Backup software comes in many different varieties -- file-based, disk imaging, synchronization tools, continuous data protection, and more -- which can make it tricky to identify precisely which package you need.
But if that sounds too much like hard work, then you could simply buy a copy of Acronis True Image 2013, which can handle just about anything you might want to do.
The program is able to back up selected files and folders directly from the Explorer right-click option, for instance. And there are options to create images of your drives or partitions; synchronize folders on your PC, network, external drive, phone or tablet; or monitor your system, backing up new or changed files every few minutes for the maximum possible security.
Your data can then be burned to disc, saved to local or network drives, uploaded to your own FTP server, or (for an extra $49.99 annual subscription) transferred to 250GB of online server space at Acronis True Image Online.
A host of configuration options then allow you to decide your preferred backup method (full, incremental, differential), version control options, compression level, encryption, scheduling and more.
There are plenty of thoughtful touches here. You can limit True Image 2013′s network connection speed, for instance, so it won’t hog all your bandwidth. While backup validation isn’t simply the usual binary on/ off option; you can also choose to validate your backups at a specified frequency -- once a month, say -- giving you some reassurance that everything’s fine, without too much of a speed hit.
Recovery options are just as versatile, with you able to restore backups partially or full, from the True Image 2013 interface, via a boot disc, or even the Startup Recovery Manager (just press F11 as your PC boots to launch a recovery environment where you can access and restore your archives).
All this power doesn’t make the program hard to use, though, as a straightforward interface keeps most options hidden unless you really need them. Getting started, for instance, is as easy as clicking “Back up system”. True Image 2013 will automatically choose your source drives; if you’re happy with the default settings, all you have to do is select a destination drive and click “Back up now”.
There’s no shortage of powerful features here, then, but what you won’t get in True Image 2013 is a great deal that’s new, not at least in terms of the program’s core functionality.
Acronis have made some reasonable low-level tweaks, for instance -- simplified installation, easier archive management, improved stability -- but nothing too exciting.
True Image 2013′s support for Windows 8 is welcome, too, although hardly a great surprise.
And so the headline addition is probably True Image’s new ability to synchronise your data with mobile devices (both iOS and Android). It’s easy to use, and will be welcome if you need it, but of course you’ll need to purchase a subscription to True Image Online ($4.99 monthly, $49.99 a year) to see the benefit of this. While there’s a free trial, Acronis don’t provide a free account: not even a miserly 2GB.
If you already have True Image 2012, this new release doesn’t look like a compelling upgrade. Unless you’re planning an imminent move to Windows 8 -- or, maybe, you really need mobile sync -- we’d give this one a miss for now.
If you’re new to the package, though, it’s a very different story. Acronis True Image 2013 is a comprehensive and versatile program, highly configurable, with plenty of useful bonus tools, and it’s an excellent choice for anyone who needs real backup power.
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