Back up falls into two distinct categories: backing up files, so your personal information is protected, and backing up the system, so your PC is protected. Most new back-up utilities cover both, and this is the case with Paragon Backup & Recovery 11. Paragon has made a system backup utility for many years but the last couple of versions have included file backup and scheduling, too.
The control screen of Paragon Backup & Recovery 11 looks more like Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro, of which it's a cut-down version. This can look a little daunting at first, but the main tabbed panel is pretty straightforward, offering views of the selected drive, scheduled backups, archives already created and the help system.
Help text could use proofing by a native English speaker, as in places it obscures as much as explains, but it does cover all of Paragon Backup & Recovery 11's many facets, so it's worth persevering with.
To simplify backup creation, which can be quite a complex process, Paragon has embedded in Backup & Recovery 11 a comprehensive set of Wizards, which pop up automatically for many of day-to-day tasks. Setting up a backup is simply a question of selecting what to back up (whole partition, media, documents, email), where to back them up (local, network or online drive) and when to do it (manually or scheduled).
Although backups are combined and compressed into a single backup archive, you can examine the folder tree within it and recover individual files easily. You don't have to recover the whole archive. Backing up a 30GB system partition with Paragon Backup & Recovery 11 took 35 minutes, around twice as long as Acronis True Image, the market leader.
During this process, the progress bar flicked up from 3 minutes or so to 6 hours plus part way through, so wasn't much use as a measure. The backup was performed from within Windows, though and can be performed in the background, which is more convenient than having to use a separate Linux environment in idle time.
Key new features of version 11 are support for Solid State Drives, increasingly found in portable PCs of various shades and in some gaming machines, and the ability to work with drives of over 2TB, which is likely to be more important in machines working with a lot of media, particularly video. Backup & Recovery 11 uses the WinPE 3.0 recovery environment, based on the Windows 7 kernel, so when running from the program's recovery disk, you have a very similar interface to Windows' own.
This isn't just about aesthetics, as it also means the program is generally better at working with the hardware it's likely to find in a modern PC.
Paragon includes its Adaptive Restore 3.0 utility in this version, so it should be better at restoring a Windows system to a different machine from the one the backup was made on. There's quite a web of qualification to this process, though, as you have to have a retail version of Windows, where the licence permits reinstallation from one machine to another, and to be able to show Adaptive Restore where it can find the necessary hardware drivers for the new installation.
This is a well structured backup utility, which covers the needs of most typical home customers. It can schedule backups of all important files and partitions and is happy to store them locally, on network or online. Backups can be restored to dissimilar hardware, though it has to be to a Windows system and within the terms of your Windows licence. At £30, Backup and Recovery 11 looks pricey as a single PC product, when Acronis’ 3 PC pack is £47.