Review of Acronis True Image 2015 for PC from Acronis – Build: 6525. 

Acronis True Image 2015 for PC and Mac enables you to backup your computer in a more structured fashion including automatic backup. Unfortunately, backup is a topic that many shy away from, thinking that it is technically demanding and that it takes complex and expensive software and hardware. This is a shame because it is in fact easy and can be handled by anyone with basic computer skills.

I use Acronis True Image 2015 for PC for the traditional backup part of my backup routine. In this article and video I will share why and how I use Acronis backup and this article and the demonstration video is loaded with tips on how to use Acronis True Image 2015.

  • How to use Acronis True Image 2015 for PC or Mac to secure your data, easily and automatically.
  • Demonstration of how to backup your computer with Acronis True Image 2015.
  • Features and different backup methods.
  • Why you should choose a paid over free software, Acronis or some other respected software, when there are other and even free alternatives.

TIP ► ATI 2017 on sale on Acronis.eu and other international Acronis sites!

If you prefer a video demonstration ▼

Acronis True Image 2015 backup

The Acronis backup feature is just one part of this software and is the topic for this particular article.

The other major feature is the full disk image creation feature which I will get back to in a later article. While this is an extremely powerful feature, I am reluctant to mix it up with the concept of every day file backup.

Acronis True Image 2015 has received an all new look. While the program has an improved user experience, generally I am not too crazy about this new app look that a lot of software gets now. I hope this is not a looming hint of a switch from a full license approach to a cloud based subscription approach which would be a terrible shame.

Acronis True Image 2015 main features:

  • File backup (custom, incremental, differential, version chain, single version)
  • Disk image creation
  • Disk cloning
  • Scheduled backup
  • Advanced backup features ( ex. encryption, compression, backup splitting etc.)
  • Cloud synchronization (Only Acronis cloud storage)
  • Remote control from smart devices

Program layout

The main layout of Acronis True Image 2015 is divided into 3 vertical work areas:

  • Toolbar
  • Backup control area
  • Work area

Acronis software layout

Toolbar

Acronis toolbarThe toolbar is where you select the program features and offers five tabs:

Backup

The backup section is first on the list and contains the most prominent features of Acronis True Image 2015:

  • File backup
  • Disk image creation

For most users this is where you´ll spend most of your time when you use Acronis. This tab is also the default view of Acronis.

Sync

Acronis offers a subscription based cloud synchronization feature. As such the feature is not a part of a standard license and access must be purchased separately.

This feature can only be used with Acronis Cloud and users who subscribe to other cloud storage may miss the ability to hook up with other services with this feature.

Tools

The tools tab contains a handful of features:

Acronis tool tab

Most important from the toolbar you have:

• Clone disk

Clone disk is a very handy tool to have ready if you are running out of disk space on your system drive or if you drive is showing signs of trouble.

With clone disk you can move your entire system to a new hard drive and continue working as soon as the copy process is finished.

• Rescue media builder

With this feature you can create a rescue file or disk that you can use if the boot section of the System drive is damaged. This way you can boot the system as long as only the boot section is damaged.

• Universal restore

When you need to restore you system to a hardware configuration that is different from when you created the backup.

• Help

A very straight forward and intuitive help menu. You will find links to specific help areas while setting up your backup.

Acronis help

My backups area

Once selected, the upper level backup area becomes available. This is where you manage your old and new backup setups. Here you create, edit and delete backups.

Work area

This is where you choose what to back up and where to store the backup. Please read on for more on this area.

► Creating a new backup

When you create a new backup you will be prompted with the option to select a source and a destination. When you choose ”select source” you get 3 options:

Acronis source selection

I will categorize them as follows:

A: Disk image creation

  1. Entire PC
  2. Disks and partitions

B: File backup

  1. Files and folders

1: Entire PC

This is part of the disk image creation feature. This will effectively create a copy of your entire system; operating system, programs, settings, files and all. And it will do so whether you have 1 or more drives in your computer.

So as you can see on the image below, this solution is problematic for someone who has more than one large hard drives installed.

Entire PC size issue

While it could be argued that this is in effect a backup of your computer, please keep in mind that when you recover this disk image, everything will be back in that particular state. Yes, your files will be in the state from the time of the “backup”, but so will everything else!

This means that any kind of program update, security update or any other kind of change that you have made to your system since that point in time, will not be included in this disk image and will be lost after the recovery has run.

My advice is to only use the disk image options in this program for situations where you specifically want to create a backup of a system state. This could be in a case where you have a production scenario running and that you can not tolerate downtime.

If you need to backup of work and personal files, then what you need is the files and folders section!

Disks and partitions

If you are using more than one hard drive and need to create disk images, the disks and partitions option is a much better and more controllable way to go. As you can tell from the image below, it is very clear what selections options you have.

Acronis disks and partitions selection

Files and folders

Now we have arrived at the file backup section. This is the actual file backup where you can choose your work or personal files that you wish to secure without including the OS or program installs.

The way you can simply ad checkmarks to the files and folders that you need to backup, is so wonderfully straight forward. Especially if you have your files organized in as few folders as possible.

Acronis files and folders selection

Once you have your selections done you are ready to choose the destination. Once more, you have 3 options:

  1. External drive
  2. Acronis cloud
  3. Browse for a local destination

File backup with the ”files and folders” option

Now it´s time to adjust the options to your needs. A large part of this is to decide how often and how the backup should work. This part presents you with 5 tabs:

  1. Schedule
  2. Backup scheme
  3. Notifications
  4. Exclusions
  5. Advanced

1: Schedule

Apart from the ”do not schedule” at the bottom the options here are mainly concerned with time and and ”upon event”.

Time

Acronis time scheduling

Upon event

Acronis upon event scheduling

2: Backup Scheme

Now you must determine the characteristics of the backup. Acronis True Image 2015 offers the three typical backup schemes as well as a couple of conveniently ready-made variants thereof:

  1. Single version – Based on the full backup
  2. Version chain – Based on the incremental scheme
  3. Incremental
  4. Differential
  5. Full backup

Acronis backup schemes

1: Single version

Just as the name says, this is a setup where you keep only one backup which is replaced when the next is created.

Of course data safety is a matter of preference and the importance of the data in question, but I think is almost needles to say that this option is somewhat risky.

2: Version chain:

Based on the the incremental scheme this is a ready-made setup that creates 5 full cycles of full backups and in-between increments. When the 6th cycle is created the first cycle is deleted and so forth.

3: Incremental

The incremental scheme is based on cycles of one full backup and a number of incremental in-between backups. You have many choices how to set this up including how many in-betweens you want between full backups as well as how many cycles you want to keep before the oldest are replaced.

The individual increments contain only the changes that have been made since the latest increment. Each increment is dependent of the previous increments and the latest full backup. This means that while this is a fast and space conserving method it also contains certain vulnerability. I will explain this after explaining the differential scheme.

4: Differential

The basic scenario is the same as the differential scheme, one full backup and your chosen number of in-between backups.

However, each individual in-between contains the changes from the latest full backup and each in-between ignoring any previous in-betweens. This way it is safe to say that data safety is somewhat stronger than with the incremental scheme.

The result is a backup cycle where the accumulated size and the time it takes to run the in-between backup increases more than is the case with the incremental scheme.

Example to help you choose:

If you have an incremental and a differential cycle of 1 full backup and 5 increment versions and you somehow loose version 3. The result for each scenario is:

1: Incremental

Changes made after version 2 is lost for good. Only version 1 and 2 are usable.

  • Advantages – Fast backup and low disk space requirement
  • Tradeoff – Slightly vulnerable

2: Differential

Since each in-between is a separate entity only version 4 is lost. Version 1,2,4 and 5 can be used for recovery.

  • Advantage – Better data safety
  • Tradeoff – Increasing backup time and disk space usage

Your choice

So in the end, a choice between the two schemes comes down to:

  • Your preferences
  • Definition of acceptable data loss
  • Data importance
  • Distance between full backups

Full backup

The last backup scheme is the full backup which is also my personal favorite.

This is a complete and self-contained file backup of any given point in time. Here you have access to similar options about how many versions keep before the oldest is replaced.

My preference of this scheme is supported by the fact that I run an independent synchronization strategy parallel to my real backup. If I didn´t, I would definitely run the differential scheme instead of a full backup cycle.

After doing all this research on the matter I am actually considering to run a differential scheme as an added safety measure.

Notifications

You can have the program send you an e-mail about the status of your backup.

Exclusions

I would just leave this at default. If you ever find a need for this feature, you are most likely someone who doesn´t need me to explain.

Advanced

The advanced section offers additional functionality that could theoretically be left untouched without consequence.

However, if you want further control or have special needs you can find some great features in this section.

Acronis advanced backup options

To mention the most important features you have:

• Backup protection

The backup file is enclosed in a *.tib file format and is not directly accessible. If you want further privacy you can add a password to the file. On top of that you can add AES encryption to the password.

• Backup splitting

You can split your backup into smaller portions if you need to store it on CD, DVD or Blu-ray. Also, you can split your backup for added security and keep the parts in different locations.

• Validation

You can have Acronis validate the integrity of the backup.

Why pay when you can find free-ware?

This is definitely a valid consideration. You can find a multitude of different free backup solutions and before I found Acronis True Image I was indeed using some free solution.

My justification to invest in a 50 dollar range program like Acronis True Image 2015 is that I feel much more confident that the program will remain available since there is financial revenue to the creators involved. Using a commercial software means that you can expect security updates, support and mostly discounted new releases.

Also keep in mind that Acronis True Image is a standalone license and that it is neither cloud nor subscription based.

Some things to be aware of with “free” software:

  • Many free programs are stripped down commercial versions with the quickly revealed option to upgrade to a paid version with more tempting features.
  • The competition in the arena of free software is fierce and usually they need to make money somehow. So be wary of funny extra installs and small “presents”. This can be things like annoying browser ad-dons, PC cleaners, anti virus software etc.
  • If the download area has a shady look, please do yourself a favor and continue your search to save yourself from the latest malware.

Free versus paid software example

A fine example of free vs. paid software is former, very popular free encryption software called “True crypt”, which I used for several years myself. The software was in fact absolutely free without a catch. At the time when the end of Windows XP support was announced, True crypt simply announced that the software would no longer be maintained.

Woops, there I was with 16 terabyte of data that had to be re-encrypted. Was that annoying and time consuming? You bet!

Sure, companies can be sold, close or simply discontinue products, but when you choose popular commercial software there is a much bigger chance that it will remain available and maintained.

Your precious data

In the end, what it comes down is that you do not loose any data. It is also a matter of scale of course. If your data pool consists of a few personal files and photos, a simple copy routine or a primitive free backup program might do the trick.

However, if you would like to automate things so that you do not forget to backup or postpone to do so on the wrong day, a cheap and semi-professional solution could be the answer to how to backup your computer.

Acronis True Image 2015 for PC and earlier versions has served me extremely well for over 6 years and this program is my recommendation to you if you are looking for a powerful and reasonably priced backup program. Acronis offers a 30 day trial version which you can try out at your convenience.

In a home office or small business scenario a program in the 40-70$ price range will be all you need. With a 50$ price tag Acronis True Image 2015 for PC or Mac feels like a good balance of price and features.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Fast
  • Automated backup
  • Disk image feature included
  • Full software license
  • Fair price

Cons:

  • Some concept mixing. While the disk image feature is great, it is still a more advanced tool that should not be mistaken for a straight forward file backup solution
  • Cloud synchronization is limited to Acronis Cloud