Acronis True Image Home 11
== What is it? ==
The files on your computer like music, photos or the operating system like Windows, are just saved as ones and zeros on your hard drive. Acronis True Image is a disk imaging program. It makes an exact copy of the data on your hard drive, saving it into one compressed file known as an archive. It is like taking a photograph; it captures and saves everything on your hard drive at the time you make the backup. In future, you can use this file to restore your computer back to the time you made the backup. You can save the archive file onto an external hard drive or DVDs. You can then explore this to recover particular files or if your computer has a virus, then you can use this file to go back to the stage when your PC was working normally without having to go through the hassle of reinstalling Windows, your favourite software, user settings and drivers.
It can make an image of any drive so you have a backup of it in case your computer dies or has a computer virus. Using this, you can be back up and running again in less than 20 minutes.
This is aimed at home users and small businesses.
== My Experience ==
I only use this to create an image of the partition/drive that Windows is installed on. I make an image once I install Windows onto a new PC along with all the software and drivers that I will use. I will focus on this feature primarily as this is its main purpose, but it has other features as well that I will try to mention at the end.
The application gives you the option of making a bootable / rescue disk which contains the full version of this program by burning it onto a CD / DVD. You can then use this disk to load up the program and backup and restore images, even if Windows won't boot up. I would recommend that you do this. I have found it very useful when Windows Vista refused to boot up. I used the bootable DVD to load this application. The DVD whirs for a while when you press the power on button and then after a few seconds the main application screen comes up. I had already saved the backup image onto an external hard drive which I then used to restore the image and make windows load again.
The main screen of the application is well laid out. Just click on what you want to do, either backup and restore or create bootable media. It uses wizards to guide you through for the main operations. You mostly need to click on the next button and on screens where you need to choose any options, it clearly explains what each one does.
It can take 2 to 3 hours to make a backup image depending on the size of your hard drive. However, restoring an image, usually takes me less than 20 minutes. During both procedures, you get a countdown of the estimated remaining time. While creating the backup image, you can continue to work in Windows but while restoring an image, it will need to reboot to carry this out.
One feature I like about this is that you can restore an image from within Windows Explorer. You need to highlight the backup image you want and right click. Choose on restore image . . . and the Restore Image wizard will pop up on screen.
== Problems ==
It has a few quirks. When creating a backup image, you need to make sure you don't put any spaces in between the filename of the backup image. It will make the backup image but it won't recognise it when you try to restore it. You can't change the filename after you've made the backup, as the program will refuse to accept it. I end up using the underline symbol if I need to use spaces.
It supports 3 types of backup: normal, incremental and differential. A normal backup is a full backup and will backup everything on your hard drive and will therefore take up more space and more time to complete. I find the file size can vary from 10 GB to about 20 GB when creating an image of a 60 GB drive. This is the type of backup I prefer using.
An incremental backup only saves files that have been created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup you made. This is useful say if I install some new software and I make an incremental backup image after I've installed it. This means you end up with a smaller backup file which can be created more quickly, but you need to have made a normal backup first.
I've never used differential backups but they sound pretty similar to incremental backups.
I have tried creating incremental backups but I have never gotten the program to recognise the backup archive file when trying to restore it.
The program has worked well in Windows XP and Windows Vista Home Premium (32 bit) editions. Although, I have had problems with Windows 7 (32 bit). It creates the backup image fine of my Windows 7 machine but after restoring it, Windows refuses to boot. I had to use the Windows 7 setup DVD and do a repair installation.
== Other features ==
It has a few extra features which I've never used myself but I've listed for anyone who may be interested. These were taken from the information that came with Akronis True Image:
- A file-based backup option, which enables you to back up and restore individual files and folders, like your My Documents folder, your music, video and photos or some specific file, like your latest tax return.
- You can also back up your applications settings. If an application seems to malfunction or ceases to run you are supposed to reinstall it using the last updates and then recover your settings from the backup.
- back up messages, accounts and settings for Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003 and Microsoft Outlook Express and Microsoft Windows Mail.
- Try&Decide feature. Performing potentially dangerous changes in the system, such as installing new software from the internet can be a risky operation as it may lead to system instability or even worse add Viruses or spyware to your computer. You can now safely perform these potentially risky operations. When Try and decide is turned on, all the changes performed will be transparently recorded on a virtual disk automatically created in Acronis Secure Zone. At any time you can decide if you want to validate the changes you made or discard them and therefore revert the system back to its previous state.
- Disk Cleanser, File Shredder, and System Clean-up - Securely wipes data stored on an entire hard disk, individual partitions or in individual files and eliminates all traces of user activities in the system.
== Summary and recommendation ==
When it works, it works well but when it doesn't, it can be a great pain in the bum. I have found it easy to use with Windows XP and Vista but Windows 7 has given me a lot of problems.
The makers of this program do say that this version doesn't officially support Windows 7.
I still use this on machines that I install XP onto but for Windows 7 Ultimate, I use the in-built backup software that comes with it.
I use this to fix my PC, whenever I think Windows is starting to slow down after a few months use or whenever I install some new software that messes up my settings. It is very easy to restore my PC to a time when it was working well.
Saying that, I would still have to give it 2 stars for the fact that when it doesn't work, it can give you a really bad headache.
Acronis True Image 11 is a disc imaging software package that's designed with the noble aim of backing up the contents of your computer. From photographs and music files, to actual applications and emails, True Image claims to do it all easily and quickly, while also giving you peace of mind.
As well as providing a backup solution for pretty much everything you can think off including any user settings you may have, the software gives you the ability to roll back an installation of software that's causing problems (for example a game you've installed). Include in the software are security and privacy tools that clean up your computer and erase your tracks such as cookies.
Sounds like a dream doesn't it?
Sadly it was more like a nightmare.
Installing the software on my computer with Window Vista (64-bit) couldn't have been more difficult. It took four attempts between complete freeze up's and error messages. When the software finally installed, it couldn't see my second internal hard drive (which is identical to my master drive in brand, capacity, and specifications.) No matter what I attempted the software refused to believe it's existence. I wasn't the greatest failing, there isn't much on that hard drive so I was willing to let it pass. However my problems with the software were just getting started. Included in the software are some security and privacy tools that did absolutely nothing on my computer. They said they were doing something such as deleting history in Internet Explorer, but when I checked the history would still be there. The so called File Shredder is less useful than a empty swimming pool (metaphors were never my strong point) it doesn't even delete the files that it's meant to be making 'unrecoverable' from your desktop.
The software interface isn't the easiest to understand nor use, and can be tricky to confirm backups the way that you want.
Three days after installing True Image I switched on my computer to be bombarded with a number of error messages along the lines of "File Not Found" it didn't take me long to work out that the software had somehow become corrupt. I attempted to do a repair installation without much luck, so I had to do a system restore to remove the software (ironic considering that's what this software was designed to do) followed by a registry clean up, and finally a complete fresh installation of the software (which only took two attempts this time around). However it didn't solve any of my problems.
I did consider the possibility that it was me that was doing something wrong, or something on my computer such as Ghost Surf for example was interfering with the software so I decided to email their technical support and detailed the problems that I was having. That was more than two weeks ago and I'm still waiting on a replay.
I did like the "try and decide" option, which is a software safeguard that allows you to try new or potentially damaging software out on your computer while giving you the option to discard any changes at any time. This worked well and I found it especially useful because I still tend to play a lot of older computer games such as Star Craft or Cyber Storm. Such games can cause problems when you have to start playing around with system settings, and in some cases installing emulators, but you can try them out risk free.
The software claims to be Vista compatible, but with so many problems it's hard to imagine it being any more difficult or useless. Maybe despite the fact that my computer works perfectly it just didn't like something I was running in the back ground. For all I know it could have been my Internet Security Suite that was causing some of the problems but I personally doubt it. Without a replay from Technical Support there is no way to be sure, if the problems lie within the software or not.
However considering the problems, the time I've spent, and how valuable your computers contents can be, I can't in my right mind recommend this product to you despite it having one useful feature.
I've you're looking for a backup solution then look somewhere else. In the mean time I've reverted to copying and pasting anything I want to back up over to my external hard drive. Not an ideal method but far better and more to the point safer than this.
(I'm a reviewer on Amazon, and some my reviews are copied from there to dooyoo. Please feel free to check out my Amazon profile under my real name of Mr Andrew M Kerr.)