Backup software might be one of the most important investments your company makes. Without a solid backup solution, everything hangs in the balance when disaster strikes. If your system dies, you want to make sure you have everything in place to restore from bare metal.

One of the leading backup tools is Acronis Backup and Recovery. When Acronis works, it’s an amazing tool. When Acronis doesn’t work, it’s tremendously frustrating. Here are some ways you can make sure that Acronis runs smoothly so you have a reliable backup.

1: Delete metadata when deleting job

There are times when you will have to rebuild a backup job. It’s almost inevitable. And when you do, you need to clean house. Otherwise, Acronis is going to throw out errors from a backup job you’re sure you deleted. When you delete a backup job, go into the target backup drive and look for the .meta folder. Within that folder, you will see the metadata file(s) associated with any backup jobs that are or have been on the machine. Make sure you delete the file for the backup you have deleted. To know which metadata file is correct, open the file in Notepad and look for clues (a good reason to give each backup a unique name).

2: Create a separate validation task

You can create a backup job in Acronis that will back up, validate, and clean up. That’s all fine and good when everything runs perfectly… or if your backup job isn’t too big. But when backups are flaky or overly large, a backup job that contains all three tasks will take a long time. On top of that, if one of those tasks should fail, the backup might fail as well. I prefer to create a validation task outside the backup job and run it on an off day or after the backup task has completed.

3: Use the email notification system

Email notification is the best way to know that your backup is working. During setup, in the Options section, you can configure email notification. This should not be an “option” — especially for mission-critical servers. When you set up the email notification for the backup, change the subject line so the incoming email is immediately recognizable. I like to erase the ABR10 in brackets and replace it with either the client or the machine name. When you monitor a lot of clients, this makes for a much faster job.

4: Make use of the dashboard

Acronis Backup and Recovery 10 has a great dashboard tool that gives you an at-a-glance view of the current and previous months’ backup successes and failures. Make a habit of examining this page so you can keep abreast of how your backup jobs are performing. Using this tool, you can get a good idea of the regularity at which your backups are succeeding and possibly find trends that reveal why particular backups are failing.

5: Purchase the Universal Restore option

Although this feature will cost you extra up front, it will save you time and money in the end. The Universal Restore feature allows you to recover an image from a failed machine to different hardware or even to a virtual machine. Should your hardware fail, you won’t have to restore the image to identical hardware. This feature comes in handy if your failed server is running on out-of-date technology you can no longer purchase. It also allows you to recover an image to better hardware.

Backup experiences

Any backup solution is prone to numerous problems. But the fewer issues you have with the software and the better you plan your backups, the better your chances of recovering from disaster.

Have you used Acronis? If so, what are your backup best practices? Share your experiences with your fellow TechRepublic readers.