Why People Choose Third-Party Backup Tool Over the Official Ones?

As we all know, Microsoft Windows has its own backup applications including Backup and Restore (B&R), File History, and OneDrive (cloud backup solution).

Yet, many users still choose to make use of a 3rd party backup software to protect their crucial data. Why? Let me explain the phenomenon and compare the non-official program (e.g. MiniTool ShadowMaker) and system built-in apps to see their differences.

MiniTool ShadowMaker VS Backup and Restore

Let’s take the latest operating system (OS) Windows 11 for example to show you the differences between Backup & Restore and MiniTool ShadowMaker.

How to Use Backup and Restore in Windows 11?

First of all, Microsoft has removed the entrance of Backup and Restore from Windows Settings in the new Windows 11. You can only access it through Control Panel. Go to the Control Panel, find Backup and Restore (Windows 7), and click to open it.

If you have not yet made any backup with Backup and Restore, you will be shown the above screen. Click on the Set up backup option on the right side to begin to create a backup with B&R. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to go on.

You will be asked to choose a location to save your backup image and select what items to back up. Also, you can set up a schedule to automatically back up the selected files in the future. Finally, click the Save settings and run back up to start the backup process.

How to Use MiniTool ShadowMaker in Windows 11

Firstly, download MiniTool ShadowMaker from its official website. Then, install and launch it on your computer. Next, it will enter its main interface.

Navigate to the Backup tab on the top menu. In the Backup tab, select the backup source and destination. It will select the related system items as the backup source by default. You can also set up a backup schedule, select a backup scheme (full, incremental, or differential backup), as well as manage backup images (via Options).

Finally, when all settings are done, click the Back up Now button to carry out the task.

Backup and Restore vs. MiniTool ShadowMaker

In general, there are 3 main differences between MiniTool ShadowMaker and Backup & Restore.

1. Schedule Settings

MiniTool ShadowMaker has more options and more detailed settings for schedule backup than Backup and Restore. Besides daily, weekly, and monthly backup frequencies, MiniTool ShadowMaker has another schedule option called On Event, which will start to back up sources when the system log on or log off.

Moreover, for daily backup, Backup and Restore only support to back up at every integer hour while MiniTool ShadowMaker allows you to start your backup at a specific minute. Or, you can choose to back up every 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 hours to get multiple backups within a single day.

For weekly and monthly backup, Backup and Restore only permit you to select a single day to conduct the backup for one time whereas MiniTool ShadowMaker enables you to select multiple days within a week or a month to back up several times within the interval. Also, you can set up an exact backup start time to the minute.

2. Backup Type

Generally, backups made by Backup and Restore are always incremental backups except for the first full backup. However, after the initial full backup, you can choose to create a full backup, incremental backup, or differential backup in the future with MiniTool ShadowMaker.

3. Backup Image Management

You can manually delete old backups to free up storage space in Backup and Restore via the Manage space option in the main UI after you complete your first backup. As for MiniTool ShadowMaker, when you choose your future backup types, you have already decided how your old backup images will be removed automatically.

Besides, you can define the image file size, compression level, comment, encryption, verification, and many other settings to the backup.

Besides the above advantages, MiniTool ShadowMaker still has many other useful features like file/folder synchronization, dissimilar hardware restoration, bootable media creation, hard drive clone, PXE boot, and so on.

Yet, Backup and Restore is more stable and completely free. It is installed together with Windows 11 and no need for extra downloading and installing.

File History VS OneDrive VS MiniTool ShadowMaker

Now, let’s see the differences between OneDrive, File History, and MiniTool ShadowMaker.

How to Use File History in Windows 11

Also, Microsoft removed the File History from the Windows Settings and you can only reach it from Control Panel.
In Control Panel, find and launch File History. File History requires another hard drive, either internal or external, to save copied files.

So, make sure you have an extra disk connected to your machine. Then, you will get the below screen.

File History will sync Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Pictures, Videos, Camera Roll, Music, etc. library folders to the selected target drive. Just click on the Turn on button to start the synchronization.

If you want to change sync source and destination, as well as more advanced options, just use the Select drive, Exclude folders, and Advanced settings in the left panel.

Especially, clicking on the Advanced settings, you will be directed to a page where you can set up a file sync schedule, maintain file copies, and manually delete file copies.

How to Use OneDrive in Windows 11

Since Microsoft has removed both Backup & Restore and File History from Windows Settings, it has added OneDrive for replacement. Just move to Settings > System > Storage > Backup options or Settings > Accounts > Windows backup to find OneDrive.

Then, click the Manage sync settings button to begin to set up your OneDrive backup. Since OneDrive can only allow you to sync files to its cloud storage, you can only specify the sync source.

And, you can select at most all three folders (Desktop, Documents, and Pictures) as sync sources. Once set up, click the Start backup to begin syncing.

Vice versa, you can set up how the online files are synced to your local machine since OneDrive is a two-way syncing app. Just right-click on the OneDrive icon in the taskbar and select Settings. Then, in the Account tab in the new popup, click Choose folders to set up.

How to Sync Files in MiniTool ShadowMaker

Similar to backing up files, just select the sync source and destination in the Sync tab. Unlike File History, you can sync source files or folders to a location on the source hard disk, and even the same folder.

Also, you can set up a schedule to automatically sync source files later just like a backup schedule. For the sync options, the settings are less. There are only file comparison methods and file filter options.

MiniTool ShadowMaker vs. File History vs. OneDrive

Let’s compare MiniTool ShadowMaker, File History, and OneDrive with the following table.

Sync Tools OneDrive File History MiniTool ShadowMaker
Sync Source
  • Local: Desktop, Documents, Pictures, screenshots, & OneDrive folder
  • External: Camera photos
  • Cloud: all files/folders in OneDrive
Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Pictures, Videos, Camera Roll, Music, etc. library folders. All files/folders that are saved on internal and external disks. 
Sync Destination
  • OneDrive cloud
  • OneDrive folder on local PC
Another different hard drive from the source disk.  The source disk or another drive. 
Sync Type Two-way sync One-way sync One-way sync
Sync Schedule Real-time
  • Every 10 minutes
  • Every 15 minutes
  • Every 20 minutes
  • Every 30 minutes
  • Every hour (default)
  • Every 3 hours
  • Every 6 hours
  • Every 12 hours
  • Daily
  • Every 1 hour
  • Every 2 hours
  • Every 3 hours
  • Every 4 hours
  • Every 6 hours
  • Every 8 hours
  • Daily at a specific time
  • Weekly at a specific time
  • Monthly at a specific time
  • On system log on/off

Tip: For the sync schedule of MiniTool ShadowMaker, its weekly and monthly sync allow you to select multiple days to carry out the sync task several times within a week or month.

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