Barry's rigs 'n reviews

March 15, 2007

by Barry Little

Original article at Barry's rigs 'n reviews web site

  1. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 1
  2. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 2
  3. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 3
  4. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 4
  5. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 5
  6. Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR. Part 6

Acronis True Image 10 Home Review @ BRnR

The files created by Acronis True Image during backup are referred to as archives, and have a .tib (short for Acronis True Image Backup) extension. Acronis True Image does not back up the Windows paging or hibernation files, and it only backs up the sectors on the disk that actually contain data. This saves time during backups and restores, and reduces the amount of space required for the archive file.

  • Let's get backup started.
  • What's great about Acronis True Image 10 Home, is not only that it's completely wizard-driven, but it gives clear and easy-to-follow information on each step of the operation as you perform it.
  • I want to create a disk image so I can fully recover my system from a disaster without spending a day and a half reinstalling the OS and all my software, so I'll select My Computer...
  • ...then the entire drive.
  • Click OK here and check the little box if you don't want to see this information again.
  • I'm going to backup to my Buffalo TeraStation NAS.
  • And I'm going to create a full backup archive.
  • Since I've already set Acronis True Image's backup defaults to my liking, I could just click Next to continue here. Note here that you can go back and change those defaults if you want, without having to quit the Create Backup Wizard and schlep through the Options Menu again, and then starting the Backup Wizard all over again.
  • You can also change the options manually for this particular job...
  • so. OK, let's step back and move forward.
  • You can add comments to the backup archive, which does make your life a little easier come restore time and you've got dozens of archive files to sift through.
  • We're all set. You can click the Back button to go back and make changes if you want. Otherwise, click Proceed to launch the backup.
  • And away we go. The actual time it takes to create and verify an archive will vary depending on the hardware and backup target media used. An Acronis True Image icon will also appear in your Windows System Tray displaying the operation's status.
  • Backup and verification complete!
  • Here's a summary of the operation in Acronis True Image's Event Log.

Not only can you access and restore individual files and folders from archives by mounting an image archive as a "virtual disk," but you can also load file-by-file archives directly in Windows Explorer with the new Explore Backup Archive feature. Another new and cool Acronis True Image enhancement is that you no longer have to be in Acronis True Image to backup a drive, folder or file. Acronis True Image 10 Home's new One-click Backup feature allows you to right click on a drive, folder or file in Windows Explorer and select Backup from the menu. Acronis True Image will launch with the selected item marked for backup.

Acronis True Image 10 adds the ability to backup to an FTP server. The FTP server must allow the passive mode for file transfers, and backup archives must not exceed 2GB in size (here's where Acronis True Image's Archive Splitting comes in handy). Ports 20 and 21 on your firewall must be open for the TCP and UDP protocols, and the Routing and Remote Access Service under Windows must be disabled.

When launched from Acronis Recovery Startup Manager or any bootable rescue media, Acronis True Image 10 Home can now back up to and restore from Network Direct Attached Storage Devices (NDAS). You'll need the 20-character NDAS Device ID and 5-character Write Key to connect to the NDAS device, which will appear as an additional hard drive.

Acronis Startup Recovery Manager & Acronis Secure Zone: Acronis True Image's "Plan B"

It always pays to have a "Plan B" waiting in the wings for most things in life, and backups are no different. Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and Acronis Secure Zone are Acronis True Image 10 Home's "Plan B".

Acronis Startup Recovery Manager allows you to run Acronis True Image directly from your boot drive before Windows loads. It accomplishes this feat by overwriting the MBR with its own proprietary boot code. On boot-up, right after the last of the information generated by the BIOS has scrolled by, you'll see a prompt to press the <F11> function key to start Acronis Startup Recovery Manger (if you do nothing, Windows will boot shortly after the prompt disappears). You'll be presented with a menu that will allow you to either run the full version of Acronis True Image, boot to Windows, or Exit (which reboots the system). Using Acronis Startup Recovery Manager's version of Acronis True Image is pretty much like using it from bootable rescue media or directly in Windows.

  • Because you cannot backup an archive of your primary drive volume directly onto itself, Acronis Secure Zone creates a special partition on the drive that allows you to do so. In Acronis True Image 10 Home the Manage Acronis Secure Zone option under the main task window has been moved under Create and Configure Backup Locations...
  • The Manage Acronis Secure Zone Wizard.
  • Select the drive and click Next.
  • Acronis Secure Zone borrows unused space from your hard drive to create its partition. You can adjust the size with the slider or radio buttons next to the Partition size: dialog box...
  • so. If you're creating Acronis Secure Zone on your system partition (as I am here), take care not to reduce the system partition to the minimum size — or you may end up with an unbootable hard drive.
  • After you've sized Acronis Secure Zone to your needs, you're presented with the option to password protect it — a good idea on a laptop.
  • Next you can select whether or not to enable Acronis Startup Recovery Manager, which modifies your hard drive's Master Boot Record and allows you to load a copy of Acronis True Image at boot-up time before Windows.
  • Once you've made your choices, you have one final opportunity to abort the operation. To create Acronis Secure Zone and activate Acronis Startup Recovery Manager, click Proceed.
  • The operation will complete when you reboot. Acronis Startup Manager (if you selected to install it) and Acronis Secure Zone will be created at boot-time before Windows loads (your system may reboot several times during the process).

Acronis Secure Zone is a special partition that can be created on any local hard drive, where you can store Acronis True Image backups. The partition is created by borrowing available unused space from the drive and can be dynamically resized as needed without losing any backup archives stored there.

Most PCs have a single hard drive installed, or two or more drives in a RAID volume, which appears as a single drive. In both of these instances, the single drive and RAID volume are boot drives. Normally, you cannot use any program — not even Acronis True Image — to create an image backup of a drive to itself. With Acronis Secure Zone installed, this is no longer a problem. Acronis Secure Zone can be used in conjunction with Acronis Startup Recovery Manager to provide you with a protected location (Acronis Secure Zone cannot be seen by normal Windows applications) to backup your local drive. While you can install Acronis Secure Zone without Acronis Startup Recovery Manager, you cannot install Acronis Startup Recovery Manager unless Acronis Secure Zone is created before or during the installation and activation of Acronis Startup Recovery Manager.

  • Here's the log entry that outlines the operation after it's finished.
  • This is the drive after Acronis Secure Zone has been created. Note that Acronis Secure Zone cannot be seen or accessed by ordinary applications. This protects the backup archives created and stored in Acronis Secure Zone from viruses and other malware.
  • Let's create a backup in Acronis Secure Zone. Make sure all the drives you want to back up are checked except Acronis Secure Zone itself.
  • If you check Acronis Secure Zone, you'll get this message. As you can see, there's no point in including Acronis Secure Zone in the backup, so leave it unchecked.
  • You don't need to worry about creating a name for your backup in Acronis Secure Zone — it will do that for you automatically. Click Next and follow the usual steps in the Create Backup Wizard to perform the backup.
  • Let's say that you discover later on that you need to make Acronis Secure Zone bigger. No problem — select Manage Acronis Secure Zone...
  • ...and run the wizard.
  • You're presented with the option to either resize or remove Acronis Secure Zone. We want to resize ours, so click Next.
  • Select the drive to borrow the additional space for Acronis Secure Zone from, and click Next.
  • Adjust the size as needed and click Next.
  • Click Proceed to finish the operation. The PC will reboot and Acronis True Image will do its pre-Windows thing again. Also note that you will NOT lose any backups that are already in Acronis Secure Zone when you resize it.
  • Removing Acronis Secure Zone is just as easy.
  • Select the drive to return the free space that Acronis Secure Zone borrowed and click Next.
  • Click Proceed to remove Acronis Secure Zone. Obviously, you will lose all archives stored there, so make sure you have a duplicate set or at least a current Acronis True Image backup stored somewhere else to fall back on before you pull the trigger.
  • Unlike creating and resizing Acronis Secure Zone, you won't be prompted to reboot when removing it and returning the free space to your hard drive.

There are a number of advantages to using Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and Acronis Secure Zone:

  • You'll always have a copy of Acronis True Image ready to revive your system without the need for bootable recovery media.
  • When you perform backup to Acronis Secure Zone, you don't have to worry about naming your backup archives — Acronis Secure Zone does it automatically for you.
  • Since the usual "overhead" of running under Windows doesn't enter the picture and Acronis Secure Zone is installed on a local hard drive, backups and restores will be faster than they would be going over a network or removable media.
  • Using Acronis Secure Zone will insure that all full and differential or incremental backups will be kept in the same location, which is crucial if you need to restore your system to its last good functioning state.
  • A new feature for Acronis Secure Zone in Acronis True Image is the ability to password protect Acronis Secure Zone to prevent unauthorized access to backups with sensitive data (very useful for laptop users).

There are some disadvantages, however, to Acronis Secure Zone:

  • The main disadvantage is that if your primary hard drive crashes with Acronis Startup Recovery manager and Acronis Secure Zone on it — you've lost everything — including any backups you could have used to recover your system. You're a little better off if Acronis Secure Zone is on a second hard drive in your PC dedicated for backups — but not much if that drive fails.
  • There is no quick and easy way to copy the backup archives stored in Acronis Secure Zone to an external hard drive or to CD/DVD media for safe keeping.

Third-party boot managers will probably have to be re-enabled or re-installed after activating Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. Acronis highly recommends that Linux loaders like LiLo and GRUB should be installed to a Linux root or boot partition rather than the MBR before installing and enabling Acronis Startup Recovery Manager.

Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and Acronis Secure Zone can be removed at any time as easily as they were installed. Removing Acronis Secure Zone returns the unused space it borrowed from the partition of the hard drive it was created on, and any archive files that were stored there.

Remember, although Acronis Secure Zone is an excellent fall-back option, it's just that — a fall-back option. You should not rely on Acronis Secure Zone as your only backup strategy with Acronis True Image, but as a supplement to a more comprehensive strategy that involves backups to additional removable or non-removable media to eliminate as many "single-points-of-failures" in your backup routine as possible.

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