This is an Acronis True Image 2018 review of the latest edition of the personal backup software from Acronis. The article will give you a quick introduction to the new features in this release as well as the core features of the standard and advanced versions of Acronis True Image 2018.
I am always anticipating the annual ati releases and this release was certainly no disappointment. Every year I wonder how Acronis is going to come up with new features because you´d think there is a limit to ways that you can back up data.
It certainly must be quite a struggle to re-invent yourself as the creator of a product with such a specialized purpose. Nevertheless, I find that Acronis manage to keep Acronis True Image fresh and appealing to existing and new users.
In some ways, this is perhaps the most interesting release since Acronis True Image 2015.
Table of Contents
New features in Acronis True Image 2018
At first glance, the program hasn´t changed much, but looks can be deceiving. Under the hood Acronis True Image 2018 is packed with new as well as improved features.
The user interface hasn´t changed much and existing users of ATI will feel right at home despite smaller changes here and there. I am also happy to see that the core backup options remain unchanged, such as backup scheduling, backup schemes, advanced options, etc.
With the release of Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation Premium in January of this year, Acronis moved into new territory with the launch of ransomware protection. It was an unexpected but nice new feature to add to a personal data protection plan.
However, ransomware protection is no longer reserved for the premium edition which leaves the premium version behind as an option that seems irrelevant to most users of a home/semi-professional backup suite.
New feature lineup (Selection):
- Ransomware protection
- Active protection dashboard
- Backup activity and statistics
- Mobile backup to NAS (Network Assisted Storage)
- Backup settings transfer and import (Re-introduction)
# Ransomware protection
By far the most noticeable difference to the standard Acronis True Image 2018 version is the addition of active ransomware protection. This was an exclusive premium feature when it was introduced with the New Generation Premium edition of ATI 2017.
In some ways, this is an odd feature to find in a backup program and not in an anti-virus/firewall software. Yet these days I am simply happy that someone has bothered to do something about the looming thread of ransomware attacks.
In many ways, it behaves like a firewall by monitoring the activity on your pc or mac. If an unknown process or even a benign acceptable process behaves like malware the active ransomware protection will block the process. You will then get a notification asking for your decision to block or trust the process in question.
Hopefully this will just just be one of your programs that are trying write to some registry in the operating system. You then have the option to white- or blacklist the “perpetrator” if it is a process from a trusted program. A fine example could be the Java update on the image below.
Time will show how well this feature works. Just like it´s the case with our antivirus efforts we, as consumers, don´t really have a way of knowing how well these things work.
# Active protection dashboard
This is where you can see the ransomware active protection 2.0 in action. The system notifies you about suspicious activity on your computer. You can then determine whether act on the information.
You will get many tips on suspicious activity just like you are probably used to from your firewall or OS alerts, but some standard programs simply behave in a way that triggers these programs without being harmful in any way.
Adding a process to the trusted list is easy. However, it would have been convenient if you could simply drag and drop the approvable suspicious files into the trusted zone or use a right-click command directly on the application list.
# Backup activity and statistics
Even though I have never really missed these features, they could turn out to be rather useful.
The activity section offers a convenient overview of when the backup has last completed as well as what kind of backup that was used.
Statistics gives you a rough snapshot of how much space the different kinds of content take up on the hard drive.
# Backup settings transfer
With this edition, an old feature is being re-introduced to Acronis True Image. “Backup settings transfer” was removed in Acronis True Image 2015 for some reason. The feature can make your life easier if you are someone like yours truly, who likes playing around with computer hardware and needs to re-install the OS from quite often.
While you can always restore files from an older ATI setup, it used to be tricky to continue a backup setup in a new ATI installation and it was usually easier to simply create a new backup.
This feature makes it easy to move a backup setup around.
# Mobile backup to NAS devices (Network Assisted Storage)
If you own a NAS you are going to love this feature. It is no longer necessary to turn on your computer to create a local backup of your phone or tablet. This feature enables you to back up your mobile device directly to the NAS via WI-FI.
# Mobile backup now includes memory card backup
Up until this point the mobile backup was limited to the integrated memory portions. While this wasn´t an issue for iPhone users, it was a huge limitation for Android users where the use of extra memory cards is almost a given.
It´s good to see this feature added!
(Untested at the time of writing).
Improved features in Acronis True Image 2018
# Improved Acronis Cloud experience
The Acronis Cloud user experience has been improved to a point where it almost feels like a new service.
The scattered cloud areas from earlier have been collected into a coherent online dashboard where you can now switch between the different areas without opening a new browser tab every time you go to another section.
However, I do miss a simple access button to the cloud area. Apart from entering Acronis Cloud directly from a browser, the only access point seems to be via the recovery process in the backup or sync area.
It really seems like an oversight since the option used to be a part of the dashboard tab that has been removed in this release.
# Improved rescue media builder
Creation of WinPE media with the Acronis rescue media builder (Win10 users)
# Faster incremental and differential backups
Incremental and differential backups are now significantly faster due to a continuous tracking of data changes. The difference is significant and you will hardly be able to notice when the backup runs in the background.
# Mobile and social media backup has been moved
With the removal of the dashboard tab, mobile and social media backup has been moved to the backup source area which makes a lot more sense.
# Improved backup progress indicator
The backup duration time indicator now seems to finally be working. This seemingly simple function has not been working properly since the release of ATI 2015.
First time buyer – Is ATI 2018 the right choice?
Acronis True Image 2018 is the personal backup suite from Acronis for PC & Mac. They also have a professional line of products, but Acronis True Image is the perfect choice for personal, small business or home office backup purposes.
It offers incredibly easy file backup and recovery. As the program name indicates it also offers a disk image feature. This can help you avoid downtime if you have a disk error or other kind of computer breakdown.
While file backup probably needs no introduction, a disk image is a more advanced and extremely powerful kind of backup that may not be known to the average computer user.
What is a disk image?
The very short explanation is that a disk image is used to create an image of your main drive which will then include everything on the drive including the operating system, boot sector, programs, etc. The true power of a disk image is that you can be back up and running after a computer breakdown in no time.
If you keep your personal or work files on the main drive, the image will include these files. However, I highly recommend not to use this feature for your everyday file backup. The feature was not created with this purpose in mind. As such, it will take up unnecessary disk space and it can be messy when you need to recover something.
The highly profiled “Entire PC” backup method is in fact such a disk image and even an extended version at that. This means that it will include everything the program can get its hands on. This includes USB drives, sticks, internal drives and NAS, so as you can imagine this backup can get huge. As such this is feature that should be used with caution.
Instead I recommend that you keep your data separate from the operating system in a special folder or preferably on a separate drive. Then use the “files and folders” backup method.
If you want inspiration for setting up a backup routine I recommend you read my article on the topic here.
ATI backup features also include:
- Automated backups
- Backup schemes
- Mobile backup
- Social media backup
# Automated backup
The scheduling section of the backup creation enables you to determine when the backup shall run. You have so many ways to choose from that everybody can find a schedule that fits, such as:
# Backup schemes
The backup scheme area is where you set the behavior of the backup. This means things like whether you want full backups every time or if you just want the changes to be backed up with a new full backup at intervals.
You can choose between variations that are based on:
- Full backup
- Incremental backup
- Differential backup
For a detailed explanation on the differences between the methods you can watch my ATI 2016 review and tutorial:
Subscription or perpetual license?
One of the things that I have always liked about Acronis True Image, is that you own the software instead of the terrible new subscription trend, which is quickly turning us into subscription slaves.
From a business point of view, it makes a lot of sense to create recurring income for the company. For the user…..not so much in my opinion!
Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction that Acronis is going. However, you can still choose to buy a real license of Acronis True Image 2018 that you can use for as long as it will run on your computer. Personally, I certainly hope this option will remain. For example, I just installed my old 2013 version to make some comparisons and it still worked perfectly on Windows 7.
Acronis seem to have upped the quality of their support. Getting in touch with them could be a bit cumbersome in the past, but recently I have had a couple of minor licensing issues where they came through in style.
In the recent weeks I have used both, the chat and e-mail options and both have worked fine. At one time, they even called me up on the phone to follow up on a support ticket. I don´t think I have experienced that before from any software vendor.
I would categorize the Acronis support as well above average.
Is Acronis True Image 2018 a worthy upgrade for existing users?
Generally, I think it´s a good idea to upgrade your software on a regular basis. Perhaps not every year, but at least often enough to stay eligible for discounted upgrades.
From a pure backup feature perspective, Acronis True Image 2018 will not be life changing for ATI 2017 users. Nevertheless, I still think this is an extremely interesting upgrade because of the active ransomware protection. Time will tell how well it works, but these days it´s a comforting feeling to be proactive about the ransomware threat.
Also, some of the other features are nice additions that will help sweeten the 30-dollar upgrade deal. In particular I think backup activity, mobile backup to NAS and “settings export import options” are really nice and useful additions.
Read more about the Acronis upgrade option here.
Whether you are looking for your first backup program or a replacement of the old program, I absolutely recommend Acronis True Image 2018. I have used ATI with great satisfaction since version 2009 and I have only skipped a couple of versions since then.
Acronis True Image is still the backbone of my efforts to keep my data safe and I use it every single day. Setting up scheduled backups is a breeze and you can tailor the backup schemes exactly the way you want.
Even though ransomware protection feels a bit out of place in a backup program, it certainly feels good to be proactive about the hopelessly annoying ransomware threat.
On the cloud side of things, I think the choice to only support Acronis Cloud is getting a bit old. Of course I get business advantage from forcing the users to use their own Cloud product, but it surely is an annoying limitation for the users.
I suppose you can find a cloud storage vendor that offers SFTP access and set it up that way. However, this seems like an unnecessary hassle with all the available cloud storage options we have these days.
I think a less protective approach to cloud backup in the next ATI release could win over many new costomers to Acronis.
- Solid backup schemes
- Automated backup
- Disk imaging
- Ransomware protection
- Mobile backup to PC, Mac & NAS
- Memory card backup on Android devices
- Huge improvement in Acronis Cloud user experience
- “Entire PC” backup feature concept is misleading
- All cloud features are limited to Acronis Cloud
- Narrow slider bars that are difficult to grab