Why are there 4 different windows backup tools?

I do not understand how any mere mortal has any idea what data protection backup tool to pick or how to balance the risks. The Windows backup/data protection story is a sorry mess. Windows 11 and 10 have at least 4 different ways to protect or backup your files. Who thought this was a good idea? Why isn't there a Microsoft-provided capabilities matrix? I understand that these are legacy but someone should have at least pulled this stuff together and put a pretty cover page on it.

Some of these are traditional backup tools.  Others are network drives or network drive mirrors where files in the mirror are deleted when you delete the file locally.  This can leave you one action away from losing data depending on how the trash folder operates.

A backup is an off-drive copy of your data that can be recovered when your hard drive goes bad, a machine is damaged/stolen or you accidentally delete a file.  Backups are usually saved on network shares, cloud drives, or removable media. 


This is just a summary of the available tools.  I have no real details about their strengths or weaknesses are relative to each other.

Windows Backup

This backs files in the cloud. Multiple machines can be backed up to a single cloud. You can recover files from the cloud.

I have no idea what the backup strategy is, full, incremental, rolling, single-shot, etc.


One Drive Sync and Backup

OneDrive can save your local files in the cloud.  It is a mirror rather than a backup. The backup reflects the files since the last sync and is overwritten as part of the sync process.  If you delete a file on your machine then it is deleted from the cloud.  There is a trashcan but the data is gone after some time, I believe it is 30 days.

One drive also hacks your explorer links.  Your Documents folder is moved from being local to being a replicated one-drive directory with the same name.  It is really hard to undo this replication and get your files back in their original director.  I'm happy to have someone prove me wrong.


Backup and Restore Win 7

This tool backups up to on-prem storage, drives, NAS, etc.  I think I have used this with SD cards.

I have no idea when to use this.  The control panel interface tells me this is deprecated and on life support.

One upside of this is that you can make a system image.


File History

This is a file system-based tool.  It can be used to keep versions and file history on an on-prem storage device like a drive, SD card, or NAS device.

I have no idea when to use this.   The control panel interface tells me this is deprecated and on life support.

In the past, I have used this to back up to my local NAS.

Other Packages

There are plenty of other options. I've used both of these with good success.


This tool creates AES-encrypted backups and stores them on a variety of cloud platforms.  I've used this tool for years for file-based backups. Duplicati Web Site  Duplicati spins up a web server and provides a web interface. Duplicati supports the following backends.
  • Local folder or drive
  • FTP
  • FTP (Alternative)
  • OpenStack Object Storage / Swift
  • S3 Compatible
  • SFTP (SSH)
  • WebDAV
  • Azure blob
  • B2 Cloud Storage
  • Box.com
  • Dropbox
  • Google Cloud Storage
  • Google Drive
  • Jottacloud
  • Mega.nz
  • Microsoft Office 365 Group (Microsoft Graph API)
  • Microsoft SharePoint v2 (Microsoft Graph API)
  • Microsoft SharePoint (Microsoft.SharePoint.Client API)
  • Microsoft OneDrive v2 (Microsoft Graph API)
  • Microsoft OneDrive (LiveConnect API)
  • Microsoft OneDrive for Business (Microsoft.SharePoint.Client API)
  • Rackspace Cloudfiles
  • Rclone
  • Sia Decentralized Cloud
  • Tahoe-LAFS
  • Storj (ex Tardigrade) Decentralized Cloud Storage
  • Tencent COS

Acronis True Image

I have legacy licenses of this floating and still use it on critical machines. to create disk images or to do c:/ backups. Acronis True Image website.


Revision History 

Created 2024 04


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