Save Your Bacon With Acronis True Image 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
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 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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Sep 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Save Your Bacon With Acronis True Image Backup (Posted: 25 Sep 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved