Backup your workstation with True Image for Mac

Jesus Vigo takes a look at True Image for Mac, a data protection and backup solution by Acronis.

Acronis True Image for Mac

"Being too busy to worry about backup is like being too busy driving a car put on a seatbelt." - T.E. Ronneberg

The sad fact is that while most end users use their devices for both work and play, seldom do they consider the possibility that the device may crash or get hit with malware until just after it occurs -- often rendering data corrupt or unrecoverable.

Luckily, solutions for this type of dilemma have just increased for Mac users with the availability of True Image for Mac by Acronis.

Let's review the feature set by taking a closer look at Acronis' latest offering.

Founded in 2003, Acronis has long held a stake in data protection solutions for Windows and Linux environments. And while they only recently entered the Apple software marketplace, they bring over a decade of consumer and corporate backup and disaster recovery experience with their first OS X entry, integrating cloud functionality as well.

From the onset, the UI is uncomplicated. There are only a few choices available, but they are laid out simply and easy to find.

Click on the Source button to identify the drive you wish to backup from, and click the Destination button to identify the drive you wish to backup to. Then click the Start Backup button (Figure A) to initiate a full-system backup. It really doesn't get much easier than that.

Figure A

Figure A
Select the Source, Destination, and click Start Backup.

A note about file formats when selecting backup/destination drives: Acronis supports HFS+ (Mac) and Fat32 and ExFat (Win). This is inherent to OS X, as it does not write to NTFS-formatted drives -- it can only read from them natively.

There are few settings to manage. When to Back Up options include a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly backup schedule (Figure B). Multiple profiles can be created that perform backups to different destinations at varied times -- including Acronis' own cloud service -- while provides dual or triple backup fail-over protection.

Figure B

Figure B
You can select to schedule backups.

Acronis gets a tip-of-the-hat for including the option to encrypt backups via password protection. This is an often overlooked feature by most end users. However, it pays off in spades should sensitive personal information ever fall into the wrong hands.

Backups run in the background and do not interfere with the workstation while in use. Acronis uses the .TIB file extension as a proprietary format to store backups. This means the backed-up data can only be read through Acronis' application, not directly from the Finder (or 3rd-party file browser). In the event of a total system failure, the backup archive will be not accessible until True Image is installed on another computer (Figure C), adding another hurdle to retrieving individual files or performing a full backup restore.

Figure C

Figure C
Last backup successfully completed.

Included with True Image is the ability to create bootable rescue media. This creates a recovery partition on an external drive so that you can boot into a recovery environment to restore your system to a previously healthy state using a full-system backup.

With that said, external USB and Thunderbolt drives are supported, as are NAS or network shares using the AFP/SMB protocols built in to Windows, Apple, and Linux servers by default. Cloud backup is an optional service, providing up to 1 TB of online storage for a yearly fee.

Unfortunately, there are a few major caveats to True Image that affect users of newer and older Macs alike. Namely, only OS X 10.8 and 10.9 are currently supported. This is a shame, since there are many users with perfectly working Macs using Lion (10.7) or Snow Leopard (10.6) that are unable to upgrade to a newer OS due to hardware requirements or personal preference.

In addition to that, Boot Camp users or newer Macs with Fusion Drives will not be able to utilize True Image, as those features are not supported. Sadly, neither are drives encrypted with File Vault 2. However, those using Parallels for VM needs will be able to backup VMs in their current state.

Acronis has translated True Image over to OS X in a competent, very easy-to-use application aimed at the consumer. Although it's marred by a proprietary file format and a few major unsupported Apple features, at $49.99 (USD), the most important features are done right. The $79.99 3-license version is suited well for the SOHO user that needs a set-it-and-forget-it backup solution for several computers with multiple backup redundancies, cloud access, and a simple UI, making it a good recommendation.

Acronis True Image for Mac has created a solid foundation with which to expand upon. By fixing compatibility issues pertaining to File Vault 2, Boot Camp, and Fusion Drive respectively, Acronis would be well on their way to a great product. If it included the option to backup files as stored in their directories -- instead of using a proprietary format -- that would certainly add to the app's flexibility and ultimately push True Image into the highly recommended category.

Does your organization use True Image for Mac? If not, what backup solution do you use? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.