By using Acronis True Image, I make an image of my C: drive (my C: partition) so that I can reinstall it in its entirety. This saves me from having to reinstall Windows, find all my device driver disks, find all my program disks and reinstall the programs, locating and installing all the add-ons that I want to use in Firefox, and many more such tedious tasks.
It also saves all my program configuration files and my data — it’s a big, custom just-for-me "restore file," just like a Restore DVD, but with my programs, my data and my program configurations already done!
In a comment on my Terry’s Computer Tips blog, a subscriber requested that I write about how to use Acronis True Image to back up to CDROM’s or to DVD’s, as many people don’t have home networks.
Rather than recreate all the images that are common between the "Schedule Task Wizard" (which I used in the other article) and the "Create Backup Wizard" that I’m using for the DVD example, I’m just changing the images that are different. (it doesn’t make sense to me to use the scheduler for DVD backups, since I wouldn’t be there to change DVD’s when needed.)
I’ve rewritten the article to step through the process of backing up to DVD’s instead of to another computer on the home network. The process is very similar, as are the steps to back up to an external hard drive (which I recommend that you do instead of backing up to DVD’s).
I’ve been using image backups of my boot partition since the Windows 95 days. I remember when I could back up a clean install, with all my extra drivers, Word Perfect, Netscape and my email program — and fit it all on one CDROM. If I needed to restore, from the start of booting a floppy to the final step of the restore, it took less than 10 minutes.
Of course, in today’s world, we have a lot more stuff on our computers. Sure, some of the stuff are the programs that we use regularly. Some of it is data that is critical to us. But, most of it is "stuff." Still, we don’t want the pain of losing it and starting over.
That’s where Acronis True Image comes in handy. I can restore the entire partition, or I can restore individual files and directories out of the backup image.
First, let’s take a look at the main screen that appears when we first start Acronis True Image.
Notice that it’s warning me that I have not scheduled a routine backup. I’ve been running it when I want to run it, by using the Backup and Restore selection. However, in this article, I’m going to schedule a system backup.
The process is almost exactly the same as making a backup now, but also has a setting to be automatically run (one of the choices is still to only run the "scheduled backup" manually, so you can safely use this option and still run it when you want to run it.
Obviously, our first choice is to select that we want to back up the system. Notice that "Validate" is also an option. If you’re going to run the backup automatically, I suggest setting up a similar session to Validate the backup a couple hours after starting the backup.
Then, you have the choice of backing up My Computer (you’ll get to pick which partitions), My Data (you pick which data), My Application Settings (you pick which ones) and My E-mail. If you pick My Email, ATI recognizes Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Mail. It doesn’t handle Thunderbird or Eudora or any other email program via My Email, but will back them up as part of My Computer (as long as you back up the partition/drive that holds them, usually C:).
Now, we can pick to back up whole disk drives or just the partitions we select. Or, we can back up only Windows’ system state.
The latter will let you restore Windows and its system files and drivers, but not your programs and data files.
The next screen lets you choose which partitions to back up. Notice that I’m backing up only my C: partition, which is where Windows, my programs and most of my data are stored.
There’s a checkbox selection at the bottom of the dialog box. By default, Acronis True Image will back up only hard drive clusters that are in use. Clusters are a logical grouping of multiple parts of the disk that is the lowest level that most programs access and which are made up of smaller units called sectors.
This checkbox allows you to tell Acronis True Image to include all sectors, whether they being used or not.
The next dialog box allows us to exclude hidden files and folders, system files and folders, and individual files or folders. Notice that I have selected the individual files and folders option.
The first two that I exclude are the Windows virtual memory file and my notebook’s hibernation file. If I have to reinstall from a backup, Windows will re-create the virtual memory file and the hibernation file, if they’re not one the partition.
The next screen reminds me that I have to choose between a full backup, an incremental backup and a differential backup.
The Backup Archive Location dialog box has one big, confusing design problem. The line that says Folder must end with a file name, otherwise the Next button is grayed out. In this case, I have selected to store my backup onto DVD’s in my internal DVD-R/W drive, which is E:.
The next screen reminds me of the difference between the two types of partial backups, incremental backups and differential backups. It’s also the place where I choose which type of backup I want — a full backup or one of backups that only pick up the changes.
The following screen lets me choose options for my backup, such as compression level.
Our final step before starting our backup is to review our settings. At that point, we can click the Proceed button to start the backup, or we can go Back and change some of the settings.
I’ve been very happy with Acronis True Image Home 11. I can backup directly to a DVD (or multiple DVD’s), to an external hard drive, to another partition on the same hard drive, to another hard drive in the same computer, or to another computer across my home network.
After backing up, I can verify that the backup image was a good copy. And, when I need to, I can restore entire partitions, entire hard drives, or individual files from a backup image.
If you have music collections, video collections, personal photos, business data, genealogical data, emails, web browser favorites, or just want to be able to restore your system and data easily if your hard drive dies, I think Acronis True Image Home 11 is the best solution.
Product: Acronis True Image Home 2009
Publisher: Acronis Inc.
License: Commercial software.
Operating System: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista.
New (optional: add a backup CD)
Upgrade from earlier version