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Backup Systems and Services

Acronis True Image 2014: Still powerful and feature-rich, now easier to use

You might think Windows has you covered with its own imaging/system backup, but there's still a need for programs such as Acronis True Image. Windows' built-in utility is extremely limited and reacts badly to new hardware. True Image handles bare-metal restore and diverse hardware without hiccup. Owners of recent versions of True Image probably won't find anything particularly compelling about this latest rendition, as only the online service is really new, but the new interface is a breeze to use. It also takes Acronis Backup to the cloud for the first time.

If there's one thing that stands out about the latest version of True Image 2014, it's how friendly it is. Gone are the poorly rendered dialogs and oddly phrased instructions. The interface is clean, efficient, and simple. You can perform a backup without answering a confusing stream of questions. All the options advanced users want--including password protection, sector-by-sector backup (the program defaults to backing up only occupied sectors),  pre- and post-run commands, splitting (or not) of files, and validation--are still present. They're simply hidden away in a very cleanly organized dialog.

True Image 2014 can perform file and image backups, one-off backups, multiple tracked backups, incremental, differential, scheduling, notifications, and more. There's really no imaging trick from the last fifteen years that the program doesn't have in its bag. In addition, if your laptop lacks a boot-time recovery option, True Image will provide it. The SecureZone and Try and Decide options are still available, and there's a full list of secure erase options. You can even convert Windows backups to Acronis's format, and vice-versa.

In keeping with modern times, there's an online backup option in Acronis's own Acronis Cloud. You get one year of 5GB (enough only for data, not system backups) for free with the program, but after a year, or for more storage, it'll cost $10 per year for 5GB, $30 a year for 50GB, $40 for 125GB, and $50 for 125GB. That's highly competitive pricing.

Every imaging or backup program should feature the ability to create disaster recovery boot media--ideally, both CD (for older systems), and USB flash drive. The ponderousness of TI's older boot media forced me to abandon previous versions of the program, as it wasn't good for older, memory-challenged PCs. R-Drive Image is better for those. True Image 2014's rescue disc still requires 512MB of system memory, and the new interface isn't implemented, making it less friendly that the Windows UI. However, Acronis provides the means for adding it to a Windows PE boot disc, though it's not as simple a process as it should be.

If you're more than a version or two back on True Image, the 2014 version is well worth a look. If you're new to backup products, simply know that it really doesn't get any better than Acronis True Image for the average user, though I recommend R-Drive Image for pros.

Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

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