Disaster Recovery

Review: Acronis Backup & Recovery 10

Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 software, available in a wide-ranging suite, lets administrators automate disk image backup routines with confidence.

Reliable data backups are a significant source of trouble for information technology professionals. Traditional routines regularly fail, as do many applications' attempts to safeguard open files and active databases. It doesn't have to be that way. Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 software - available in a wide-ranging suite covering everything from desktop workstations to virtualized servers - lets administrators automate disk image backup routines with confidence.

Specifications

  • Product: Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Server For Windows
  • Supported Windows operating systems: Windows Server SP4+, Windows 2003 Server SP 2+ x32 and x64 Editions, Windows 2008 Server SP2 x32 and x64 Editions
  • Supported File Systems: FAT 16/32, NTFS
  • Supported Storage: Hard disk drives, networked storage devices, CD-RW, DVD-RW, Zip, Rev Disk, other removable media, P-ATA (IDE), S-ATA, SCSI, IEEE1394 and USB devices
  • Price: Server versions start at $853; Workstation licenses start at $74
  • More Info: Acronis Backup & Recovery 10
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Who's it for?

Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 software assists IT professionals responsible for backing up critical Windows data and minimizing downtime when failures occur. Linux editions are also available for Linux users. By providing administrators with a proven and reliable suite of products for not only backing up critical data, but also safeguarding application, system configuration, and system state information, technology professionals can recover failed systems much more quickly.

What problem does it solve?

Reliable data backups are a struggle within even the best organized IT departments. Myriad incompatibilities and failures arise when using traditional backup software that simply copies critical business data. Some programs are unable to properly back up open files or active databases, a common headache. When disks and systems do fail, recovery used to be a laborious process, necessitating the installation and configuration of the operating system, as well as the installation and configuration of antivirus software, critical business applications, office productivity software and more. Further, user accounts have to be re-created, as do network shares. Printers must be reinstalled. The list goes on.

Not so with Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 software, it creates archive files that enable restoring a system and its exact configuration in one fell swoop. Those IT professionals that opt to include Acronis' optional Universal Restore feature don't even need to recover a workstation or server to a box with the same hardware. Instead, systems can be recovered to computers using disparate hardware, a critical factor when older motherboards fail. Additional optional components (Aronis Recovery for Microsoft Exchange and Acronis Recovery for MS SQL Server) ensure critical e-mail and SQL data are properly backed up, too.

Standout features

  • Bare-metal restoration: Using Acronis Backup & Recovery 10, exact workstation and server copies - including user configurations, system state data, applications, printer configurations, network settings, and more - can be restored to a new hard disk. As a result, when failures do occur, Acronis backups drastically reduce downtime.
  • Universal restoration: When recovering from system failures, whether the failures are the cause of broken motherboards, erratic disk controllers, corrupted RAID arrays or catastrophic physical damage (flood, fire, etc.), the optional Universal Restore feature enables recovering the archived backup files to completely new systems possessing completely different hardware configurations. The resulting recovery time improvements more than justify the cost.
  • Customizable backup schemes: Acronis has included prepackaged backup schemes within its software. These schemes meet a wide array of needs. Administrators needing to customize backups to meet specific requirements, however, will find the backup software unusually flexible. Technicians can configure settings down to the most minute of details, including triggering backups based on exact conditions (such as a predetermined time interval, specific systems being powered on or off, a specific user logging on or off, etc.). Further, Acronis handily automates archive maintenance and supports centralized administration, ensuring IT pros' time is freed for other tasks.
  • Outstanding reporting: The reporting tools included within the Acronis 10 suite of backup tools are first rate. From customizable e-mail alert notifications to a centralized dashboard that can display backup status for multiple systems on a single screen, Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 simplifies one of the most critical tasks technology professionals manage, while removing the frustration.

What's wrong?

  • Complexity requires time to learn: Like many powerful products, Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 imaging software requires dedicated effort to learn. As the product assumes responsibility for a critical task (managing backup and recovery processes), and as it possesses infinite configuration and recovery options (including Universal Restore, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL recovery), administrators must ensure they're properly configuring and monitoring Acronis backup operations. IT pros should not expect to just be able to download the software, follow installation prompts and click on a few default settings. While backup operations may prove that simple on some systems, other environments' specific needs may require that administrators take sufficient time to learn and properly configure the program's, and corresponding optional components', full capabilities.

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 sets the standard for data backup utilities. With support for universal restoration, e-mail and SQL database protection, bare-metal recovery and even virtualized servers, the software permits administrators to confidently address one of the most troublesome but critical tasks they perform: backup and recovery operations.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Acronis Backup & Recovery 10? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

17 comments
Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I assume one of the lesser versions Acronis Backup [say the Workstation edition] can be used for a standard backup of local data and a couple of other systems' data as well.

bercovm
bercovm

Erik, Shame on you for recommending a product critical to the wellbeing of users' computers with only the most cursory examination. Did you actually try this program? Conceptually, it is fine. In practice, it is a bug ridden piece of detrious. Don't believe me, take a quick look at the comments of hundreds (nay thousands) of happy former Acronis customers posted on Actonis forums. In addition to the fact that QA is an unknown commodity at the vendor, support (which terminates 30 days after they get your money) is almost nonexistant. As a former customer of Acronis, I strongly recommend that you walk (or better yet, run) away from this product as quickly as you can.

Iain Smith
Iain Smith

I used an earlier version of this product a couple of years ago and it didn't work, despite getting great reviews in various magazines I'd been reading. The problem with this and other similar products is that you never get the chance to actually test them because no-one is going to lead them back into a 'bare metal' PC unless the PC in question is not a working PC but one bought just as a test gig.

jasonb
jasonb

Acronis Products are great until they don't work and you need support. I recently tried to use Acronis B&R for Small Business Server along with their Exchange Add on. We were hoping to use the product to do a P2V conversion to Hyper-V of an SBS2008 Server. Even with there support people remotely trying to to do this for us the process failed. Then we found that the backups we made using the acronis software prior to this process were corrupted, resulting in data loss. We spent over 24 hours dealing with the most incompetent overseas support people our company has ever dealt with. We begged to be pushed to Tier 2 support in the US, which never happened. After losing a day's worth of Exchange Data, and wasting a HUGE amount of time, we ended up requesting a refund on the product. I've used Acronis Products for over 5 years and will NEVER recommend them again to any of my clients.

jck
jck

I have True Image Home 2009. I got it on the cheap from NewEgg once. Will backup Linux and MS partitions. I can even take a bare drive, hook it in, and tell it to restore the backup image to the unformatted, unpartitioned disk and it does it all for me. I guess with the added workstation management, that bigger tool would be better for a bigger IT shop. But, I'd say go with a less costly version for smaller IT setups.

kyle.rabe
kyle.rabe

I used Acronis True Image Echo Workstation with Windows XP to clone my internal hard disk to a hard disk inserted into the Ultrabay slot on my Lenovo T61p. This worked well and provided a very quick, though not perfect, disaster recovery option - just insert the cloned disk and boot from it if the internal fails. When I upgraded to Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, True Image Echo workstation would not run (perhaps it will now), so I also upgraded to Backup & Recovery 10 Workstation. The same cloning procedure does not work for me anymore. I have worked with Acronis support for over two months and have yet to have the issue resolved. The last thing that I heard was that cloning to the Ultrabay was not supported. In addition to features not working after the upgrade, some features were removed, such as partition resizing during cloning and when restoring from a disk image. I can't comment on the more traditional uses of B&R 10, but from my disk cloning experience, it falls far short of True Image Echo.

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

Windows Backup costs $0 (aside from Windows itself) and allows you to back up precisely what you want. This might not be sufficient for servers, but for workstations, it works fine, at no addtional cost whatsoever. Just set up a network share with sufficient space (1800 GB, in this case) on a machine with any OS (plain Windows 7 Enterprise in this case) and set up Windows Backup for scheduled or manual backups to this share (depending on whether the employee works at the office every day or works from home most of the time). Create shortcuts for Windows Backup on the shortcut and pin it to the taskbar, and you're done...

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

How much trouble do back and data recovery routines cause for you? What application do you use to manage it?

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

My office has approximately 20 Acronis server daily image backups in place with some 15 different companies. We have dozens of other Acronis workstation image backups in place. We monitor them all daily. We have very few problems. When we do, we're very aggressive in pursuing repair, and we've always been successful. In December, we were able to recover a manufacturing facility, with Exchange, that suffered a complete failure due to a failed RAID array. Acronis really came to the rescue. I think, like any other complex product, the engineerings deploying and supporting the software must be properly trained.

jagibbo
jagibbo

I spent over 100 hours, including 40+ hours with Acronis support, trying to get Backup and Recovery 10 to work consistently. The support experience is the worst I have had with any company in my career. I am an IT Manager at a 1000+ employee company, and we needed a scalable, centrally managed workstation backup solution. Backup and Recovery should not be confused with True Echo, which does work well for individual systems. Backup and Recovery 10 is a failed attempt at entering the mid to large IT market segment. I am now using a cloud backup solution for our workstations at a lower cost and greater flexibility. Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 is a failed product with a broken support model.

cutedeedle
cutedeedle

I'm an I.T. consultant and I also have five Windows PCs at home. Same experience here but I didn't wait until it was an emergency. I did my usual iterations of test restores and found out the "bare metal" (so called, anyway) recovery didn't work. Acronis support and I went back and forth for at least three weeks, then I had to cut them off because they were just wasting my time and we were no closer to resolution than upon first contact. I wasted money on the stoopid product but learned my lesson, ran a full trial of Storagecraft's backup solution, then purchased it. I've had to do many file and full system restores and it works flawlessly. Definitely worth the money, Acronis isn't worth the CD it's distributed on. Bah.

terry
terry

Acronis is an absolute pain. I have experience it quite a few times now. It causes all sorts of problems until you realise you have to increase the stack size. First time, on my own computer, I was tearing my hair out until I googled the problem & lo...there were lots & lots of listings. Once increased it works ok but I prefer not to use it. The problem is what to use? Windows backup is rarely backwards compatible.

Iain Smith
Iain Smith

Having just posted my own comments without reading what's been written already, I also spent what seemed like most of a weekend struggling with this product before giving up. If you want backups I suggest rather that go for a bare metal everything-gets-saved 'clever' product you just need to save working files and identities, not buy a technically clever and untestable product. What angered me about my experience was that afterwards. having read all the reviews I realised that all the IT journalists involved had done was just assume that software does what it says on the tin. That could be an enormously expensive mistake in the real world. If you insist on using this or any competing product I suggest you do not discontinue your low-tech backups that save the simple bare necessities of My Docs, Identities etc.

mredgar2005
mredgar2005

I've been using the Acronis TrueImage 2009 Home and I absolutely love it. I figure if you want something critical done correctly, i.e. servers - go with Acronis!

bhartung
bhartung

I have to agree with you. I originally started using the product as a stand-alone app. It was simple to use and did a great job restoring systems with failed or corrupted hard drives. However, when they started to expand the product into the enterprise market, nothing works consistently and it's become a confusing bunch of different pieces that are pains to implement and maintain.

SHCA
SHCA

Jagibbo, As a VAR and Acronis reseller, I am very interested in your experience. Unfortunately, it is often the negative experiences that teach us the most. Were your problems in the area of installation & configuration or usage, or did the product fail to function or put your data at risk? I too have experienced issues with Acronis support, so I simply pursue Acronis technical education for my staff, and support my customers directly. Our experience has been that you need an advanced background to be able to specify & configure the full Acronis Server suite. It may not be worth it for the end user like yourself, but shielded from these issues by a knowledgable VAR, my customers get great value from Acronis.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I agree. Acronis provides tremendous value for our clients. However, that doesn't mean you can just click an executable file, follow a few default prompts and consider the job complete and not monitor the operation. We have technicians monitor Acronis jobs daily, but the value is tremendous, especially when recovering from complete server failures to new chasses in just 90 minutes to two or so hours.