Backup software for every 60-90 days - Win7 64-bit

Hey guys I want to plan to do backups for offsite storage every 60-90 days fos offsite and every week for onsite for my home desktop CPU running Windows 7 64-bit I'm building this year.
I wanted to make a data backup strategy and want to plan the software and HDD needs.

I've read good and bad about RAID1. I really don't want to do a RAID1 so let's not discuss RAIDs.
I am Win7 and my girlfriend is Mac Lion OS laptop so I don't want to do NAS at all.
I am not interested in online Internet data backup services period (Carbonite, SugarSync, etc.) I work with large music and video files as well as the privacy/trust issues with online services. Moving on...

I plan to use
A 500GB-1TB SATA HDD for the C: drive OS & programs only and not store my data there.

KingWin KF-1000-BK Single bay Internal SATA Tray - Less Hot Swap Rack
with a SATA 3.5 internal HDD 2-3TB size maybe western digital caviar green
I plan on storing it offsite and think every 60-90 days would be adequate.

That said I would like to reformat my 1TB WD Caviar Black drive as a working media drive

and a new 2 TB SATA HDD (unpurchased) as storage onsite.

possibly an onsite backup being a 2 TB SATA HDD also. (for weekly backups)

What I'm more concerned with is the actual backup software. What is the most recommended and popular backup software.
I would like to backup my working files say once a week and the 60-90 day backup offsite.

An issue I have with backup software, is that it makes an image file. So, if you don't have the software, you often cannot get into the backup. I would prefer a straight up copy of the file on the backup drive.
I'm guessing the Win7 OS built-in "Backup and Restore" are awful.
I would be willing to pay for backup software if it wasn't a huge or annual cost and the key thing is being more reliable than some freeware that is very niche.
I've seen these:
Rebit software $30-50.
Cobian Backup
MozyHome Mozy 2.0 -the ability to back up to a local hard drive
Paragon HDD manager.
Macrium Reflect Free

I'm looking to figure out a backup strategy that includes the 1 TB and 2TB HDDs I will be using as well as the offsite 2-3TB HDD. That strategy will include software and the HDD and room to grow and plans for the next 5 years.
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  1. Quote:
    An issue I have with backup software, is that it makes an image file. So, if you don't have the software, you often cannot get into the backup. I would prefer a straight up copy of the file on the backup drive.

    I knew I was not the only one who wanted this! Yes, not a fan of Win7 OS Backup and Restore tried it, hated it. I've checked out many of the same software on your list in my search. For me the main drawback of most is that you need to use the software to restore.

    I used to love the Seagate Manager software (screenshots here) that came with the FreeAgent externals before but that software only works with those drives. I am looking for an alternative to Seagate Manager Backup for non Seagate drives.

    It did the basic things I am looking for:

    * Automated "manual" backup: instead of me copying and pasting each folder I want backed up, I would like the software to do this for me and I want to be able to choose which folders and/or files I would like to back up. I do not want "smart" software that reorganizes my files based on type (music, documents, pictures, etc), I like my organization just fine and want to retain that structure.

    * Incremental/differential backup: I would also like to have the software do incremental backups so that I do not have to back up every folder every week, just the folders with files that have changed. The Seagate Manager stores the backup on the external drive just as if I had copied and pasted the data myself again. In other words it creates a mirror of my data but it does not take that long on subsequent backups because it only updates the full backup folder with files and folders that have been changed. (I don't like backup programs that put incremental or differential backups in a different folder than the full backup).

    * Historical files: Every time a new backup was run on Seagate Manager Backup, if a file was changed, a copy of the older file was saved in a history folder outside of the full backup folder. It could save upt to 10 previous historical versions of each revised file. I liked this incremental backup feature very much in case I had deleted something from my PC but did not realize it until much later. I find that most backup programs create a full backup and then if you do incremental or differential backups they are placed in different folders outside the full backup folder - so that the backup folder does not end up being a mirror of your current data but rather of your initial backup. They still retain files you have now deleted on your PC in the full backup. This makes restoring your data much more confusing.

    * Compression: I do not want software that stores backups in unrecognizable compressed files, formats, archives, images.

    * Drag and drop restore that does not rely on any backup software being installed - just as if I had copied the folder manually to an external drive.

    I was using Easeus Todo Backup 2.5 pro but recently the subsequent backups started to take just as long as the initial backup which defeated the whole purpose of the software.

    The last one I tried was F Backup, as far as I can tell it does everything the Seagate Manager Backup did except it does not create Historical Files, it mirrors your current files and folders if you set it up this way:

    New Backup Job:
    a. Open Program, Under File, choose New Backup, New Backup Wizard opens, click Advanced Mode.
    b. Under General, give your backup a name.
    c. Under Destination, select a location to save the backup (usually an external hard drive)
    d. Under Sources, add the folders/files you want to back up
    e. Under Type, choose Mirror (FULL backup uses archives), CLICK Remove excluded or deleted files from backup otherwise the older backup files will be retained.
    f. Under Compression –don’t change anything, no encryption should be checked
    g. Under Advanced – don’t change anything, test after backup should be checked

    This creates your initial backup and can take some time because the software is creating a catalog to check future file changes against. The next time you run the same backup job it will mirror whatever is on your hard drive now. (Open Program, double click on job you want to run, click save and run.) This will basically mirror your hard drive but the new backup will go much faster than running full backup again.

    I would still like a software that runs faster than FBackup and saves previous or historical versions of revised files.

    I recently discovered that the same company that puts out FBackup has a paid version called Backup4all. This may be a solution. It does mirror as well as differential and incremental backups. And it seems that it may have a way of saving historical versions even via mirroring? And it seems that you can still choose not to have the backup compressed, but if you do, the compression it uses is universally accessible:
    Other backup programs will keep the resulting backup files in a proprietary format. By doing this you'll be able to restore your data only if you have their backup program installed. This is why Backup4all creates standard zip files and uses a backup catalog to keep track of new/modified files. This ensures compatibility with any other backup program or zip utility.

    If you ever come across a perfect solution since it seems we are looking for the same thing, please post!! Thanks :)

    I liked the Stuff Happens Backup and Restore Guide very much but am not brave enough to move my user profile to another drive and make a symbolic link. But there is a whole lot of useful basic info in that guide.
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