With improved cloud backup and recovery, True Image remains our choice for backup
True Image 2014 is the latest version of Acronis’s home backup software. It’s long been one of our favourites, with the last five iterations all receiving top marks from our reviewers, but today it faces more competition than ever from cloud-based alternatives. Acronis has responded by embedding its own cloud service in the last few versions, but with True Image 2014 it’s possible, for the first time, to back up and restore an entire system from the cloud, storage space permitting.
This year we’re reviewing the Premium edition of the software, which includes a few features not found in the standard version. These are mostly geared toward administrative tasks such as restoring and migrating an installation to new hardware, but there’s also support for Windows’ dynamic disks. While these are rarely used by system builders, you may have them if you’ve chosen to create a striped or spanned disk set from within Windows Disk Management instead of using your motherboard’s RAID feature. It’s worth checking within Disk Management if you’re in any doubt.
All versions of True Image 2014 come with 5GB of Acronis’s own cloud storage for a year, which is only enough to offer an additional safeguard for critical documents or a modest music or photo collection. You can upgrade this to 50GB for £25 per year or to 250GB for £40 per year. At the time of writing Acronis is bundling a one-year 250GB subscription with the standard edition of True Image for an extra £10. A one-year 250GB subscription is included for free with the Premium edition, which is good value if you plan to use cloud backups extensively.
PLUS CA CHANGE
Our first impression of True Image 2014 was one of familiarity. Very little has changed in the user interface since True Image 2013, which is a good thing. The product opens with a Get Started screen that provides quick routes to back up or recover data, plus simple graphical introductions to the key features, but the full functionality is gathered into tabs spanning Backup and recovery, Synchronisation, and Tools and utilities.
The getting started screen is uncluttered and helpful for novices
You can create a backup containing selected files and folders, or use disk mode to back up an entire disk or the partitions on it. While previous versions of True Image allowed you to back up files and folders to the cloud, True Image 2014 also lets you back up disks and partitions to it. It’s good that cloud storage is integrated in this way, but for the vast majority of users the first full backup, containing all of the computer’s data, is likely to take a long time. A 250GB upload could take more than 20 days on a good ADSL2+ connection capable of 1Mbit/s upstream, provided it doesn’t exceed your broadband account’s data cap. Unfortunately, the program queues backup jobs instead of tackling them in parallel, so a slow cloud backup could hold up any subsequent local jobs.
You can backup and restore an entire PC to the cloud, but it’ll be slow over a typical home broadband connection
Cloud restore operations are likely to be far quicker thanks to faster download speeds, but we found that recovery from the cloud isn’t handled as neatly as the backup itself. Restoring from an online archive opens True Image’s interface in a browser; you then need to log in and download a zip archive of the data you want.