Acronis True Image Review

Strengths: feature-rich, customizable, provides excellent system protection

Weaknesses:  moderate learning curve, some advanced features problematic and may not work as expected, easier to use and less expensive software is available if you do not require a system backup and only need to protect data files

Bottom line: recommended

Latest version: 2014

Operating Systems: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/Home Server 2011

    Few things are more important than regular backups of your data.  With Acronis True Image, you can securely and reliably protect your data from the pitfalls of hard drive crashes and lost laptops. Acronis is my pick for home users, but my recommendation comes with some reservations.

    Acronis creates image backups of an entire system. So everything--emails, documents, photos, even the system OS--can be restored with the click of a button.  Backup files can be saved to a variety of media, including external hard drives, NAS devices, DVDs, or even online. 

    Restoring individual files is very easy.  The backup image can be mounted like a hard drive. You then can browse the "drive" and copy any file.  Of course, what makes the Acronis such a useful product is its ability to restore an entire system drive. Whether you are replacing a defective hard drive or upgrading to a bigger disk, Acronis makes the process simple.  Best of all, the result is a bootable drive (with a system and files) that is a mirror image of your original disk.

    Acronis gets high marks for its usability. The entire backup process can be automated to run quietly in the background on a schedule of your choosing. Or, you can make a backup on demand. Modern computers have little difficulty handling the backup process, so you can continue to do other things on your computer while the backup is being made.

Acronis Key features:

* can make incremental and differential backups, saving only changes since the initial backup

* option to protect backup files with AES 256-bit encryption

* real-time, nonstop backup option ensures the backup file that is always up-to-date

* free Android and iOS apps syncs data between all devices

* 5 GB of online storage included free

* highly customizable backup routines allow the user to exclude certain files

    Although I have used Acronis for years to protect my system I do hesitate slightly in recommending it. A quick look at the Acronis help forum explains why. Like many of the posters there, I've encountered a variety of issues and incompatibilities. While most of the problems have been minor, I have on one occasion been left with a backup that could not be restored despite my best efforts.  As it turned out the failed backup was my fault, but that was little consolation when I could not restore my data.  So while I do recommend this program, be aware that reading the manual is a must and if possible do a test restore of your backup on a spare drive to make sure that you understand the process.

Buy from Amazon: Acronis True Image 2014 (DVD)