Disaster Recovery

Prevent data loss with Acronis True Image Home 2010

TechRepublic member Ron K. encourages his TR peers to back up their data and prevent data loss. There are plenty of free and inexpensive backup solutions out there, but Ron is especially impressed with Acronis True Home Image 2010.
This post was written by TechRepublic member Ron K..

How many times have we heard folks say that they've lost “irreplaceable” data due to hard drive failure, malware, accidental deletion, reformatting, or other mishaps? If you've been a techie for years, you may have heard it hundreds of times.

Quite often, we provide partial solutions to recovery, with the occasional good idea of setting a drive as a secondary drive to snag data that way – but even more frequently, we send people on their merry way without providing solid backup solutions.

I’ve seen a lot of recent discussion and articles about Clonezilla, which is a free backup tool. I guess some people swear by it, and that's fine if it works for you. To be honest, I’ve only glanced at those discussions, because I purchased what I think is an excellent tool -- Acronis True Image Home 2010 PC Backup and Recovery.

I have six computers in all. Three main computers are on a small home network, and the other three are protected by Ghost images made to external USB drives. The latter method is painstaking – yank the drive out, slave it to the computer with Ghost, create the image, and replace the drive – and images aren't made as often as I'd like.

Ideally, I like to see full images weekly, and Acronis allows us to do that. Another plus is that Acronis is easy to use. You can cruise through the backup images from the Acronis browser, just like Windows Explorer, and cherry-pick and restore files to any directory.

About a month ago, I got slammed by malware. Fortunately, it happened the day after I made a backup. I saved a few recent documents and downloads to my secondary drive, inserted Acronis' boot disc, located my backup image, and timed how long it took to restore my computer back to a clean operation system with all 149 of my programs and data intact. Overall, it took 15-20 minutes to restore 75GB.

I have some friends who live with basic operating systems and little data. I still recommend that they use Acronis, because I can restore everything faster than they can load an operating system.

Acronis has one bug that affects the network, but I found the solution on Brickblog. Simply modify the Registry on all effected computers, and you're back in business.

How much will Acronis set you back? My total cost for three PCs was roughly $150.00, but you might be able to find lower prices. Justin James said that when he bought a MB from Newegg, they bundled Acronis Home for $4.99. The point is that deals are out there.

You can also protect your data by saving it to DVDs or purchasing secondary drives. I bought 1.5 TB secondary drives for two computers – the third computer doesn't have room, so its images go to a USB drive, which is much slower.

Even though the 1.5 TB secondary drives can store a lot of images (I won't have to delete old images as often when those drives eventually fill up), I still don't trust our backup images to secondary drives alone. About once a monthly, the latest image is stored to a large USB drive, which cost about $150.00.

A total of $300.00 is pretty cheap insurance for “irreplaceable” data. Even if you have a ton of security applications, they're only as good as your last, clean backup image. In today's world, you can get slammed with something nasty in a heartbeat.

Backup, people! Backup, backup, backup! If you don't, I may commiserate with you about your data loss, but I may also shake my head because there are so many alternatives out there to backing up data and preventing data loss. The responsibility for your data is ultimately in your hands.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

31 comments
XSvirusSAFE
XSvirusSAFE

It is one of the best backup tools and work very good with dual boot system and disk copy tools is one of the best I have used

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I swear by Clonezilla, primarily because I'm not going to install personal software to the laptop. I have TrueImage Home 2010 running on the primary home PC that the rest of the family uses. When I first installed it, I was using the nonstop backup feature, but the family complained about delays, and I kept noticing disk space issues, so I turned that off. I bought another hard drive, then used the Acronis scheduler to schedule bi-weekly backups on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. I only got a 500 GB secondary drive, though, so I have to purge old images every month. I got started with TrueImage a couple years ago with a free download through (I think) the SupportAlert newsletter, now merged with Windows Secrets. (http://www.windowssecrets.com/) A few months later, Acronis offered a free upgrade to TrueImage Home 2009. Last year's upgrade to Home 2010 was $29.95 or thereabouts. I saved a bunch, but I'm only using it on one PC. The other two are play machines that I'm not worried about right now. edit: corrected upgrade cost

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

Does Acronis Home let you restore full image backups from a network location just by booting from a CD or flash drive to kick it off? I'm looking for something similar to the way WHS backups work, but not necessarily with a "server side" component aside from a network share. Also, will Acronis wake a computer from standby to run a scheduled backup and then put it back to sleep when the backup is finished?

dev
dev

I know that for many years (decades?) people have complained about either the lack of a backup solution from Microsoft or the poor quality of what's included with DOS or Windows. But with Windows 7, I've heard good things about the Backup system. I have Acronis on my main machine, but have been using Windows 7 Backup on my wife's machine for several months with no problem. I even replaced her hard disk restoring with a Windows 7 backup to test it out and it was flawless. I'm starting to think Microsoft has finally released a good enough product that I no longer have to rely on 3rd-party add-ons for several utilities. I'll admit that Acronis has many more options, but if you don't need them, try the one in Windows 7.

spin2nz
spin2nz

I've been using Acronis for a while now and won't look for anything else. Like some earlier posts, I used to use Ghost for backups. However when I got XP-x64 it wouldn't run on that system. The pro version of Acronis worked just fine on it (and still does). The only thing I do different that most others don't seem to do, is that I always do a full cloning of my drive. Drives are so cheap these days that it just makes sense. If my primary drive fails I can simply go into the BIOS, switch the boot drive and I am up and running in less than 5 minutes.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

to do some 'splorin'. Thanks, Ron. I've been fiddling in the dark too long. :|

Fyrewerx
Fyrewerx

$150 per PC for Acronis Home 2010 just seems way too high. Even buying it directly from them on their website, it is only $49. As mentioned by other posters, it is often available for around $15 from Newegg. Perhaps you meant $150 for three of your PCs?

santeewelding
santeewelding

Who lives with basic operating system and little data. In fact, no data, if I can help it. I keep my setup as pure a conduit as I can manage, with but a 75-gig Raptor to host W7Pro. Even that is way too big (does anyone still make a fast 20-gig drive?...because that would serve me just fine). Yet, Ron, the constant exhortation has me leaning your way -- the way of adding another drive to the box; a regular, rational backup routine; and faster recovery for when I screw up. Leaning, mind you; unconvinced, as yet.

darkstate
darkstate

I have used Acronis last year and found it a bit clunky, especially when you have it do increments, maybe 2010 edition has solved this problem but for me, the most reliable and easiest is dd or dcfldd on any linux dist. I don't use linux as my main os, but using a vast array of clone programs like,clonezilla,acronis etc, I've found the easiest and most reliable to be the linux dd or dcfldd, when i say reliable i mean solid reliable. What i mean by reliable is, how many people check there backups actually work? I do, If you don't check the backup has actually done what its supposed to on a regular basis, then the program is pointless and a total waste of your time. Using dd is as easy as typing in dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb there are a lot of switches you can add at the end of that command to suit your needs.

yasseraloosy
yasseraloosy

I bought the software and i still have it on my PC, but i lost the boot CD, do you guys know where i can the CD? i can't boot image with out it.

PINASCOPY
PINASCOPY

you can get a free version of acronis if you have a Western Digital drive in your system. Search for Acronis on the WD site.

zdnet
zdnet

I have been using Windows backup on my XP machines for years and it has been pretty reliable. But I turned to Acronis when I had a problem with a new Windows 7 machine. It had two 750 GB drives and I wanted to add a smaller drive for just the OS. Windows would not restore to a partition smaller than the original. Nor could I shrink the original OS partition enough to fit it on the new drive. I got the trial of True Image Home 2010 and voila! No problem restoring to the smaller drive. I purchased it at the end of the trial, and it is now my backup program of choice.

awlnd
awlnd

I have used Acronis home for secondary imaging and backup of "odd" images in an enterprise situation for the last 4 years. the GUI is easy to use, the back end highly configurable and the images produced are solid. I give it a 10 out of 10. Awln

amerridy
amerridy

I've seen a fair number of backup solutions over the years; back in the 90's and the early part of the post 2000 decade I used Ghost (NEVER Windows Backup until recently). In 2004 I invested in Acronis True Image, and have not looked back. As a professional I frequently have to recommend backup solutions to clients. As a result, I've tried Paragon, newer versions of Ghost, Clonezilla, etc. I keep coming back to True Image as the best solution for the price. Its fast, easy to use, fairly automated, and allows you to mount your partition images to look at or restore specific data with an ease not found in most other solutions. ABOVE ALL, I have found it to be RELIABLE. Can't stress that enough. I've had Ghost images fail, Windows Restore faults, etc., but True Image has never let me down. It even backs up partitions faster than Windows 7's Backup, which, if you don't want to spend the money on a commercial solution, is not bad (so far). I have 4 PCs (1 Ubuntu, 2 XP/Windows 7, 1 Vista laptop) in my home, and for the Windows machines, True Image is the one I trust.

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

I bought Acronis based on a co-workers recommendation. I hate programs that have megabytes of constantly running programs. The program should only load code when I use it. Same thing with NovaBack. Megabytes of constantly running code. The programs should give us customization options that eliminates the 'TSR' programs.

Ron K.
Ron K.

I don't know the answers. I'm sure they'll be able to help you.

zdnet
zdnet

As I posted earlier, I have always used Windows XP backup with no problems (and I have done several recoveries using ASR). But neither XP nor Windows 7 backup will restore the system to a smaller partition than the original. I have that need on two systems now. True Image solved the problem on my new Windows 7 machine, but it won't run on my backlevel XP machine (SP1) and I am going to be stuck putting in a much larger drive than I need just to get the system restored properly. Regarding the Windows 7 machine, I haven't made an Acronis boot disk yet, but the Windows 7 recovery disk I made would not work.

Ron K.
Ron K.

I could upgrade 3 machines to 7; drivers are available, but it'd just be a novelty, we don't need it. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to have it. I would. I can't justify the expense.

Ron K.
Ron K.

I used one drive as a test drive. I'm not planning to do that on this one, yet. I need a third drive, for one thing. I have space for one but it's further down on my wish-list.

Ron K.
Ron K.

I'm going to keep nagging.

Ron K.
Ron K.

It was roughly $150.00 for all 3 computers. I can't recall exactly what we paid. I bought it directly from Acronis as I'd already downloaded the trial from there. I shopped around a little but not much. Didn't care. The price seemed right to me. I know that I've sure paid more and gotten less.

jakesty
jakesty

Get a large 16 or 32gb key. Acronis will compress your system, but remember you will only be able to keep a limited number of backups. Maybe an external 2.5" USB drive would work too for you?

Ron K.
Ron K.

Something like that happening will prompt a user into making backups. I generally say that all of your security is only as good as your last, clean backup. I've still enough to bug you about if you do start making backups; never fear. B-)

dleippe
dleippe

If you have the full program installed go to its tools menu and it will make a boot CD for you.

MeadowsPV
MeadowsPV

Short version; If your main drive is a WD or Maxtor or Seagate then do NOT Pay for Acronis, unless you need incremental backups or read write access to stored image. Acronis True Image WD Edition - Free Seagate DiscWizard [Powered by Acronis]-Free The current version of DiscWizard is supported in Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Previous versions of Microsoft Windows, such as Windows 98SE and Windows Me, are not supported. With the latest release of DiscWizard, you can now back up any partition on your computer to another hard drive, removable media such as CD-R/RWs or DVD-R/RWs, or even a drive on your network or an FTP server.

Carter.S
Carter.S

I think each program has its deficiency. The safety and easy-to-use interface are the two imports for me.

Willie11
Willie11

I too purchased Acronis True Image (ver 11) and I use it to backup to a USB connected external hard drive. Usually I boot from the Acronis CD and backup (full or incremental). The problem is that if I tell Acronis to backup AND verify the backup works but it cannot find my USB hard drive for the verify step and fails. If I boot from Acronis CD, backup, reboot from Acronis CD, and then verify the backup I have no problem. Has anybody ever run into this one? Is it an Acronis bug that drops the connection to the USB hard drive or something else I'm doing?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I just don't bother with the OS and programs. Nag away, though. Everyone needs a good nag now and then. :D

Willie11
Willie11

I have a 32 Gb USB Key and I use xcopy to make a copy of my mail, my Firefox profile and My Documents almost every day before I leave my computer. I have it set up as a batch file. Here's a sample line: xcopy "C:\Documents and Settings\Willie\My Documents" "E:\My Documents" /d /e /y /f It's a quick daily routine. Every time I make a real backup of the machine I format the USB drive and start again to get rid of old deleted files.

alan
alan

After several successful restorations of Acronis Images, I had a total failure, but after a reboot everything was as if nothing had happened. My external drive used external power, and power saving shut it down when the computer shut down the USB interface, and restarted the drive motor after a reboot. I decided the brief shut-down / reboot that avoids "file in use" problems had shut of power, and then immediately Acronis was back in action and trying to get data from the external drive before its motor had got back to 7200 rpm. I guess that 3 times out of 4 the disc won the race and got to speed before Acronis was demanding data, but 1 out of 4 Acronis won and "disaster" ensued. Having decided this was a probably cause, I disabled Power Saving, so that regardless of reboot / shutdown etc. it stays at 7200 rpm until I switch off the drive's external Power Supply. I never had a problem since disabling Power Save. Perhaps you have a similar problem that Restore is followed by Reboot, and the external drive is not back to speed in time for the Verify. The solution may be to disable power saving mode if the USB drive uses external power. If the drive uses internal power you may need alternative solutions. Personally I always validate as a separate action for the very good reason that Acronis would add the new image to a folder with 40 older images, but NOT restrict its validation to the new image - it would re-validate the whole wretched archive, and if image failed validation it never told me which one had failed ! ! I suffered pains with Acronis 9 and adapted to its limitations. Version 11 and onwards may be better but I am happy doing what always works for me. Alan

Ron K.
Ron K.

Hook up an external USB drive with plenty of spare room and go to Start|All Programs|Accessories|System Tools|Files and settings transfer wizard. Choose to transfer all files and settings from your 'old' computer and put them on the external drive. Those files and settings are part of what you've painstakingly setup on your computer to get it to act just the way you want it to. See how many files and settings there are? One piece of malware or virus can ruin ALL of your fine-tuning. Why is that? Because you don't backup. You may think that a rebuild will provide you with a somehow better, faster, cleaner machine. Thing is, you won't backup that one either. You'll just keep repeating the cycle. Sure, data is important but it's not the whole story. You have to start from scratch to rebuild your finely-honed machine only to be able to possibly see it go *poof*, again, the first day you connect it to the Internet.