Not to negate or disparage any of the advice given here by my superiors, but I still am not sure what it is you want to do, and without a specified goal, much of what you have read on the internet has to be meaningless.
When I read these texts I think that unless and until you write down to the best of your ability what you want to do, you will be buffeted by the waves of thoughts of strangers on the web.hlewton wrote: ↑23 Sep 2022, 21:46... I do remember not being sure of what I was doing ... I find most programs assume you know what you're doing. That certainly is not the case for me. ... I saw where at least one of them did not backup Microsoft 365.
... the best Free option... ... do not need all the bells and whistles ... if "Cloning" means the same as creating an "Image" of the hard drive. ...
... the second best out there of those it tested. ... I do not want anything going to the clouds .
Consider "The best bits of Fawlty Towers" as a YouTube video. For that particular reviewer the best bits might be slapstick, whereas for me the best bits are word-play in the Spanish language.
"The best" is a totally meaningless criteria unless and until YOU (or I!) have first specified our criteria for a product.
Of course, we start off not having a clue, and the internet reviews educate us, so already you know that you have an upper limit on price (sound like fifty dollars) which means you can ignore "FREE" as a criteria. You do not need all the bells and whistles, but first define bells and whistles: Anything not mentioned specifically on MY list of features that MUST be available".
It sounds to me that the product must be able to backup Microsoft365 - whatever that means to you; since I am still learning Office 2003 I am clueless here, but then "Microsoft 365" would NOT appear on my list, would it? And, like me, you find cloud-based personal data repugnant.
As far as the terms "backup, image and clone" go, you can make your own definition; you have already discovered that they mean different things to different people.
I rely mostly on Control Panel's System restore., mainly because I am about to install a program and want to be able to roll back to 6am today if something goes wrong. I have already decided that when this Laptop fails, I will buy a new one, more RAM, the world's biggest SSD, and complain loudly about being pushed into Windows11. But then I have two older laptops that would let me limp to the internet for a couple of weeks, and I will please over a hundred people by posting a message here announcing that "I will be out of action for a month"
Here is a challenge for you: Take a half-hour and jot down, paper and pencil, exactly what you want to do, and why, and how. What is it that scares you - rationally - into wanting a "backup"?
Is your data properly backed up every night? Then you are worried about your computer and its configuration.
Are you worried about the state of your computer? Will you buy a new computer when this one crashes? If so, then comments about passwords/licenses is appropriate.
It seems strange to ask, but I think you really need to know and specify more of what YOU want than to spend time right now on what total strangers on the internet think is important for THEM!
I'm rambling, I know, but every time I embark on some project without a goal, I fail.