Acronis Backup & Recovery Review (get 5% off)

April 2014 update: Acronis Backup & Recovery has been renamed “Acronis Backup.”  However, the software is the same.

Acronis Backup & Recovery is powerful backup software for small businesses.  It can perform bare metal restores from disk images, backup entire disk images to the cloud, and lots of other features that make it perfect for workstations and servers.  The price starts at $89 for the Workstation edition.  In this review, I’ll take a look at how it performs.

Backup & Recovery main screen

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Pros

  • Full disk imaging with bare-metal recovery
  • Can store full disk images in the cloud
  • Supports servers including SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, and more
  • Lots of backup schemes and versioning controls
  • Includes most features from True Image and more

Cons

  • Active Restore doesn’t work on Windows 8 or later

The Bottom Line

Acronis Backup & Recovery is great backup software for small businesses, with disk imaging features and cloud backup capabilities.

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First Step – Create Bootable Media

When first started, Acronis Backup & Recovery prompts you to create bootable media in order to restore disk images.  The included Acronis Media Builder guides you through this process.

By default, the bootable media uses a Linux-based environment with Windows-like drive representation (ex: C:, D:, \\server\share).  You can also choose to use a Windows PE environment and Linux-like drives, if desired.

Acronis Bootable Media Builder

You can connect to the bootable media remotely from a central management console.

Other options include creating x64 media, including Linux kernel parameters, and customizing which Acronis components to place on the media (in this case, Backup & Recovery).  But if you have other Acronis components, you could place them on there, too.

Backup Fast and Easy

For quick backups, the Back up now button lets you specify a backup location and start backing up immediately.

For scheduled backups, click the Create backup plan button which will launch a screen to choose what, where, and how often to backup.

Backup & Recovery: Create a backup plan

Creating a backup plan in Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5

What to back up

These are the disks/volumes you want to back up.

Where to back up

You can backup to:

  • Online backup storage (with a subscription to Acronis Backup & Recovery Online)
  • Local folders, such as a USB hard drive
  • Network folders
  • FTP servers
  • SFTP servers

How to back up

Scheduling, backup schemes, and retention rules are defined here.  Acronis Backup & Recovery features several different backup schemes including Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS), Tower of Hanoi, and custom schemes.

Backup & Recovery: Backup schemes

Choosing a backup scheme.

Backups can be kept indefinitely, or old backups can be deleted or moved.

Advanced Backup Options

When creating a backup plan, you can choose from many different options.  You can customize everything from:

  • Backup performance
  • Compression/encryption
  • Backup splitting
  • Email notifications
  • Cataloging (which makes managing multiple versions of backups a cinch)
  • and more…
Backup & Recovery: Backup options

The options screen in Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5

The ‘Vaults’ View

A vault is simply a storage area for backup archives.  A vault is associated with metadata from the backups, which makes for easy navigation and organization.

Backup & Recovery: Vault screen

The Backup & Recovery: Vault screen lets you view and browse your backups.

Acronis Backup & Recovery Online

Although local backups protect against deleted files and server crashes, they can’t protect against fire, flood, and theft.

Acronis Backup & Recovery is able to backup to, and recovery from, entire disk images stored in the cloud.

Backup & Recovery Online backups can be accessed from the Vaults view, just like local backups.  You can view the contents of archives, recover, validate, export, convert, and mount disk images stored online.

Restore Fast and Easy

Disk imaging is Acronis’ speciality, and the recovery process is easier than ever.

Recovery media: Boot screen

The recovery media boot screen.

I booted into the recovery DVD I created after first installing the software.  The recovery environment differs slightly from the one in True Image; it’s more powerful in Backup & Recovery.

Acronis uses a Universal Restore utility to restore to dissimilar hardware (by installing drivers and modules that better fit the target system).

It also adds “Acronis Active Restore” – a tool that brings a system online immediately after a recovery operation has started.  Unfortunately, it’s not supported on Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, or later systems.

Recovery media: What to recover?

Select an archive to recover, and choose a volume.

After selecting a backup archive, Acronis Backup & Recovery automatically selects what it thinks is the best destination.  Although you’re free to change this, and many other settings.

Recovery media: Recover data

The “Recover Data” screen.

My backup was restored without any issues, and I was able to boot into my newly recovered hard drive right away.

Features

Central Management

Available in the Advanced edition only.  This is what separates the True Image line of software from Acronis’ Backup & Recovery line of software.  It’s perfect for small businesses managing multiple workstations and/or servers.

Bare Metal Restore

Restore to any machine, even dissimilar hardware, with Acronis Universal Restore.

Backup Anything – Servers or Workstations

Acronis Backup & Recovery can backup a number of platforms, including:

  • Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft Active Directory Server
  • Microsoft Small Business Server
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • VMWare and Hyper-V virtual machines
  • Linux
  • Windows laptops and desktops

And with VSS, you can do live backups without any consistency problems.

Deduplication

Reduce storage requirements by storing just one instance of duplicated data.

Mount Images as Drives

You can mount your disk images as drives, and copy files to your local hard drive.  Files in an image can also be modified in the read-write mode.

Summary

Acronis remains the undisputed leader of disk imaging software.

The prices for Acronis Backup & Recovery vary from $89 for the Workstation edition, all the way up to $1,559 for the SharePoint Server edition.

Although the server editions are expensive, this software is clearly not for the casual home user.  It’s intended for small businesses with demanding requirements: full disk imaging for servers, deduplication, cloud support, and more.

Specifications
Product Name Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5
Version 11.5
License Shareware
Price $89
Operating Systems WindowLinux
Backup Types
Files and Folders yes
Full Disk Image yes
Incremental yes
Differential yes
Backup Destinations
Hard Drive yes
Removable Media yes
Network Shares yes
Blu-ray yes
CD/DVD yes
FTP yes
SFTP yes
Online Storage yes
Features
Compression yes
Encryption yes
Email Notifications yes
Error Handling yes
File Versioning yes
Priority Setting yes
Scheduling yes
Speed Limiting yes
Synchronization no
Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of BackupReview.com. He is a cloud fanatic and regularly reviews online backup services. He believes backups should be easy, affordable, and automatic.
Geoff Akerlund

@backupsoftware

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  • Dr. K. A. Rasheed

    Do you have a coparison with Nero backit up?

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    • http://www.backupreview.com/ Geoff Akerlund

      No, but thanks for the suggestion. I will add it here by the end of next week.

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