Acronis True Image 2021 review: The consummate do-it-all package
A first-rate backup solution, True Image may be more than you need, but it’s hard to fault
Whenever we look at backup software, Acronis True Image is never far away from the top of the pile. And there’s a good reason for that: it really does do everything. The standard package handles local backups of files, folders, disks and partitions, while the clear, tasteful front-end makes it both quick and easy to set up any number of backup sets, each with its own schedule and destination.
For those who like to take full control of their backup strategy, meanwhile, there’s plenty to configure. Want to alternate between full, differential and incremental backups? No problem: you can use a predefined scheme or create your own, with fully configurable cleanup rules. Backups can be secured with a password, and you can even create an entire encrypted virtual volume on a local drive to protect your archives and other personal data.
True Image is speedy too. It took just 25 seconds to mirror our 2GB backup archive to an external hard disk, and a very reasonable 97 seconds to transfer it to our NAS drive. The light compression that’s enabled by default only managed to squeeze our folder down to 1.98GB, but it didn’t add a single second to the total operation time.
The suite is rounded off by an Active Protection feature, which preemptively blocks suspected ransomware processes from accessing your files, and a sprinkling of system maintenance tools, including a wizard for creating Windows or Linux-based disaster-recovery media.
The one thing that’s not included in the basic package is cloud backup. If you want that, you can instead opt for an Advanced or Premium annual subscription, which respectively include 500GB and 1TB of storage on Acronis’ servers. Again, performance is a strength: while Acronis couldn’t keep up with IDrive’s speedy upload rate of 1.23MB/sec, it averaged a creditable 0.9MB/sec, securing the whole folder in under 40 minutes.
It’s also impressive how elegantly cloud support is integrated into the mix. Acronis Cloud appears in the application just like any other target device, and while you can’t set a single job to back up to both local and remote destinations, it takes mere moments to clone a local backup job and point it to the cloud instead.
Dig into the settings and you’ll spot a few differences between local and cloud tasks. Compression and scheme options are preconfigured for off-site backups – which makes perfect sense – and to make the most of your cloud storage allowance you can specify how many old versions of files to retain, and how long they should be kept before being purged. The password-protection option remains, meanwhile, with all encryption performed locally so your data is only ever transmitted and stored in protected form. Uniquely among its rivals, Acronis also lets you choose which locale you want your data to be stored in: the company’s US data centre is the default, but we switched this to Germany, and you can also choose sites in France, Japan, Singapore or Australia.
If you’re looking for a catch, it’s the price. £34 is a lot to pay for a local-only backup suite. The likes of Ashampoo Backup Pro 14 tick a lot of the same boxes for less than half the price, and those with more modest needs may well find everything they need in a free package. The £29 annual subscription option is even less enticing: it could be a decent deal if it yields a significant upgrade every year, but at this point there’s very little that needs adding. Compare this 2021 edition to the 2019 release and you’ll find that two years of progress equates to little more than some new system tray notifications and customisable battery settings.
The cloud-enabled subscriptions also feel uncomfortably expensive, at £52 per year for the 500GB Advanced package and a whopping £73 per annum for the 1TB Premium service - excluding tax. To be fair, in addition to online storage, these packages now include the company’s antivirus and web-filtering engines, freshly transplanted from the company’s Cyber Protect Cloud product. These have achieved strong scores from independent security testers, so a True Image subscription could allow you to ditch your third-party antivirus software. Even so, there’s no escaping the fact that IDrive’s personal plan offers 5TB of storage for a lower price.
None of this diminishes the software itself, though. Acronis True Image is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive personal backup system out there, and its user-friendly interface, strong performance and decent set of secondary tools don’t hurt at all. With the pricing structure as it is, you’ll probably want to examine some of the cheaper options on the market before splashing out on True Image 2021 – but if you do end up investing in Acronis, you’ll be getting a first-rate backup solution.
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