Start the year as you mean to continue and back up your PC

There is no excuse for not backing your PC's disk drive

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a backup utility for your Windows PC and there are many to choose from. MiniTool ShadowMaker is a new one that is worth considering.

Backing up your PC's disk drive is an essential task. Here is a great utility to enable you to back up disks and partitions.

I recently looked at EaseUS Todo Backup Home and it is excellent, but if you have not yet got around to installing it, ShadowMaker is a slightly simpler backup utility from MiniTool that also does a great job of backing up the disk. It has fewer features, but is free.

Get ShadowMaker from the MiniTool website.

Back up your PC

When MiniTool ShadowMaker is first run, the main screen prompts you to set up a backup job.

MiniTool ShadowMaker main screen

It automatically selects the source disk and partitions to back up and the destination disk to save them to. It made good choices when I tried it and it selected the PC’s internal disk as the source and a USB drive as the destination.

Both the source and destination can be changed if necessary, but it will probably be fine. All that remains is to click the Back up Now button to start the job.

It runs in the background and you can carry on working as it backs up. The PC is slower when it is running, but is still usable. It could take a couple of hours or more to complete depending on the speed of your PC and the size of the disk to back up.

Back up the PC with MiniTool Shadowmaker

There is an option to back up later if you don’t want to do it right now, which saves the backup job so it can be run later.

Backup options

ShadowMaker uses sensible defaults and you can start your first backup within a few seconds of running the software for the first time. However, there are plenty of options to explore if you are feeling adventurous.

The Options button enables the settings to be configured. For example, only used sectors on the disk are backed up, but if you prefer, all the sectors can be copied.

The backups can be compressed to save space and there is none, medium and high compression options. Medium is the default.

The backup can be password protected for security and there is a choice of two encryption methods. The computer can automatically be shut down when the backup is complete.

Backups can be manually run, but as is usual with this type of software, jobs can be scheduled to run automatically. A full backup is required initially, but once done, you can choose from differential and incremental backups.

Both of these only back up the changed files and so they run quickly and use much less space on the target disk.

ShadowMaker tools

A collection of tools are provided and the first one you will want to use is the Media Builder. This enables a bootable USB flash memory stick or CD/DVD to be created.

MiniTool ShadowMaker tools

This is used to start the computer and restore the backup if a serious disk problem prevents the PC from being started normally.

MiniTool ShadowMaker boot media creator

You can also mount and dismount backups, browse for files, and clone disks.

Summing up

If you need to back up the whole disk or selected partitions then MiniTool ShadowMaker is a useful free tool that gets the job done with the minimum of fuss.

It has limitations and it cannot perform custom backups of individual folders and files for example. It only offers to back up a whole disk or partition and everything on it.

This is actually the best option for many people anyway because it protects against complete disk failure and every file is backed up, so you should never lose any.

Software: ShadowMaker
Price: Free
By: MiniTool
Size: 69MB (installer)
Windows: 7, 8, 10
Verdict: A great free utility for creating whole disk backups.

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