Acronis True Image

I have been using the Acronis backup software (or ATI, for short) for several years.  I use it for backing up Windows systems, and the windows parts of dual boot systems.  I am reminded of this, because I recently had reason to recover a system using an ATI backup archive.  Note that I discussed my linux backup methods in an earlier post.

The recent backup was due to a memory problem on my wife’s computer.  After some testing and experimenting, it turned out that reseating a memory module corrected the problem.  However, in the meantime — i.e. before we realized that there was a memory problem — the computer behaved in weird ways which included trashing the registry.  After correcting the memory problem, it seemed wise to restore from a recent backup, although the system seemed to be functional without that.

Why use Acronis when I’m an open source and linux kind of person?  It solved a backup problem for me.  If I were making that decision today, perhaps I would instead go with clonezilla.  However, ATI has a couple of features that I like.

  • It allows me to encrypt the backup archive.
  • It allows recovery of individual files.

With clonezilla, I would have to recover a partition to spare space on a disk, then copy the files from there.  With ATI, I can recover individual files or directory subtrees directly from the archive.

As for encryption, my main concern is that eventually all disks fail.  The external drives where I make backups are no exception.  And that means that the disks will end up in a recycling plant somewhere.  And there is a risk somebody could look for personal data there.  I could presumably achieve a similar effect with clonezilla, by formatting the external drives as LUKS/dmcrypt linux volumes.  But that would make it harder for my wife to recover if I am not available.

How I use ATI

I mostly make backup stand-alone.  I install the ATI software on one Windows system, and then  make a recovery CD.  Booting that recovery CD allows me to make stand-alone backups or do stand-alone recoveries.  I have purchased enough copies of ATI, so that I have sufficient licenses to cover the machines (two desktops and two laptops).  That keeps me legal.  However, I only install on one machine, and run from booting the CD even on that system.

Recovery experience

My experience has generally been good.  My first important use was with an older laptop.  I took a backup before resizing (shrinking) the Windows partition with gparted.  And that was just as well, because the system was somehow corrupted after the repartitioning.  A recovery from the ATI archive to the resized partition worked well, and I was back up and running.

More recently, I took a final ATI backup of a Vista system, before claiming that computer for dedicated linux use.  The Vista desktop was replaced by a newer Windows 7 desktop (the one that recently had memory problems).  I used the ability to recover a directory subtree from the ATI archive, to move some personal files to the Windows 7 system.  That recovery also went well.

And then there was the recovery that I did today, after fixing the memory problem.  And, again, that went very smoothly.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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