Long-time reader Janusz Lukasiak wrote recently to point out some basic differences between Karen’s Replicator and Acronis True Image Home.
I use and recommend both for backing up your data and your system, but the summary of my recommendations that’s in the newsletter doesn’t have all the details that are in my various articles on the two programs.
Janusz points out a possible problem falacy in using only Acronis True Image Home to back up your computer.
In your latest newsletter
"Why use both Replicator and Acronis True Image Home, if we can restore individual files from both? Replicator will always have the latest version it backed up […] With Acronis True Image, we can have multiple versions of the files to choose among."
This is undoubtedly true, but I think you miss one important point. Karen’s Replicator is basically a copy facility, with some bells and whistles added (very nice ones, IMHO). Acronis (or any other ‘disc imager’) stores the backup in a proprietary format, which is useless unless the same program is run again to restore the file(s).
So, if something terrible happens to your PC, you can take the Replicator’s output and access it from any other Windows machine straightaway. This is important for files which you may need in a hurry, before you have time to completely restore your hardware/software.
My advice would be (a) use Replicator regularly (daily or so) for "work in progress" (b) run Acronis say once week or two and before any major reconfiguration of your system.
Janusz has some great points and excellent advice. Don’t use only Replicator or only Acronis True Image Home to do your backups. Both are excellent programs and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Acronis stores its backups in its own proprietary .tib format, by default. Recent versions (2009, 2010 and 2011) also give you the option to store in standard .zip files. That can solve the "proprietary" issue about which Janusz was concerned. Of course, most of us won’t change the storage format, either.
By keeping your data backed up to another drive or another computer using Replicator, you can have a data file backup available whenever you need it. It will be accessible with normal Windows functions.
By backing up your computer, or at least your Windows partition, using Acronis True Image Home, you’ve created your own Recovery DVDs or recovery image files (you can tell ATIH to break the image files into DVD-sized files as it makes the backup, so you can put them on DVD).
That way, you can use the bootable Acronis True Image Home cdrom to boot your computer and restore from your backup file, whether it’s on DVD’s, an external hard drive, or even across your home computer.
By the way, if you buy Acronis True Image Home 2011 (or any other version), be sure to register it. Acronis is about the only company I know of who makes this a desirable thing to do. Acronis provides updates to its program versions, and additional downloads, via their My Acronis page.