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What Does Acronis True Image Really Do?

Subscriber Scott wrote to ask me to explain more about the function of Acronis True Image Home 2009 — just what does it do to make it worthwhile?

Terry –

I’ve read ads for Acronis in your’s and other newsletters. I even looked at their web site. The problem is that I really don’t understand what I’m reading! I DO back up all my created files (docs, picts etc) on an external drive, and I’m not worried about them as I back up weekly, or when necessary-whichever comes first. What I am worried about is my main drive C backup.

Does Acronis backup the "essence" or all system settings and tweaks that have been done to the system? If I even have to reinstall WinXP will Acronis "redo" everything as it was without my going through everything manually?

Can I put it on an external drive and/or a bootable CD (I haven’t gotten a DVD drive yet). Will I be "safe" is the basic question?

Thanks Scott

I wrote back to Scott to explain more clearly…

Acronis makes an image of one or more of your your hard drive partitions. I’m using the word “partition” because some people divide physical hard drives into multiple “drives” that Windows or other operating systems will see as if they were independent.

Think of the Acronis image as a Restore CD or Restore DVD, except instead of putting you back to the factory settings without your programs and data, it copies everything – and can restore an entire partition or any files and folders out of the image backup.

Acronis doesn’t back up the details – it backs up everything INCLUDING the details. All your Windows settings, all the system tweaks, all the programs you’ve added, all the data you have.

Can you restore Windows settings without the rest of the stuff? I don’t think so.

Can you restore a program directory? yes

Can you use it to add a program to a different computer? Probably not, as programs usually write critical configuration data into the Windows Registry – that’s how they make sure you can only install from their program installation CD’s or installation files.

Can you restore multiple data files and/or folders at the same time? Yes. Acronis True Image will “mount” an image as if it is a separate drive and get Windows to assign it a drive letter. Then, you can use Windows Explorer to copy from the image “drive” to your regular drive – even into a different folder on the regular drive than the information was originally.

Yes, you can put it on an external drive. You can also put it on DVD’s, but remember that youl’ll have to stay there swapping the DVD’s as each gets full. The DVD route would make the process of restoring _part_ of the image (files and/or folders) much more difficult. I would strongly recommend the use of an external drive.

Will you be safe? That depends on what you call safe, how often you make the full image backups and how often you make incremental backups of the changes (which have to be stored to the same place – another reason the external hard drive is a better choice).

It also depends on how many backups you keep… if you delete your only one to make a new one, and something goes wrong, you lose.

But, if you use Acronis to make recovery images, you’ll be much better off than if you don’t. Restoring from an image on an external drive might take an hour or so – compare that with the time spent just in reinstalling Windows.

If you ever choose to reinstall Windows, be sure to make a system backup with Acronis while it is clean of all the other stuff you’ll add.

Scott wrote back to say:

Thank you Terry – I’ll be putting in my order through your newsletter this week. I’ll have a little time to try to figure it out.

Thanks again – I appreciate the help and insight

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