Acronis True Image Home 2010

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Back up your entire PC
  • (9 more, see all...)

Acronis has made a name for itself in the computer backup and restore business through their flagship product, True Image Home. The application provides an easy means to create backup images of your data, including entire volumes or hard disks, offering a neat way to restore them at a later time.

It can also help you avoid reinstalling the operating system by snapping an initial image of the OS and then restoring it whenever you need a fresh Windows install.

Each release of the suite came with an enriched set of options, designed to cover as many angles as possible and make your job easier. This time around, the company introduced the possibility to convert Acronis backups (TIB files) to virtual hard disk data (VHD). Alternatively, any VHD file can be converted to Acronis format and loaded by the application as a virtual drive to see its contents.

A new, refreshed interface was on the list of the developer and the result is an application screen even easier to handle than the one of the 2009 edition. Some of the options have been rearranged to better fit your needs, simplifying the set of menus running down in the left hand side of the screen from seven, to six by integrating protection tools in Tools & Utilities. It may not seem like much, but long time users of the program will appreciate the change.

The three main menus in Acronis (Backup, Restore and Tools & Utilities) have been preserved in the upper part of the interface. However, they have received new options, such as Nonstop Backup or Online Backup. For the latter, you need to pay a regular subscription fee in order to use Acronis online storage. As far as Nonstop Backup is concerned, the feature acts very similarly to Windows’ shadow copy function, which regularly stores different versions of the files on your hard disk.

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The purpose of Nonstop Backup feature is to offer protection of data and even entire hard disks in case disaster on the protected volume strikes. Opposed to Shadow Copy under Windows, with Acronis you have control over the storage location of the backups. Also, the backup function is continuous, taking snapshots of the content every five minutes. In order to save as much space as possible, only the differences between the old and the new file version are preserved; you have full liberty of deleting any saved data you consider no longer of use.

Moreover, Acronis will first check if there is a modification before it commits to creating a backup. This way, it will not provide identical file versions. So, should there be no file change, the application will not proceed to backing up data. Recovering individual files is not a problem with Nonstop Backup. Also, turning off the feature brings absolutely no harm to the already saved data, and you’ll be able to restore it securely.

VHD support, fully embraced by Windows 7 to the point that the operating system can mount such files as virtual drives to see their content, is also present in Acronis. The introduction of VHD and providing it to third-party developers royalty-free by Microsoft has brought only advantages to the user. With the help of the latest Acronis, you can convert absolutely any Virtual Hard Disk file to TIB and vice-versa. Needless to point out the advantages of this procedure, especially if you take into consideration that booting from VHD is part of today’s reality.

More than this, True Image Home 2010 can help you set up booting from VHD image in a snap through its Boot Sequence Manager. Thus, you can work in the virtual environment instead of operating on the real system, as well as mount the image whenever you want and the data you need. The main advantage of booting the VHD directly as opposed to loading it in a virtual machine is speed, as emulation of hardware is eliminated.

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The ability to turn TIB system backups into VHD images gives you the possibility to load up the Acronis created file and boot it, thus verifying the integrity of the archive, as well as adding new elements. However, in order to proceed, make sure that you have enough hard disk space at hand. Just to give you a heads-up on the situation, in our case, a TIB system image of about 2.27GB was converted to a 6.54GB VHD that required 13.46GB to boot from.

Adding the bootable VHD to the boot manager list in Windows is not quite the job, even for the average computer user, yet, with the Boot Sequence Manager included in the suite, all this is a snap. Just browse for the system image you want to boot from (if it is a TIB, the program will have to convert it to VHD) and add it to the boot list. As soon as you restart the machine, you will find the alternative in Windows’ boot manager.

Virtualization of the operating system with Acronis can be achieved through its Try & Decide feature which, although not as popular as VHD images, fulfills a very practical role by allowing safe meddling with the system drive (or any other drive) without causing any actual damage. Unlike the previous True Image Home Edition, where enabling Acronis Secure Zone would be a must for virtualization to work, with the 2010 edition, you are free to set the storage location for the virtual changes to any place on the hard disk.

The best part is that all the modifications you make can be committed to the real system or discarded at the next reboot of the computer and thus revert the system to its initial state. Worth mentioning is the fact that you cannot select an external drive for storing all the changes made in the virtual environment. Also, defragmenting while Try & Decide is on, or running disk error checking utilities is not allowed as grave errors may occur, such as corrupting the file system or system drive to the point of making it unbootable. It is advisable to read the detailed context-sensitive help file that comes with the program before engaging tasks other than the regular ones such as installing new software, updates or testing programs that do not deal with rearranging the structure of the virtualized drive.

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Backup alternatives under the latest True Image Home are a bit changed as re-ordering and adding of new options took place. The new tasks available are Nonstop Backup and Online Backup, a subscription-based service that lets you store backups online. However, Online Backup is not available in all regions of the globe, but only where Acronis has set up its datacenters, in order to provide the best service possible.

Other than these two, all other backup options are present: backup of files and folders, system state backup, email accounts, address book and application settings. The backbone of the application, disk and partition backup, now benefits from a separate menu, but the procedure is fairly similar to the one in the previous edition, sporting a briefer wizard that runs you only through the required steps: what to backup and storage location.

Fine tuning the job such as schedule, backup method (full, incremental or differential), exclusion list, backup options (archive protection, commands to be run before/after, compression level, process priority, email notifications, archive splitting, error handling options and validation of the archive), as well as consolidation parameters and comments are included as optional steps of the procedure. This may be a bit uncomfortable for a long-time user of the suite accustomed to having all these steps included in the backup wizard, but a new user will greatly appreciate the simplification of the process.

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Among the changes of the newest True Image Home edition, there is the scheduling function. It is now much more flexible than ever, containing the possibility to specify the starting day for a programmed job or its frequency. Each scheduled task can be suspended for as long as you want, if the situation so requires (e.g. you’re in the middle of modifying the target location), with the possibility of re-enabling the task later on.

Task management is an easy way to keep a good tab of all the jobs run by the application. The module is so advanced that you have the possibility to view each step taken by Acronis for every job. Failed tasks (scheduled or unscheduled) are clearly marked in red color in the calendar, allowing you to view all the details leading to the unsuccessful event.

Next: Tools and utilities

Acronis True Image Home 2009
user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 

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