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Original article on Let's Talk Computers website

Listen to Acronis, Inc.'s December 15th, 2007 interview using:

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Restoring with Acronis True Image 11 Home Edition

Complete Transcript of Stephen Lawton — Acronis Interview — Host — Alan Ashendorf on Let's Talk Computers

December 15, 2007

Alan: If you’ve been using your computer for any length of time, you know by now, how important it is to always have a complete backup of everything that you have on your computer system. What happens if you cannot restore that backup? Then you really have nothing at all. Our guest today is Stephen Lawton, Senior Director of Strategic Marketing with Acronis. Welcome back to Let’s Talk Computers, Stephen.

Stephen: It’s always a pleasure to be back with you and your listeners.

Alan: Stephen, we talk a lot about how important it is to always maintain backups of everything that we have on our computer system. But now, with the Acronis True Image 11 Home, you have made it so easy to do backups — there’s no good excuse not to do backups. But, that’s only one part of puzzle. If you cannot restore your backups, it’s almost as if you never did backups at all.

Stephen: Restore is everything. And that’ really my mantra, when I talk about backup and restore. People have been backing up for years. You mention that companies do it all the time. But, did you know that a recent study of corporate backups showed that more than 1/3 of the backups that companies do — cannot be restored?

They put it on tape; the tape might get physically damaged. The tapes need to be rewound every single year to make sure that there’s the right amount of tension on the tape. A lot of companies don’t do this. There’s a tremendous amount at risk if you don’t treat your backups well — check them periodically to insure that the backup is still valid.

Incidentally, we have the ability now in Acronis True Image 11 Home to periodically check all of your backups and insure that they’re in perfect working condition.

Alan: Now, when you’re backing up you hard drive, you are usually just sitting there, doing it behind the scenes. You’ve got something else that you’re working on, (a spreadsheet or a document or your surfing the Internet.) But, when you’re restoring your hard drive, because it crashed, you’re not sitting there as happy as you can be; you’re in "panic city" and that’s when things have to work all the time.

Stephen: They do. And that’s why we advise everybody to not only create a backup, but to verify the backup and to verify their backups, periodically. Because, even a backup that’s sitting — let’s say out on a network drive — that network drive is not immune to glitches, to energy spikes. You want to go out and check all of your originals at least once a month, just to make sure if they’re still good.

Alan: And you allow us to verify the backup before we start to put the backup onto our system, because there is nothing worse that I know of than to have a failing machine and you think that you’re going to restore something that was really good in the past and now you find out after you have restored garbage upon garbage, that nothing works and now you don’t have any backups.

Stephen: That’s absolutely true. It’s so important to insure that the backups are valid. At worse, if you have a machine that’s failing, you can always use the Acronis Emergency Boot Disk and back up sector-by-sector, that entire hard disk — even if it’s failing. By the way, that is another new feature of being able to select the sector-by-sector backup from within Windows. Now, we give you multiple ways of protecting your valuable data.

There’s something new that we also offer with the Secure Zone. We have something called the Try and Decide feature. Now, I’m sure you’ve warned your listeners for years and years "Don’t open up an attachment from somebody whose name you don’t recognize."

Alan: Oh, absolutely.

Stephen: Don’t go to websites if you don’t already know that it’s a safe website. One of the new features in Acronis True Image 11 Home is this Try and Decide feature. We actually use the Secure Zone in that space that doesn’t have a drive letter. So, the operating system doesn’t actually see it. You can open up emails; you can download software and test new software. You can go to websites, where you’re not sure what you’re going to find there. And if anything bad happens while you’re visiting this website or opening the software — let’s say there’s a virus in an attachment — you can simply reboot your computer and that entire Try and Decide area goes away.

If you have a virus there, it’s gone — it’s off your computer; it never existed. Let’s say you try some new software and it works great and you decide, "Hey, I want to save this." You have the option to take that and we call it, "committing it to the hard disk". You click a button and you can save all of the work you’ve done and it’s now on your hard disk, because you already knew that it was safe and it’s good and you don’t have to re-do all that work.

Alan: You’re almost talking about like a virtual system — like a "sandbox" in a sense that everything’s going to stay in this one little box unless I allow it to get out of this little box?

Stephen: That’s exactly right. Users that are accustomed to or are talking about Linux or Unix will know what a sandbox is. That’s exactly the concept that we’re talking about here, where you have a protective area, where users can do all kinds of things. If it works that’s fantastic, it doesn’t work, you just delete it and it’s gone.

Alan: I know there are times where you need to restore your complete hard drive because something went down, like the hard drive, itself and putting in a new one. But there are also times, where you accidentally have overwritten a file or subdirectory and you just need to get that one back, itself. You can do that now, can’t you?

Stephen: You absolutely can. You can take an image — we call it "mounting" it as a virtual disk and let’s say you have a system where you have drive: C is your hard disk, drive: D is your CD-ROM. You could take this image and you would put it on your computer and it would come up on you computer as the next drive letter — in this case, drive: E and you can literally drag and drop files from that virtual disk back onto your system.

There’s something else you can do with that. Let’s say you made an image of your system and you find out, "Oh, my gosh, I just imaged a virus — what am I going to do?" You can mount that image, again, as a virtual disk, but then you run your anti-virus software against that image, clear out the virus and save that cleaned image as an incremental image and the next time you have to restore it, you have restored the image as a completely clean image. The virus is gone.

Alan: There are also times where you’ve made a backup and now I’ve got this one little file that I know I need to keep. Can I take that one little file and stuff it into this backup so I don’t have to back up everything?

Stephen: You certainly can. Just simply mount that image as a virtual disk; drag that file from your computer right onto to that virtual disk and then save the image.

Alan: Let’s say we’ve already done our backup and now we have some very important files that have been made after the backup. We don’t want that backup to write on top of those important files. How do we work that out? That could be a major problem.

Stephen: That’s an issue that so many users face — they’ll create a backup; they’ll keep working and something will happen to the system. When you restore an image, we now have the ability to select files and folders that would not be over-written when the old image is restored onto the hard disk. That means that once you restore that image, all of that work that you’ve been working on, all those new files will still be there when you reboot your system.

That’s something we have never been able to do before. We now have that ability to do it and users have been just pounding on our doors, asking for that ability.

Alan: That’s something that you don’t even have in the Corporate Edition, yet?

Stephen: We don’t have that in the Corporate Edition, yet; that is correct.

Alan: There are times that we have file on our system that we really want to make sure that they’re gone, forever. We may be donating a hard drive. We want to make sure these files are wiped. How can we do that?

Stephen: Acronis has a Product, called Acronis Drive Cleanser that we’ve offered for years. Like Acronis True Image, it’s a $50 retail Product. With Version 11 of Acronis True Image, we’ve now taken the Drive Cleanser and incorporated it directly into True Image. So, now not only do you have the ability to create images and create history, you also have the ability to wipe your disk, (to wipe specific folders or files; to shred files so they will never be found, again.) And I do mean — never!

We support a variety of data destruction algorhythms, several from the US Department of Defense. We also support German and Russian data algorhythms for wiping files clean. In addition, we support some even more advanced algorhythms that go well beyond what the US Department of Defense requires.

Alan: Companies and even home users when they get finished with their computer, they may donate it to a school or throw it away. The data that can be recovered off a hard drive is just astounding, isn’t it?

Stephen: Well, it’s funny you should mention that. A couple of years ago, there were some students from MIT who did a test — they went and bought some old disk drives from some used computer stores; they checked some dumpsters to find some old computers and they were able to find tremendous amounts of personal data, corporate data that still existed on these old drives.

There was a story that ran just last week that said that, a recent study showed that in fact, users haven’t learned anything. Roughly 37% of the disk drives that were recently purchased from used computers stores still had personal, confidential data on them.

With Acronis True Image, we now have the ability to clean that data so that it will never be found, again. And incidentally, simply formatting your hard disk will not destroy your data.

Alan: That data is still there — all that online banking information; all your checking information. You might get hold of a hard drive and you talk about identity theft — they have everything they need to just wipe you out, don’t they?

Stephen: Reformatting your hard drive, literally just overwrites part of the hard drive one time. Remember, we’re only dealing with one’s and zeroes. If you have just a single format, you’re changing only some of those one’s to zeroes. And that’s it. A lot of the data doesn’t change at all. What you need to do is to overwrite multiple times. And that’s the only way you’ll get your data really off that hard disk and fully protected.

Alan: Stephen, what are we looking at far as the price of the new Acronis True Image 11 Home?

Stephen: Now, remember, we’ve added the Acronis Drive Cleanser, which was a $50 value and we have added Acronis Migrate Easy, which was a $40 value. Acronis True Image Home still lists for just $49.99.

Alan: And do we have a Trial Version on your website that we can download and work with?

Stephen: There's a Trial Version that will give you 15 days of full capabilities of Acronis True Image.

Alan: Well, where can people find more information about the Acronis True Image 11 Home and all the other great backup Products that you have on your website? Where can they go?

Stephen: They can visit us at Acronis is also available from a number of download sites, such as TigerDirect, NewEgg , and so many other retail sites. Acronis can also be found in retail stores such as Fry’s Electronics, Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Best Buy.

Alan: I know this Product is so new that you haven’t had a chance to actually win any awards, yet. And you will, because all of your True Image Software wins awards, after awards.

Stephen: We do very, very well when we’re put head to head against our competition. Acronis True Image’s consumer products, as well as our corporate products have won quite a few Editors’ Choice Awards over the years from PC Magazine, from CNET, in Europe from PC Advisor and PC Pro. There are just so many awards. This year alone, in just the first six months, I think our number is around 60 or 70 awards.

Alan: Stephen, as always, it’s our pleasure to have you as our guest here, today on Let’s Talk Computer, talking about why it’s so important to have good, reliable backups of everything on our computer system. We look forward to having you back on the air again, real soon.

Stephen: Thanks so much. It’s always a pleasure to come and visit.