Acronis True Image is an easy-to-use and robust solution for protecting files and disk images in the cloud. It’s not the best value for storage on a per-gigabyte basis, and it’s mobile and web apps aren’t especially reliable, but the service does offer a ton of useful functionality, including active file protection and full-disk backups. Acronis True Image also lets you back up different file sets on independent schedules and was among the fastest in our upload tests.
Acronis says it uses end-to-end encryption (AES-256) to protect your files and that it is designed so that the company has zero knowledge about the content of your backups. Users can set up a local encryption key (non-recoverable if you forget it) that is never sent to Acronis for each backup set, as well. Acronis’ data centers are protected from a physical security standpoint (fences, biometric access checks, and video surveillance) and can continue operating in the event of a power loss for 48 hours.
Acronis’ installer is large, and it takes several minutes to run through its process. Afterward, you need to sign in to your Acronis account or create a new one. True Image’s interface is straightforward, with seven flat buttons along the left rail, and large, clearly labeled buttons throughout for various tasks. It’s one of the most visually compelling of the services we’ve tested, despite all its extra features. It uses color sparingly and consistently, which makes the design visually informative.
To set up a backup, you first need to decide whether you want to protect your entire hard drive—the default—or only specific folders and files. Acronis True Image mirrors your complete hard drive in its interface and to select a file or folder for backup, just check a box next to it or at the top of the menu to select everything in the current view.
Next comes the choice of destination. The most obvious option is Acronis Cloud, but you can also use an external drive or a local folder. A few other online backup services, such as IDrive, throw in local backup software as a bonus, but with Acronis, it’s a core feature. In fact, the Acronis True Image software for online backup is identical to the True Image local backup software, except for the online option. Note that you cannot specify local and online targets simultaneously, which is something competitor Zoolz BigMind allows.
Once you select a source and target, simply click the green Back Up Now button or delay it until a specified time. Before you run the process, you can also choose a backup schedule, such as Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Nonstop backup options. With the Nonstop option (also referred to as Continuous), the software detects updates to files and uploads them automatically. You can create as many Nonstop backup tasks as you like, except for those that use the Entire PC option as the source.
In the Advanced options section, you can change the number of file versions stored (the maximum is 20 for all noncontinuous backup schedules), create a local encryption key, and set upload speed and system priority levels for the operation. You can even direct Acronis to store your backup at a particular data center among its worldwide locations.
The Upon Event scheduling option includes trigger choices such as user login, logoff, system shutdown, restart, or startup. You can also set the program to shut down your computer when the backup completes. Note that Acronis True Image integrates with the File Explorer, so you can right-click to add files to your backup or generate sharing links.
Acronis’ Archive tab analyzes your folders for unnecessary files and offloads them to an external drive or cloud storage. You can set it to run through your files automatically or select files individually. Additionally, like the Backup tab, it lets you encrypt said data or choose which data center to use. These archives are accessible via the File Explorer or through the web interface.
There’s also Sync, which keeps a folder accessible and up-to-date across devices. From the desktop application, the Sync tab lets you create a default folder to use with cloud storage or just between a few chosen computers, with the option to add cloud syncing later. The files and folders are also accessible from the web interface as well as from mobile apps. Sync worked as advertised in our testing, but it doesn’t save multiple file versions.
Acronis True Image provides simple restore options for each one of the backup tasks you set up. You just select a backup task, navigate to the Restore tab, pick some or all of those files (with point-in-time recovery options available via a dropdown menu), and then hit Continue. From the Advanced Settings tab, you can instruct Acronis to restart your computer after the restore completes, overwrite existing files on your local drive, and control the task’s priority for computer resources.
Acronis keeps a respectable 20 versions of files for up to six months, but SOS Online Backup retains unlimited versions forever. IDrive keeps the last 30 versions of files, but it does so forever. Restoring a full hard drive with Acronis is just as simple, though the process obviously takes longer. It’s sort of like Windows’s System Restore feature, except your recovery data is in the cloud.
You can recover files via the web client, too. Unfortunately, the software doesn’t show an expanded file tree view of your folders. Instead, you have to navigate down through each level of your hard drive folder structure to get to the desired file. This can be a slow process. After you select a folder to restore, Acronis sends you a ZIP archive, as is standard.
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