If you’ve ever needed to clone or back up your hard drive, chances are you’ve heard of Acronis True Image. The disk imaging software has been used for over a decade to protect desktop PCs from computer crashes and other data loss mishaps. Personally, I’ve used it on a number of occasions to fix an un-bootable PC, and the peace of mind it’s given me over the years has been invaluable. In this updated review, I’ll take a look at the newest True Image 2015 version.
- Disk image backups enable complete recovery of a computer in the event of a disaster
- File/folder backups
- Easy to use interface
- Advanced options to customize backup jobs
- Synchronize files between computers
- Unlimited cloud backup option ($99/year)
- No free tech support after 30 days
- Aggressively integrates with OS; options that wake up sleeping computer, and prevent computer from sleeping while backups are running might be unwelcome for some (can be disabled)
The Bottom Line
True Image is the easiest software to back up and recover an entire system, with advanced features to handle any backup job. True Image 2015 brings a new and improved interface, as well as a better sync feature. However, users should be aware that Acronis no longer offers free tech support, except for recovery help.
New Interface First Impressions
The interface of True Image 2015 is much more app-like than previous versions. Buttons are sized for tapping with fingers, rather than clicking with a mouse. Although I was backing up a PC, I could have just as easily navigated the interface on a Surface or other Windows tablet.
I felt like the new interface was an improvement. Everything seemed more streamlined, and less complicated than the 2014 version. Even the colors were a small, albeit welcome change, as they matched the Metro interface of Windows 8.
However, it does take some getting used to. Settings don’t pop up in new windows. Everything is contained within a single window that flows from left to right, as you navigate the menus. I occasionally found myself searching for the “close” button to navigate away from a menu, when there wasn’t one.
Backup and Recovery Performance
True Image 2015 was able to back up my PC quickly and easily.
From the main menu, I created a new backup for my C: drive, with a USB hard drive as the destination.
I chose to encrypt my backup with a password. This probably isn’t needed if you’re only storing your backup locally (rather than in the cloud). However, I like the extra security.
Although my previous reviews of True Image haven’t included data transfer rates, this one will. It backed up 40 GB of data in about 20 minutes, which is the maximum speed of my hard drive according to CrystalDiskMark. Incremental backups, which only back up changes since the previous backup, were just as fast.
Overall, recovering data in True Image 2015 is as easy as a full-system backup utility can be. To recover my system from a backup, I inserted the Rescue Media I created after I first installed True Image. After booting into it, I was greeted with the True Image interface.
The rescue media allows recovery of files and folders, or whole disks and partitions. It also supports recovery from the Acronis Cloud.
True Image warned me the partition I was restoring to could contain useful data (it did not), and that everything would be overwritten. This is what I wanted, so I clicked OK. A summary of the recovery operation popped up, before I started it.
True Image recovered my 40 GB hard drive in about 15 minutes (to a drive which had existing system files on it). That’s extremely fast. It also had to process a couple incrementals, which no doubt increased the time.
True Image has many advanced settings under the hood – more than any other software in this price range. These range from the standard scheduling of backups (daily, weekly, nonstop, etc.) to less common settings such as email notifications, custom backup schemes, and the pruning of old backups.
More options include:
- Password protection and encryption (AES-128, AES-192, or AES-256)
- Pre/post commands
- Backup splitting
- Backup integrity validation
- CPU priority setting
- Network speed limits
The documentation for most options is easily accessible. For instance, if you’re not sure which backup method to choose, the link “Difference between backup methods” will take you to that section in the help file. Because of this, the software is easy to understand.
True Image’s OS Integration
True Image has a history of aggressively integrating with the operating system. For instance, older versions of True Image could replace the default Windows backup and recovery tool.
In True Image 2015, the default options to “Wake up the sleeping/hibernating computer” and “Prevent the computer from going to sleep/hibernate” may appeal to those who don’t want their backups interrupted. For me, the weirdness of having a computer turn on automatically outweighs my desire for timely backups. I also didn’t want True Image preventing my computer from sleeping, while the backup is running. Make sure to uncheck these options if you feel the same.
Rescue Media Creation
Rescue media is used when Windows cannot start, to recover data after a system crash. Rescue media creation has always been a strong point for Acronis. I was able to create media in only a few steps, onto a DVD. Other options include a CD or USB drive.
Other disk imaging programs can be needlessly complex, sometimes requiring users to download extra files in order to create the rescue media. Not so with True Image.
True Image 2015 lets you synchronize files between computers, to the Acronis cloud, or both. Overall, the sync feature works well and is easier to use than in True Image 2014, due to the new interface. A monthly fee is required for syncing to the cloud.
Any folder can be synchronized to any other folder. In other words, you will not run into any naming conflicts due to identical folder structures. This is also a departure from services like Dropbox, which are limited to synchronizing a single folder. I also liked that True Image let me completely bypass the cloud, if I wanted to. Not everyone wants to store their data in the cloud (or pay the fee required to do so), so this is a great option.
When I tried the Sync feature, True Image detected a previous sync on another computer, and asked if I wanted to join it. I was also able to create new syncs, from folders on my hard drive to the cloud.
True Image 2015 includes a variety hard disk management tools. These include:
- Clone Disk. Move an operating system to another disk.
- Rescue Media Builder. Creates rescue media, to recover disk image backups without the need to boot into Windows. This is an essential tool and should be used after first installing True Image.
- Acronis Universal Restore. Same as the Rescue Media Builder, but for recovery to dissimilar hardware.
- Parallels Access. A remote desktop tool to access a PC on a smartphone or tablet.
There are other tools, such as Acronis Secure Zone and a system cleaner, located in the More Tools menu. I rarely make use of the extra tools provided by True Image, but I can understand how they would be useful in certain situations.
Unlimited Cloud Backup
Acronis now sells unlimited cloud backup, as opposed to fixed-data plans (250 GB, 500 GB, etc.) of previous generations of True Image. The price is $99/year for one computer, or $170/year for three computers. Acronis has a fair-use policy of 3 TB, which is the maximum expected size of each computer’s backup.
All True Image backups can be encrypted with a password only you know, making this a completely private online backup solution. Read our review of the Acronis Cloud.
Unfortunately, Acronis only offers free support for the first 30 days. After that, you’ll have to pay $10 per incident to get an answer to a question. There are plenty of backup programs which provide perpetually free support, such as SyncBack, Retrospect, AOMEI Backupper, and every online backup service.
The lack of free support is a poor decision on Acronis’ part. On the plus side, recovery support is always free. You can also get support via the user forums, which are fairly active.
True Image Pricing
True Image is $49.99 for one computer, without the cloud backup option. Discounts are available for licensing multiple computers, and for bundling a cloud backup subscription. Overall, Acronis’ pricing is in line with their competitors. The software isn’t the cheapest, nor is it the most expensive.
|1 computer||3 computers||4 computers||5 computers|
|True Image 2015||$49.99||$79.99||–||$129.99|
|True Image 2015 upgrade||$29.99||$59.99||–||$99.99|
|True Image Unlimited (with cloud backup)||$74.99||$126.99||–||–|
|True Image Unlimited upgrade||$51.99||$96.99||–||–|
|Paragon Backup & Recovery||$39.95||$69.95||–||–|
The Verdict with True Image 2015
Overall, True Image 2015 is everything I could want in a backup program: easy to use, with the ability to recover an entire computer, and an unlimited cloud backup option. Despite my grievances with some of the default options, they are easily disabled. Users will want to keep in mind that software support is not free, although recovery support is always free.
|Product Name||True Image 2015|
|Files and Folders|
|Full Disk Image|