Save Your Bacon With Acronis True Image Backup

Category: Backup

One of the most important tips I can offer any computer user is this... sooner or later, something terrible will happen to your hard drive. But if you have a backup, there's really nothing to worry about. For years, I've used Acronis True Image to backup and restore my own hard drive. Here's my review of the latest version, and some alternatives you should know about...

Review: Acronis True Image 2013

Among backup/restore software packages, Acronis True Image ranks near the top in terms of user-friendliness, versatility, and reliability. The latest Acronis True Image adds an optional cloud-storage service, file synchronization with mobile devices, and Windows 8 compatibility.

Any type of backup task seems to be possible with Acronis True Image. You can select individual files and folders for backup by right-clicking them in Windows Explorer, for instance. Full disk images and partition images can be configured, too. You can also sync folders on your computer, to a laptop, network drive, external drive, mobile phone or tablet.

A host of configuration options lets you set up any scheduled backup tasks (partial, full, differential, incremental). New or changed files can by monitored and backed up every day, or even every few minutes, if you wish. Other options include version control, compression ratios, encryption, and more. You can also schedule data validation at specified intervals rather than validating data every time it is backed up, a great time-saver.

Backups can be burned to optical media, USB flash drives, or external hard drives; uploaded to an FTP server or, for an extra fee, to an online storage locker at Acronis True Image Online. Acronis gives you 5GB free online storage for one year. After that, it costs $10/year. For 50GB, the cost is $30/year. Bump up to 250GB for $50/year.

You can limit the amount of bandwidth that Acronis True Image uses, so it doesn't bog down other online tasks too much while doing its thing. Making a backup to an external hard drive that sites next to your computer is an excellent idea. If your hard drive fails, you can install a new one and restore everything from the backup drive. But what if your backup is destroyed by fire, flood or some other disaster? That's why I recommend doing BOTH local and online backups. Acronis has that covered with the FTP and cloud options.

Recovery options are also versatile. You can restore backups in full or partially, from the Acronis True Image interface, via a boot disk, or even from the Windows Startup Recovery Manager. Just press F11 during PC startup to access the Recovery Manager module. Backups come in handy when your hard drive fails, but if you don't need to restore the entire disk, Acronis will let you grab the most recent backup of a single file and restore it to your hard drive.

If you're not convinced that you should have a backup plan, see my story How I Got Hacked... And Why You MUST Have a Backup! (Spoiler: Evil Hackers, the Blue Screen of Death, a little Back to the Future, and the good guys win.)

If you find all of these options bewildering, Acronis True Image also offers a simplified backup method. Just click "Backup the System" and it will select source drives for you. If you are satisfied with the default settings, all you have to do is select a destination and click "Backup Now."

My Backup Strategy

My personal backup strategy is to make a full backup (also called a drive image) every Sunday morning at 2AM. I supplement that with daily differential (incremental) backups to catch any new or changed files. It's all scheduled and done automatically with Acronis, of course. I take that one step further, by using Iomega Automatic Backup to keep three revisions of files in certain folders. This allows me to recover from the occasional "oops" where I accidentally update a file with the wrong data, or save to an existing file when I really wanted to keep the old one and save to a new file. And because I subscribe to the "Backup Your Backup" philosophy, I also upload my backup image files to an offsite server with CrashPlan.

A couple of caveats on the above... If all you do is make a local backup to a CD, flash drive or external hard drive (even a partial backup of selected files that are important to you) then you're way ahead of most people in terms of protecting yourself from data loss. I do strongly recommend a full image backup with daily incrementals, though. For most people, my extra step of keeping multiple revisions will be overkill. And kudos to you for backing up your files offsite. For historical reasons, I use separate utilities for those last two steps, but the latest version of Acronis can do all that if you like. Oh, and if you want disclosure, I don't get paid for recommending Acronis. I've used it since 2005 and I like it, so I recommend it. Ditto for the Iomega and Crashplan software.

Backups for Mobile Users, and Acronis Alternatives

For those with mobile gadgets, the ability to sync data with Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices is the most significant new feature in Acronis True Image. It requires the extra expense of Acronis True Image Online. Early reviews of Acronis 2013 found that syncing was a bit buggy and unreliable on some devices. I have not tried the 2014 version, but hopefully those issues with mobile devices are resolved.

If you don't need all the bells and whistles offered by Acronis, there are some free backup/restore programs that may get the job done for you. And don't forget about online backup services, which can be useful as a primary or secondary backup. See my articles, Free Backup Software and Carbonite, Mozy or CrashPlan? for more on these and other backup solutions.

Do YOU have a backup plan? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Save Your Bacon With Acronis True Image Backup"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Nunna
25 Sep 2012

I've used Acronis for several years, and more than once it has saved me from a hard drive disaster. I've also used it to make an image and then restore it to an SSD drive.


Posted by:

Bob Curmudgeon
25 Sep 2012

Yo...CNN was reporting today that due to the country's drought, Midwest crops like corn etc. which make up feed for farm animals like pigs, will suffer in increasing supply this year and next which will drive up the cost of Bacon. Obviously, one needs to assess one's purchasing strategies!!!!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Corn is in almost everything now. If you're eating something you didn't grow yourself, it's probably got High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. Bleah.


Posted by:

Nezzar
25 Sep 2012

Bob, I am using the System Image that comes with Windows 7 as my primary back-up system for my computer's hard drive and the System Image is saved to an external hard drive. My photos are stored on a separate external hard drive using Picasa's back-up system; plus, the photos are stored in Picasa online. Finally, my documents are backed-up to a third external hard drive, and the most important documents are on Skydrive.
So,do I need Acronis? I am assuming that the System Image stored on the external drive would restore my system, and I have the photos and documents on other external drives if the System Image doesn't completely do the job. Am I right?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like you have the bases covered. Unless your external drives are destroyed in fire, flood, etc.


Posted by:

Mark
25 Sep 2012

I agree with the others who have commented about reliability issues. Seems that the last stable version of Acronis True Image was 2010. Like you, I perform a disk image several times a week on my production server. I've used a product for years named CASPER (www.fssdev.com). It's been very reliable and is relatively inexpensive. I use this because I can schedule the drive imaging process. Many others do not have a scheduling function.


Posted by:

KRS
25 Sep 2012

Win7 System Image caused a disaster for me. I had a major crash that required reinstallation of Win7 from the recovery segment of the hard drive, wiping out the directories and files. When I tried to restore, System Image Recovery rejected all four images I had made (on a separate hard drive). I eventually got my files back using MiniTool Power Data Recovery, but they were named file1.doc through file5534.doc, plus well over 10,000 image files. I've spent the last month renaming and organizing them, a major PITA.

A friend who's an IT professional recommends the paid version of Macrium Reflect. Does anyone have experience or comments on it?


Posted by:

Salman Khan
25 Sep 2012

I agree Bob. I use Acronis as well and currently get by doing imaging of my c drive.

I havent had the need to restore yet....but hopefully that is truly when Acronis will help me out.


Posted by:

Des M
25 Sep 2012

Have used Acronis True Image since 2009. Great stuff until the 2012 version which turned into a total disaster. (See the Acronis forums for more information). Support is VERY mediocre and limited to 30 days. Went back to the 2011 version and have no intention of wasting more cash and major frustration on a 2013 edition.


Posted by:

Bob Cole
25 Sep 2012

Bob, Enjoy your work. Is there any program out there that backs up the entire hard drive including programs as well as files? I've read about trying to restore back-ups to a different machine, clean re-install, etc. If you have to restore a back up to the same machine after a problem and the files are the only things backed up? Sorry if this is something you've answered a hundred times already.
"Thanks"


Posted by:

David
25 Sep 2012

I used Acronis for a number of years, but they have raised their prices and now you must "activate" the program. Because of this, I now use Easeus Todo Backup. It does most everything Acronis does, and it is FREE. Also it does not have to be "activated". I hate having to jump through hoops after I paid my $.


Posted by:

Terry
26 Sep 2012

Hi Bob,
What about us Mac users?


Posted by:

paleolith
26 Sep 2012

Keep it simple and cheap.

Do not waste your money on Ghost or Acronis. One should use the free versions of either Paragon, Easeus, or Macrium for images. Do not perform incremental image backups: they are unreliable; create only full images. You only need a few image backups for the inevitable failure of Windows or the hard drive. Check the emergency CD and confirm that it can find your external USB hard drive (do not store your data in cyberspace) and the image file you will need when disaster strikes.

Duplicates of recovery discs should be made. You did burn recovery discs didn't you?

I use Back4sure and Freefilesync for file backups. They are both simple and free. They have worked flawlessly for me.

With your baseline image backup, your file backup, and your recovery DVDs, you should be all set except for drivers. Doubledriver is superb for this.

That is all you need to do. If you are paranoid, as I am, you can copy your backups to a second USB drive using Freefilesync. Now you have double coverage in case one of your USB backup disks fails. Remember, hard drives will fail. The question is when, not if.


Posted by:

Steve Zimmett
26 Sep 2012

Got this from thetop10bestonlinebackup.com
Acronis True Image:Summary:

The basics are there, but it will take a lot of improvements to make this product a contender in what is a highly competitive market.
Ease Of Use:

Acronis Online is easy to install and the user interface is smooth, simple and familiar. The Set and Forget process is straight forward meaning that if nothing else your files will be effortlessly backed up.
Customer Support:

I genuinely think that Acronis True Image think that by filling their customer support page with endless tabs, options and FAQ they are doing you a favour. They aren’t. Their system is cluttered, time consuming and ultimately unhelpful. There is no telephone support for technical support or customer care and they estimate a 3 day turn around on email help. When compared other providers in the market, these times and provisions just don’t cut it.


Posted by:

Don DesChamps
26 Sep 2012

I have used Acronis for quite a while. It saved my bacon a few times! Ran into serious problems with 2011 and got no real support. Tried out a few others, but pursued Acronis at the VP level and they responded by upgrading me to 2012 which has done the job. 2013, I don't know if I'll upgrade or not. What more would it give me over 2012?


Posted by:

Ken
26 Sep 2012

I've been using Mac Reflect for system images. Only takes 20 minutes to backup 68 gigs. I also use Genie Timeline free to backup files and folders. It auto backs up every eight hours. Skydrive is a great cloud based backup option, I couldn't do without.


Posted by:

Luke
27 Sep 2012

StorageCraft's ShadowProtect stacks up much better in the estimations of many administrators using the SMB versions. The desktop version is supposed to be better and more reliable than Acronis too, from what I've heard.


Posted by:

Roger Forsythe
28 Sep 2012

WOW I guess this surely opened up a can of worms! At least it forumed options for better choices, of which seems to be the case.


Posted by:

Charles Myers
28 Sep 2012

Bob,
A backup last Monday "failed" according to Acronis, though 2 validates say the backup to be OK. Log shows corrupt partition 0-0, all else OK. What is partition 0-0? Google has been no help, and can I trust a restore from that backup?
I have used Acronis since version 11 and have had several successful restores or new disk setups. Thank you for this article. Using 2012PP version


Posted by:

Sven Van de Velde
30 Sep 2012

Acronis True Image 2013 is simply said, a very unstable software! Read their forums before considering to buy this software!

Pros

- All kinds of backup types in one suite.
- User interface looks nice.

Cons

- Non-Stop backup failing on my work PC (have a running support ticket, they
need to revise their software...)
- Non-Stop backup service crashing on my Media PC. Cannot recover from crash in any means.
- Backups suddenly dissapearing from the explorer list.
- NAS support is obscure. Limit amount of NAS'ses are supported. Why?

Summary

I am using the software now for the last month. I am an existing client of Acronis, owning 3 valid licenses from Acronis True Image 2013.

Let my highlight my dissapointments here with version 2013, and with version 2012:

User support:
I've spend alraedy about 3 days (full days) working with customer support to resolve my issues.
- Customer support accessing my machine, trying to identify the bugs, asking me the same questions over and over again. Although i am telling them what to do, how to simulate the same errors, they are not doing that, they are just asking me the same stupid questions.
- Writing emails.
- Searching and responding on user forums.


Software Quality:
This piece of software is just not ready to go to the market. I cannot understand how such a company stays in business, releasing a software that contains that many bugs. The most issues that i am experiencing with it, is to work with NAS devices. Early warning, don't use any NAS device to backup your information using this software:
- Your backups may suddenly dissapear.
- Your backup files may become corrupted.
- Your may suddenly experience errors, stopping the backup process, and you are unable to recover from it.
- The user interface is really buggy. It crashes unexpectedly.
- The user interface is not consistent. when backups are started in the background, it does not show in the user interface! Only after a while, which can take up to 10 minutes to show up!
- Error logging is not consistent and correct. Actually, the logs show all goes well, with backups failing and crashing. Without any single error in the log.

They over market and advertise things which simply don't work. I feel tricked and cheated by Acronis that i have bought their software.

Small advice, try to install their software in try period, and try it out yourself. You'll see.
Look beyond the surface of the nice looking interface, and try to backup, restore from backups, restart your pc, stop backups, restart backups, work with NASes, disconnect networks and see what happens, restart your NAS and see what happens, etc, etc.
You will experiernce that this software is not worth to get all these nice credits from official reviewers, that's what you'll experience.

Actually, it is a shame that professional reviewers are scoring this software so high, it shows that these reviewers and not reviewing this software at all!

Consolidation of backups also gives errors. I am experiencing this here. Not just one time. I had to restart a backup because of consolidation failing, or, not running at all. Also, the versioning system of the software has errors. It shows 12 versions in the user interface, there are 13 files on my drive, and when i press consolidate, it shows 2 versions... Acronis, please fix the root cause of these issues that i experience.


Posted by:

Don Brohm
01 Oct 2012


Downloaded Acronis True Image 2013 yesterday. Largely based on Bob's excellent recommendation. I see another article recommending Acronis today, 10/1/12. Attempted install on a new 5 day old Lenovo Y580 I7, Win 7 64 bit Ivybridge laptop.

During the install, I got a blue screen of death, saying failure during install [or something like that] Using windows 7 recovery I was fortunate to get back to where I was before the crash. Acronis support is non existant, paid per incident phone support only. Tried online chat, but, could not make that work, it would not accept my error code. I called the paid support number [India] and when I was asked to pay I told the gentleman my situation, and that I wanted a refund as I was not paying for a support call.

After 30 minutes or so, most of this time on hold, and continual requesting for repeating what I was being told as I could not understand the support person due to the extreem Indian accent.

I was told that he would put thru a refund at "cleverbridge" the Acronis online store, that it would take 5-7 days. My case is pending. I would have been willing to redownload and try install again, but, the Acronis lack of any viable phone support was my last straw.

I used Norton Ghost for disk imaging on my XP machine for many years. Cumberson, but worked great. Now I don't know what use for saving a bootable C: image? I am afraid of Acronis.


Posted by:

Paul
17 Dec 2012

Bob regarding Acronis alternatives i'm will not agree with you that norton ghost is the nearest competitor, you see norton ghost 360 was not changed for many years by now and acronis releases upgrades every year for true image.

I would prefer paragon hard disk manager 12 instead of norton ghost, this comparison article may be of help http://www.acroniscoupon.info/acronis-true-image-vs-paragon-hard-disk-manager.html


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