Acronis True Image review (Jan 2020 update)
True Image 2020 is a multifunctional software (backups, anti-malware, disk imaging) by Acronis, a global tech/data company founded in 2003. You’ve seen this product in our backup software blog article, and now we are going to present a full Acronis True Image review.
Acronis True Image is one of the best products in its niche, designed to perform data backup, recovery, OS migration, archiving. It also allows to create bootable media (USB stick, CD/DVD) for emergency cases, e.g. when the system does not boot. It supports HDD, SSD, FTP servers, CD/DVD/BD disks, USB, eSATA, FireWire, SCSI, and PC card storage devices.
Here’s a brief video introduction from the vendor:
True Image is available for Windows OS, Apple MacOS, iOS and Android. Minimum system requirements are as follows:
|Minimum system requirements for Acronis|
|Disk space||3.5 GB|
|USB drive space||600 MB|
|Screen resolution||1024 x 768|
For this review we used a trial version (some functionality blocked) on a Windows PC with 8 GB RAM and two logical disks. The interface is plain (bright colors, 17 languages) is divided into two areas: left sidebar menu and central action area. The menu consists of multiple features and settings, so let’s begin Acronis True Image review with features overview.
The first and most significant feature of Acronis is Backup menu for actual file backups and recovery. The window consists of two parts: list of backups and action area, the latter being a section to specify what, where to and what settings. As sources for backups the possibilities are:
- Entire PC - to backup all drives, a full copy of computer/laptop.
- Disk and partitions - to specify drives for backup.
- Files and folders - to specify exact files and folders.
- Files to notarize - similar to the previous one, only one can protect files from unauthorized modification (premium feature).
- Mobile devices - to backup files from a smartphone, tablet, etc.
Backup storage options include Acronis cloud, external drive, local drive, FTP server, SMB/NFS share, NAS/NDAS, network share. Backups can be password protected (encrypted), though note that a password can not be restored in case of loss.
There is an interesting option called Delayed archiving: click Additional options from the Back up now button dropdown, select to perform a backup in 1, 2, 4, 6 hours or later.
Each backup can be set up via the following options: schedule, notifications, exclusions (file, folder, file extension), and a few extra settings. Scheduler allows to do daily, weekly, monthly backups, as well as nonstop (starts in 5 minutes after modifying the data), do not schedule, upon event (user logon/logoff, connection of external device, shutdown/restart).
Backup lists can be sorted by various parameters such as name, date, update date, size, source type, destination type, newest/oldest. Activity tab is sort of a timeline. Recovery tab serves to restore files/folders or an entire backup copy. It conveniently displays a history previous backups so a user can select the one to recover.
Images of disks/partitions can be converted to VHD file format (virtual hard disk). If a disk image contains Windows 7/8/10 system partition, a PC can boot from it, however any changes will only be saved on that image. To convert TIB file to VHD, go to Backup section, click arrow-down icon on the disk image, select Convert to VHD option, and follow the instructions.
Unlike backup, archiving moves files to another destination, thus after it more free disk space appears. This is useful when you have important but rarely used files: pictures, documents, etc. You can get the files back any time. There are two ways to archive files in True Image: specify path to a folder or mark (tick the boxes) the files to archive.
Archives menu does not display every archive separately - to view those a user has to click on the View in File Explorer link to open Windows Explorer.
Strangely enough, we encountered a serious issue when performing a simple archiving task. After we’ve archived several files, 10 Mb in size total, and clicked “View in File Explorer”, both CPU and RAM utilization went through the roof. Then, we’ve also launched Chrome and Skype to see what happens, and ...our laptop froze, probably due to virtually no free RAM. And that was a small-size archive without encryption.
Sync menu allows file synchronization between PC and Acronis Cloud or another PC. This way, one can store the same files on multiple devices. Working on computer at home, later take a laptop to a cafe and continue to work there is one of life situations we all face. Files sync happens in real-time, i.e. instantly upon any change.
Surely there are certain limitations. We cannot sync disks and partitions, system files and folders, hidden folders, temporary files, system registry, databases, email accounts, Windows libraries. Also note, that True Image must be installed on each PC to use the Sync feature.
Using Acronis Cloud to sync with could be helpful when one wishes to recover the older version of file/document, as cloud storage saves each version of uploaded files.
To open a file on another device, you have to launch True Image there, log into account, navigate to Sync tab, click Join Sync and choose a folder to store data. In this scenario, a user can restore older versions too, although this feature is not present in Standard license.
NB: Those are not all features, of course, we’ve just touched on a few crucial ones. There are also full image backup, survival kit, Office 365 backup, notification center, cleanup utility, encryption, anti-ransomware, etc. Some of those tools we’ll mention now, so let’s proceed with our Acronis True Image review.
Tools sidebar tab contains various complementary features, some of which are quite interesting. Let’s go through them briefly:
- Clone Disk - to create a full copy of OS onto HDD/SSD (check How to clone drive). It is not available in the trial version.
- Rescue Media Builder - to create bootable USB/CD/DVD for recovery, if the system does not boot.
- Acronis Universal Restore - to restore backups to dissimilar hardware. Parallels Access - to remotely control PC from mobile devices. It requires a Parallels account (not Acronis account).Try&Decide - to freeze the system or disk and make changes without ill effect.
- System Clean-up - to remove passwords, history, temporary files, etc. We recommend to read more on the topic at PC optimization software.
- Acronis Secure Zone - to create a secure partition (only FAT32 file system) for storing backups and protect it by password.
- Acronis DriveCleaner - to wipe hard drives of private data, which could be handy when selling a laptop, for instance.
- Acronis Startup Recovery Manager - to launch Acronis without Windows, e.g. if the system does not start. It is not available in trial.
- Third-party tools - from partners of Acronis, such as Log Viewer, WinPE-based Media Builder.
Frankly, we were not expecting to mention malware and ransomware in Acronis True Image review, which is a backup tool primarily. But as data and files could get infected and carry malware during data transfers, this is actually a relevant component. And Acronis provides it.
Acronis Active Protection is a feature against ransomware and crypto-mining. Dashboard displays information about activity, monitored processes, files, memory, etc. Users can input permissions for EXE files that are manually added to Managed processes list.
During our tests and use of True Image, this feature has not manifested itself in any way (positive or negative), so we can’t judge it. Learn more about Best anti-ransomware tools.
Subscription pricing for True Image ranges from $49 per year per 1 device to $159 per year per 5 devices. There are 9 plans in total for various configurations, which is pretty flexible for users.
|Acronis True Image pricing|
|One-time purchase||1 year subscription||1 year subscription|
|$59.99 / 1 PC||$49.99 / 1 PC||$99.99 / 1 PC|
|$119.99 / 5 PCs||$99.99 / 5 PCs||$159.99 / 5 PCs|
Now we have neared the most vital part of Acronis True Image review: testing. We have tested the app on a laptop with Windows 8.1 x64 and 8 GB RAM. There are two logical disks on a hard drive. On a second remote computer we use SSD as storage. Both devices are connected via 1 Gb LAN.
Disk C (150 GB) is the system disk hosting Windows OS, that has been in use for 6 months. 130 GB of it is in use, and in addition, we have added one folder (17 GB, default entries) to the list of exclusions before starting test backup. So we have 113.2 GB to backup here. For this part we keep the default settings: incremental backup method, low operation priority, normal compression level.
Test 1. We launch backup procedure for disk C. From 113.2 GB Acronis takes 102.7 GB to save (reasons and algorithms undisclosed). Normal compression ratio in True Image appears to be around 50%, turning those source 102.7 GB into 53.5 GB at the end. It takes roughly 45 minutes in total.
Test 2. Disk E (150 GB) is the second logical disk on our laptop, hosting 45 GB of data. 35.5 GB of those are assigned by True Image (leaving out critical/system files, we guess?). Backup process here lasts 13 minutes, and results in 18.1 GB archive, which, again, proves a typical compression ratio of ~50%.
Data from these 2 backup tests is summarized here:
|Acronis True Image backup tests|
Compression ratio, %
Test 3. To see what happens under different compression ratios, let’s run 4 types (none, normal, high, max) for the same folder to compare. “Users” folder on disk C, containing 92K files and 33 GB in size, will do. In it we have pictures, videos, audio files, documents… pretty typical stuff.
We make a backup of this folder 4 times in 4 different compression types. As we see, even None does result in a tiny size reduction. However, do not expect huge compression when put on Max. Acronis recommends using Normal ration, as the optimal one.
Compression ratio, %
A quote from Acronis website:
“The optimal data compression level depends on the type of files stored in the backup. For example, even maximum compression will not significantly reduce the backup size, if the backup contains essentially compressed files, like .jpg, .pdf or .mp3.”
Test 4: Recovery. Flipping sides to imitate situation when one needs to restore data from a backup, we take backup archives created in Test 1 and 2. We find out that the speed of recovery is a bit higher than the speed of backup. See a summary here:
|Acronis True Image restore tests|
Acronis True Image review: Conclusion
This utility is a “working horse”, worthy of acknowledgement. It is functional, flexible and packed with extra features (disk cloning, anti-ransomware, survival kit, cloud storage, etc.). At times it causes high RAM and CPU consumption, but other than that we haven’t faced any real trouble, bugs or crashes. All the tests on (intentionally) low-spec laptop have proven real aptitude of this backup tool.