing the drive you'd like to back up, and the archive destination (which can be a local or network drive, CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs), for instance, there are all kinds of options on offer. So you can choose to exclude particular file types from the backup in a click or two; set your archive compression level; password-protect your backup for security; set up CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray disc burning options, and more.
A comprehensive scheduler means your backup job can be automatically run at system startup, logon, daily, weekly or monthly.
Switch to the Advanced Mode and you'll find even more options, including the ability to create differential backups of your drive, as well as a useful set of partitioning tools (there's everything you need to create, format, move, resize, hide, unhide, delete and otherwise organise your partitions).
None of this gets in your way, though - in fact you don't even get to see most of these options unless you go looking. If you're happy with the default settings then a helpful wizard will walk you through the process of setting up a backup job with the absolute minimum of hassle.
And restoration is just as straightforward. It's easy to restore anything from a single file within your backup to an entire image, and the program's Recovery Builder helps you build a bootable recovery disc so you'll be able to restore your backups even if your PC is corrupted and won't boot.
Of course it can only do this if you've remembered to create the disc in advance, though, so make that the very first task you carry out with Backup & Recovery 2013 Free: open the Advanced interface, click Tools > Recovery Media Builder, follow the instructions, and you'll soon be protected against data disasters.
The latest 2013 edition supports Windows 8 and adds Storage Spaces support.
How To Get Your Serial Code
Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free requires registering before you'll be able to receive the product key and serial number necessary to get it running. Nothing too onerous: just click the Registration button during installation and enter your name, country and email address, and you'll be sent the details via email within a few moments.