It’s one of the outstanding truisms of computing that backup seems an unnecessary faff – until your hard disk crashes and you lose precious data. Paragon Backup & Recovery 12 Home aims to make it less of a chore with a dedicated application covering both file and sector backup and restore. See all software reviews.
Sector backup copies the whole of a working partition to another drive in a self-contained file which can be used to restore a PC, should its hard drive die. The copy can be placed on a local drive – other than the one you’re backing up, of course – an external drive or memory stick, a network drive or an ftp server. See Group test: what's the best backup software?
File backup is for data files, such as documents, audio tracks, photos and videos.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 12 Home offers two modes of setting up and controlling backups: Express and Advanced views. Things are unnecessarily confusing, though, because there are so many ways of getting at everything. For example, the Smart Backup Wizard is available from the Express menu and from the menu bar, button bar and side panel in Advanced mode.
Click on any of the Help links and you’re told to press F1 for help. This intermediate step is pointless, as is the message which explains that screenshots in the manual may be different from what the software shows, because the ‘company is constantly releasing new versions’. Those new versions should include manual updates.
Setting up a backup job with the Wizard takes eight separate screens, but even then it’s only a ‘virtual job’ and needs to be specifically run and confirmed; two more unnecessary steps.
It may be a good approach for Paragon’s partition management software, where data could be accidentally destroyed, but backup is usually a non-destructive process, so shouldn’t need this level of protection.
Creating a sector backup of the 50GB partition we normally use for running AV scans took 26 minutes; identical to the program’s main competitor, Acronis True Image 2013.
Backing up the same data as files took 1 hour 35 minutes and the program refused to let us minimise it while the job ran. There’s a simple scheduler, but this doesn’t include any control of the space or number of backups. True Image lets you roll the archives, deleting old ones as new are created, so you don’t fill your archive disk.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 12 Home offers a wide range of backup variations, including incremental, differential and, new to this version, incremental backup to a sector image. This means you can add just the new files you’ve created since the last backup, to an existing sector-based archive. This is quicker and saves space over a file backup, but is something True Image has been able to do for a while.
Although the program can back up to an FTP server, there’s no specific support for services like Dropbox and no online storage from Paragon, even as an option. What you do get is Windows 8 compatibility and drive copy, useful when migrating a hard drive or upgrading a PC.