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I have just removed Acronis true image 2014 from my laptop and breathed a sigh of relief. Backup software should make you feel that your computer is safer than it was before, Acronis did not.

— Update 2016-01-03 read about my new approach to backup

–update 6 June 2014–

I am now using StorageCraft ShadowProtect and it is working very well. Read about my experiences here.

Acronis’ interface and messages are so chaotic that one is in perpetual state of anxiety about where one’s data is and what progress has been made with either a backup or recovery.

Acronis has perhaps the most comprehensive set of features of any backup product. Unfortunately they don’t seem to work, or more exactly they don’t work very well for me.

Non-stop backup is unreliable

I created an Acronis Secure Zone (i.e. hidden partition) on my laptop’s C drive and set non-stop backup running. This creates an incremental backup every 5 minutes and is intended to allow the recovery of accidentally deleted files. It can also be used to restore the hard drive if the operating system is corrupted and won’t boot but there is nothing wrong with the disc. This is particularly valuable for people like myself who travel with their laptop and don’t have access to the backup archive.

I “tested”  The file restore functionality by accidentally deleting 18 GB of files but a after many hours the restore crashed.

Acronis non-stop frequently stopped during the day for no apparent reason and would either start will not start at boot at random.

When it is running it seems to impair performance.

Restore from archive is buggy and slow

The primary use case for backup software to create a remote archive. I set the nightly job to create differential backups to my Windows Home Server.

Having failed to restore the files from the non-stop backup archive I used the restore functionality to restore them from the nightly tape archive. Although Acronis may have been restoring files there was very little CPU or disk activity and after an hour or so I cancelled the restore. I used the Acronis image mounting facility to mount the archive as and image and then copied the files out using Windows. This worked well and showed a data transfer rate of 5 Mb per second. Although I have nothing to compare this with it seems a bit slow.

Removing the Acronis Recovery Zone

When I attempted to remove the Acronis Recovery Zone the PC simply locked up for half an hour with no feedback about progress. I held my nerve and went and had a cup of tea. Eventually I did get control back and the zone had been removed but the software never prompted me to return the unallocated storage to the primary partition.

Summary

Acronis could argue with justification that they cannot be wholly responsible for the performance of backup and restore operations in a world where hardware and networks are so varied. However the user interface and user feedback is appalling and these are under their control. I think it is reasonable to assume that this careless attitude may apply to their core backup and restore functions as well.

I will now trial StorageCraft ShadowProtect.

 

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