By Greg Ross
The last time we reviewed Acronis True Image Home, it certainly had potential . . . but major bugs held it back from being our editor's choice. Today we take a look at the newest version of Acronis True Image Home. Did Acronis redeem themselves and produce a winning product? Or do we have another flop? Read on to find out.
Product Download & Installation
Acronis uses a standard Windows installer that most users will already be familiar with, and it only takes a few minutes and a few clicks of your time to install. Accept the EULA, opt out of their "Customer Experience Program," choose the method of installation, and enter in required personal information and the installation is complete one reboot later.
At least you hope it is that easy. On one system ATI 2010 crashed the computer and we only got the program working after several reinstallations. Your mileage may vary.
One of the first things we noticed about the newest version of Acronis was that the user interface has been redesigned. We were blown away at how well the user interface was laid out and how efficiently we could navigate through the program, perform various operations, and check up on system logs and other vital data.
The interface has a side menu to quickly access options for backing up the system, restoring data, viewing backup history and logs, using Try&Decide, and accessing extra utilities and features in the program.
Wizards for backups and recoveries are highly similar to the previous version of this program, but more streamlined. Users go through three quick pages to choose the backup source, the destination, and read through a summary to finalize the operation. Once those steps are over, you can be on your way or you can head over to the optional setup steps where passwords, priorities, schedules, or expensive online backups can be configured.
Partition Backup, File/Folder Backup
ATI 2010 is capable of archiving entire drives, partitions, specific files and folders, application settings, or emails. The included bootable CD can perform backup and recovery operations should the system become unresponsive, and Acronis continues to offer plugins for BartPE that allow users to create their own bootable CDs that include additional driver support.
While we have had positive experiences with most of these features over the last few versions of Acronis, the 2010 version set a new precedent -- all of the features worked (on one test system anyway). Acronis fixed the USB bugs and the file selection bugs that we reported on in the previous review, and for the first time in years we were able to set up email notifications that worked. It was also nice to see that you can insert variables into the backup archive file names, should you want/need the file name to contain information about the archive's creation date or contents. Dual backup locations are also an option for file/folder backups though the feature is noticeably absent from the partition level backup wizard.
It was not all cheer and glory however. On both our test systems the program would occasionally hang during an exit, preventing us from opening ATI 2010 without crashing the process in the Task Manager first. It never impeded the functionality of the program, but after reading through Acronis' forum it is a known issue. ATI was particularly cranky on our desktop as it refused to give us any time estimates for when operations would be completed. The program would stall in the initialization stage and then suddenly jump to the 'finished' stage 30 minutes later.
When investigating that issue, we did come across a chilling comment from Acronis' very own technical support staff. They did not recommend users restore partitions from within Windows. We tried this operation several times and had no problems, nor did we have problems with the latest builds of ATI 2010 freezing Windows 7 during out evaluation period. It goes without saying that you need to try this program for yourself before buying.
Nonstop Backup Performance
Nonstop Backup Performance is a new feature in the Acronis family, which runs incremental backups every couple of minutes to provide close-to-real-time mirroring of critical data and applications. It is a potentially useful feature, but is a complete flop.
We can forgive the fact that NSB does not support network file shares as backup destinations. But we cannot forgive all the problems that NSB introduced into our two test systems. On the desktop system NSB would only give us generic error messages and application crashes. On the laptop system NSB did work but at a great cost to overall productivity -- CPU usage regularly spiked, battery life was dramatically reduced with no way to turn the feature off only when running off batteries, and the laptop ran significantly hotter.
Acronis True Image 2010 is definitely a step forward in a lot of aspects, and some major functionality bugs were fixed in the latest release. But during our evaluation time we had two completely different experiences on our two systems. Either the program worked perfectly, or it had major kinks.
We really want to recommend Acronis True Image Home 2010, and we'd like to think that our experience on one of our test systems could have been fixed by reinstalling Windows 7.
The best advice we can give is to use the trial version of the program for 30 days and give it a healthy workout. Acronis True Image 2010 is certainly a step in the right direction for Acronis, and there is no reason to not at least try it.
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