Press Centre

HardWareMag

February, 2007


Backing up Is (not) Hard to Do


Acronis True Image 10 Home

Of all IT horror stories you might hear from a friend about another friend's friend, few are as sobering and tragic as a story about a crashed hard disk. RAM gone bad, burnt power supply or even a dead motherboard, can all be irritating and a bother, but a crashed hard disk has a much greater impact. Computer parts can be (somewhat easily) replaceable, but data, whether it be confidential work-related documents, precious photos of friends and family or even that mp3 collection which you painstakingly put together, once lost might never be recovered.

For the average home user, data backup is usually viewed as an unnecessary chore and the prevailing attitude seems to be, "Nah, it'll never happen to me". Unfortunately, when lightning does strike, it's often too late, and data recovery does not come cheap.

With the price of storage plummeting, backup for the home user has never been more accessible. Adding to the mix backup software that is increasingly more user friendly, more versatile, and most importantly, more powerful, there is little reason not to backup data.

Data archiving and backup is nothing new, but has mostly been confined to enterprise applications. Acronis' latest offering, Acronis True Image 10 Home, as its name suggest, is aimed right at home and home office markets. Affordable, yet feature-rich, it is a very feasible backup solution for the home user.

Acronis True Image 10 Home comes with so many features, it's so hard to know where to begin describing and cataloguing them. The extremely flexible and powerful backup tool supports backup of not just hard disks but also predefined categories of selected files, Microsoft Outlook data and application settings, among others. Users can backup to a variety of media, including internal and external drives, optical media — CDs and DVDs — and even upload backups to a remote FTP server.

Instead of making periodic full backups, users have the option of choosing between incremental and differential backup. Once a full backup has been made, it will be used as the base for future backups. An incremental backup only backs up data which has been changed since the last backup which be will obviously be faster than a full backup. This will be stored in a separate file. Differential backups are stored in the same file, which contains all changes made since the original archive creation. The choice of backup methods means that the load on the system during backups will be much lower, except during a full backup.

Another welcome feature of Acronis True Image 10 Home is Acronis Secure Zone coupled with Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. Together, they function akin to the System Restore utility present in some notebooks, with the factory default drive image loaded onto a hidden partition of the hard disk, which can be loaded when necessary, restoring the hard disk to its original factory configuration.

Starting Recovery Manager allows Acronis True Image to run without starting the OS, which will most definitely come in handy in the event of the OS being corrupted and unable to start. As the backup is hidden in a separate partition, chances of a backup being damaged are slim, short of a catastrophic disk failure. Road warriors in particular will definitely find this function to be a lifesaver.

The Active Restore feature enhances the functionality of the Recovery Manager even further, allowing the system to startup and run even before recovery has been completed, while full restoration will carry on in the background.

Acronis True Image is also able to clone disk images — making a perfect copy of a currently existing disk. The advantage of creating your own disk image is immediately obvious. You can create a clone image after installing programs multiple times. System administrators, and perhaps LAN gaming centre owners will find this function useful.

The task scheduler is also very powerful. Backups can be scheduled to take place daily, weekly, monthly or at prescribed times, ensuring that you will never 'forget' to backup your data again. Tools are also included to manage backup archives. Archives can be 'opened' in Explorer and browsed and searched through as if it were a regular volume or directory. If so desired, they can also be mounted and assigned a drive letter. What's been covered so far are only some of the things that Acronis True Image is capable of. Some other features that merit a mention include Windows Vista and 64-bit computing support. It is a full-featured backup and archival tool, and yet manages to pack so many features in without a price tag that is not of reach to the home user. As mentioned at the start of this article, the importance of regular backup cannot be overemphasized, and those looking for a cost-effective yet comprehensive backup program need look no further than Acronis True Image 10 Home.

"Acronis True Image is also able to clone disk images — making a perfect copy of a currently existing disk"