The best free backup and syncing software

We all love stuff you don't have to pay for, and fortunately, there's plenty of software out there which won't cost you a penny. Here, we're looking at the some of the best free backup utilities and syncing services out there, including some lesser known offerings you may not have heard of before (as well as some of the more obvious candidates like Dropbox). Read on for some recommendations...

This small, multi-lingual program can run locally or portably to back up or sync files you specify when you create a profile.

Dropbox provides the brain-dead simplicity to backup/sync that we all crave. Put all your files in the Dropbox folder, and all files are synced to the web and all other computers with the same account, plus they can be accessed on almost all mobile devices.

Back up your hard drive to drive images you can store elsewhere, then restore as needed from a bootable CD. That's the gist of DriveImage XML. But it does more; it lets you extract files from the image and keeps the image backups on a schedule.

The free version of iDriveSync gets you 5GB of online storage, with full sync to Windows and Mac systems, plus mobile and web access.

You only get 2GB of online storage for one PC (so there's no synchronisation), but Mozy's a proven backup system, with an easy-to-master interface.

SpiderOak provides a free account that includes 2GB of online storage. It also promises total privacy – your data is only readable by you.

The 2GB of online storage may feel skimpy and it's limited to syncing only two devices at a time, but Syncplicity throws in some interesting extras, including integration with third-party tools, such as Zoho and Scribd.

LaCie's backup/sync/share service does everything you'd expect, with 5GB free online storage and the promise of encrypted data.