For many years Acronis True Image was widely regarded as one of the best desktop backup applications available for both PC and MacOS devices alike. After the recent announcements from Acronis as to True Image being discontinued in September 2001, I will be looking at its direct replacement in this review, this replacement is Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office and I will be seeing how it fares as a backup solution in its own right.
One of the biggest issues which has prompted Acronis to make such changes is the ever growing cyber security threat faced by home and business users alike, threats which can see issues such as ransomware encrypting important files and making then unusable as well as viruses engulfing computers making them non bootable as a result.
The answer from Acronis is to such a threat is, of course, to keep files backed up first and foremost, but also to integrate sophisticated anti-virus and cyber security technology into the backup software itself. By integrating such security software into the backup application itself, users of Cyber Protect Home Office can help mitigate the chances of there files being compromised and, in-turn, lower the chance of backing up an infected or otherwise compromised file as a part of their backup routine.
In this review I will be looking at what Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office has to offer, how it differs form the final version of True Image (True Image 2021) and how suitable it is for protecting your PC and the valuable data stored within, let’s go!
- Well designed, easy-to-use interface
- Available for both Windows and MacOS
- Built-in cyber protection suite (anti-virus, web filtering, ransomware protection etc.)
- Dual protection configuration (backup locally, to NAS devices or the Acronis cloud)
- Support for file-level and full disk image backups
- Support for full system image backups
- Support for multiple backup sets and historic versioning
- Built-in zero knowledge encryption
- Built-in file sharing (with cloud enabled plans)
- Support for backing-up Microsoft Office 365 (Advanced & Premium only)
- Universal restore (restore to new / different hardware)
- Blockchain verification (Premium only)
- Bundled with multiple utility applications (including disk cloning software)
- Smartphone apps available (iOS and Android)
- Acronis only support their own cloud storage!
- Acronis Cloud not supported on the Essentials version!
- Pricing starts at $49.99 / year (for Essentials version)
- Multi-device licences available at reduced rates!
Cyber Protect Home Office Usability
In this section of this review I will be looking at the new Cyber Protect Home Office backup solution in more depth and assessing how it can help in both protecting you files whilst also keeping them backed-up. This starts off with the installation process and then moves onto the creation of a backup locally, then to the Acronis cloud and then finally looking at how easy it is to recover any backed-up files.
I will also look at some of the other useful functionality which comes along with Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, including the anti-virus and ransomware protection and the included disk utilities such as a rescue disk builder, system cleaner and disk cloning tool amongst other things.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office can be downloaded for free form the Acronis Website, a 30 day free trial is available which must be registered during the install process (so I will look at this later on). Once downloaded and set running the installer takes only a few moments and a few clicks to finalise the install, it is however, a very hefty download at 776MB (on day of test) meaning some pre-planning for the download might be required if you have a slow or unreliable internet connection.
After the instalation has completed we be shown a “quick start” guide (opens in web browser) which will be helpful for anyone new to the Acronis software ecosystem. We will also be asked to either register a licence key to activate the software fully or alternatively, register for an Acronis account in order to make use of the 30 day free trial.
With registration complete we can begin using the software, in the next section I will look at the different versions of Cyber Protect Home Office which are available before configuring a locally stored image backup and then moving on to have a look at the Acronis cloud storage which is exclusive to the Cyber Protect Home Office software.
Different Versions Available
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is a subscription based product with 3 major subscription plans available starting from just $49.99 / year. Each plan has provision for adding between 1 and 5 computers with some higher plans also coming bundled with an allocation of free Acronis Cloud storage.
As a subscription based offering, most versions of Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office are eligible for free updates to the latest versions as they are released (with the exception of the Essentials plan) as well as providing access to free technical help and support whenever needed.
The three versions of Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office currently available are:
The essentials version of Cyber Protect Home Office allows full use of the core backup functionality of the software itself plus certain elements of the Acronis cyber security protection (this being the ransomware protection component as opposed to the full security suite found on higher plans).
Being the cheapest version of the three available options, starting at just $49.99 / year, the Essentials plan is limited in that it includes no allocation of Acronis Cloud storage as a part of the subscription nor does it allow connecting to a third party cloud storage provider such as Backblaze B2 either (in other words, this version is for making locally stored and NAS based backups only).
The Cyber Protect Home Office Essentials subscription also allows access to the latest versions of the application as they are released (albeit at a special upgrade price as opposed to being free as they are on the two higher plans) as well as access to premium support via email, live chat and phone.
The Advanced version of Cyber Protect Home Office, which is the most popular according to Acronis, takes everything in the Essentials version much further for a slightly higher fee of $89.99 / year for a single PC.
To start with, on this subscription plan we have access to the Acronis Cloud (with 500GB of cloud storage included), inclusion of the full Acronis cyber security suite (including a full anti-virus suite) and also the ability to backup a Microsoft 365 account.
Furthermore, when subscribing to the Advanced plan, all future versions of the software are available free of charge under the subscription as is premium support via email, live chat or on the phone.
Starting at $124.99 / year for a single PC licence, the Premium version of Cyber Protect Home Office features everything included in the Advanced version plus a few additional features on top.
One of the most notable additions in the Premium version is the ability to both create electronic signatures for selected files as well as make use of blockchain certification technology, both of these features combined not only help in keeping files secure but in ensuring backups have worked as intended and the integrity of the files within said backups is maintained.
Finally, the Premium plan also brings with it an upgraded 5TB allocation of cloud storage within the Acronis Cloud alongside the email, phone and live chat support available in all versions.
Disk & Partition Image Backups
In this section I will be looking at the image backup functionality of Cyber Protect Home Office, this is the same image backup functionality for which Acronis has been well known for many years thanks to their recently retired and much revered True Image range of backup products.
* Note that image based backups are very useful as they can be used to backup a system in its entirety, this includes all user documents and settings, any installed applications and configurations as well as the operating system itself. Image backups (with the help of other included Acronis tools) can also allow the recovery of an entire PC to a new disk, device or from an older mechanical disk to a newer and faster SSD alternative!
Starting off at the main homepage we can see that Acronis have already started off a full PC image backup set for us (see screenshot above), we could simply continue configuring this set further however, since I only want to include a single disk in my image backup I will choose the “Disks and Partitions” option on the initial source configuration screen as can be seen below:
* Note that as well as the “Entire PC” imaging option we can also make image backups of individual disks and partitions should we need to (the second option down in the screenshot above). This could be useful if you have a Windows system with multiple disks / partitions and only require a core (system) disk to be imaged, as in my case.
Given this option will backup the entire disk used by my PC, there is no need to specify which files or folders are to be included in the backup (we can however, optionally exclude specified files and file types in the advanced settings page later on). The next step is then to select the location for this backup to be stored in (as can be seen below, I am using an additional locally attached hard drive in this example):
At this point we have an entire disk ready to be backed-up and a storage location to store the backed-up data on, this is now a good time to go over to the left side menu, right click on the (only) backup entry and give it a meaningful name, as can be seen below:
Next, clicking on the “Options” button at the bottom of the screen will allow us to tweak exactly how this new backup set works, this includes, amongst other things, the schedule it will be run on, any files or file types which should be excluded and the inclusion of strong AES 256-bit encryption to help keep the backed-up data safe.
As can be seen above, when entering this options screen for our new backup we will initially see the scheduling screen first, from here we can set up virtually any schedule for our backup set to run on including a “Non stop” option which will provide real-time backup protection.
Moving on to the next tab and we have the ability to specify the backup scheme which is to be used, this can get quite complicated given all of the choices available but the default version which comes up in the list of available choice is probably the best for most use cases (this is the “Incremental scheme” as can be seen below):
With the “Incremental scheme” chosen we can then specify further how our incremental backup will work, as can be seen below, this involves specifying how many full and incremental versions and version chains are to be kept as a part of the automatic clean-up settings section.
* Note that a “version chain” is made up of a full backup and a full set of incremental backups in-between.
This backup type screen is also very important as it is the choices we make here that help determine the number of historic file versions we keep as a part of our backup. For example, if we backup once per day and want to keep 1 year of historic file versions available, then we could store a single chain with 365 incremental backups in-between or 12 full chains each made up of 31 incremental backups each (before the chains start getting deleted and replaced).
If for any reason you don’t want to work out you own versioning like this then you could simply make use of one of the default backup schemes, in this case the “Version chain scheme”, as can be seen below, which will automatically manage 6 months of version history by itself:
The next two tabs are the “Notifications” tab (where email alerts can be set-up if you have access to your own SMTP information) and the “Exclusions” tab where specified files, folders and even file types (such as ISO image files) can be automatically excluded form the backup in order to help save disk space.
* Note that despite being a cloud based subscription service, Acronis still expect their customers to enter their own SMTP information for having email reports sent to them!
Finally, in the Advanced tab, we can finalise our backup by tuning some other key settings such as encryption, compression, backup splitting and automatic validation amongst a few other things.
As can be seen above, one of the most important methods for protecting our backup is to make use of a password and strong AES 256-bit encryption, this means if our backup does get into the wrong hands (for whatever reason) it is still safe in that such encryption is incredibly difficult and time consuming to break.
Another important section of this tab to be aware of is the Performance section (as can be seen below). From here we can set the compression level for the backup as well as specify the priority of the operation (and, in-turn, how much of the computers resources will be used whilst backing up).
* Note that higher levels of compression will help save disk space, but will also mean backups take longer to run and will consume more of the PCs resources in the process!
Next, another useful feature if you are planning to make use of optical media for your backup is the Splitting section, from here we can instruct Acronis to make multiple files per backup within a specified size range so that they can, for example, then be written to 4.7GB DVDs!
Finally, with all advanced options set, we are ready to save the changes and our new backup set will be fully configured and ready to go. If a schedule has been set then we could wait for the backup to be run automatically or, alternatively, use the green “Back up now” button in the bottom right of the screen to start the first backup straight away:
File Level Backups
In the last section I looked at using Cyber Protect Home Office to make an image backup which was stored locally on my PC, there might, however, be times when image backups aren’t suitable such as when only backing-up a small selection of files or when making use of cloud storage with only a slow or unreliable internet connection available.
In this section I will look at the file level backup functionality within Cyber Protect Home Office, how it can be made use of and also how the Acronis Cloud can be used as an off-site backup storage location.
Starting off back at the main homepage and we can click on the “Add backup” link at the bottom left of the screen to create a new backup set, as can be seen above, this will add a new backup entry to the left side menu which is ready to be given a name. Once given a sensible name, clicking on the “Change source” link will take us to the page where we can specify the type of backup we want to be made (as can be seen below):
Note (above) that this time around I have selected the “Files and folders” option which is what we need when making a file-level backup, once this is selected the next screen will ask us to then select which files and folders are to be backed up:
Next, as I am going to make use of the Acronis Cloud storage for this file-level backup set I will need to ensure it is selected as the source for the backup, this ca be done like in the below image:
With Acronis Cloud now set as the destination for this backup set, we can then move on to the advanced settings page. As with the image backup set made earlier on these settings can include the scheduling options, file exclusions and notifications amongst other things, it should however be noted that some settings are also slightly different when using cloud storage.
As can be seen above, one of the most important things to be aware of when using the Acronis Cloud storage is that we don’t set the backup plan type in the same way as we did when making an image backup. As can be seen in the screenshot above, the “Acronis Cloud cleanup” section allows us to simply set the number of previous versions of files to keep as well as the maximum time-frame before older versions are deleted and the Acronis software will take care of the rest.
* NB – In this newer Acronis Cloud set-up you can essentially keep as many old versions as you like for as long as you like – the only real limitation is the cloud storage available so keep a close check on how much you are using over time.
Strong password based encryption can also be specified for all files stored in the cloud alongside other features such as limiting the bandwidth being used, setting the VSS mode and even choosing which Acronis data centre will be used for the backup
* Note that Acronis have data centres available for Cyber Protect Home Office in the following locations:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Also note that once configured you will not be able to change the data centre location for your backup!
With all advanced settings configured, the cloud backup set will be ready to go and can be run manually straight away or via the scheduling engine if it is configured.
At this stage we have seen Cyber Protect Home Office used for both an image level backup to a local device and a file level backup to the Acronis Cloud, the next thing to look at in this review is how easy it is to restore files using this software.
As can be seen above, to start restoring form any of our backup sets we must first click on the set itself and then on the “Recovery” tab at the top of the page (as can be seen above). The next step (if necessary) is to select the historic version using the drop-down versioning box and then finally, if applicable, the type of recovery to be made.
* NB – In the above screenshot I am restoring form my image backup set, this means I have the choice (via the sub menu above the version history box) to specify if I want to restore from the entire disk image itself, restore a specified partition form the image or finally, to restore individual files and folders.
Next, given I will be restoring individual files and folders in this instance, another important feature comes to light, this is the ability to choose where to restore the files to. By default, this will be the original location from which the files were backed-up from and via the recovery options screen (accessed at the bottom right of the screen) we can also choose to optionally overwrite any existing files and folders when recovering to this same location.
Finally, with any advanced options set, clicking the “Recover Now” button at the bottom of the screen will initiate the recovery.
Acronis Web Access
With the backup and recovery components of Cyber Protect Home Office now covered, another very useful feature for those those on the Advanced or Premium subscriptions (which include Acronis Cloud storage) is use of the Acronis web management interface.
Whenever a device is connected to the Acronis account it will be visible within this web dashboard, this means not only can we see the backup and security status of any device but also remotely perform certain tasks including running a full backup, restoring files and even accessing any archives or synchronisations which have been set up for devices using the cloud storage.
Furthermore, when accessing files through this web-based interface, we also have the ability to create and manage any shared links as well as mange the Acronis account user profile itself.
Acronis Security Features
One of the biggest moves made by Acronis in recent years is towards the security of any backed-up data and the inclusion of fully functional anti-malware and anti-ransomware software within the backup client itself. Naturally, this makes Cyber Protect Home Office more than just a backup tool and takes it to a place where it is both fully capable of replacing a traditional antivirus as well as scanning and ensuring any backed-up files are free from any cyber threats and stored safely in the process.
As can be seen above, this new security functionality starts at the “Protection” screen which can be found in the left side menu, form here we can see an overview of what security is running, the status of things such as quarantined files and applications as well as the update status of things such as the anti-malware application.
The built-in antivirus software can also be controlled form this main security screen, this means as well as having the tool running in the background we can also manually run a quick or full security scan with just a single click when necessary.
Next, moving on to the advanced security settings (as can be seen above) and we can set a multitude of security related settings within Cyber Protect Home Office, some of these include:
- Turing on / off Real-time protection
- Turning on / off anti-ransomware protection
- Turning on / off web filtering protection
- Scheduling an anti-virus scan at specified intervals (e.g. every day at 1PM)
- Configuring a daily vulnerability assessment (i.e. a security report)
- Setting up exclusions for specified apps / files
- Turning on crypto-mining protection
- and more…
Overall, this is a very comprehensive and impressive security suite in its own right and something which is a welcome addition for anyone wanting to keep their data safe and secure. If you are currently relying only on Microsoft Defender then this functionality will be a great addition in boosting your anti-malware set-up, furthermore, if you are someone who is currently paying for premium anti-virus form another provider then this comprehensive suite could replace that suite and save you some money in the process!
Synchronisation and Archiving
Another two excellent features included within Cyber Protect Home Office are the device synchronisation and archiving features, both of which can make use of the Acronis Cloud functionality to help keep multiple devices in sync with each other as well as help save disk space through archiving infrequently accessed files.
Starting off with the archiving functionality and we have the ability to let Cyber Protect Home Office move files form our local PC to the Acronis Cloud in order to free up disk space on the device. As can be seen in the screenshot above, this is as simple as selecting the files and folders to archive ourselves or allowing the app to analyse the users home folder and make suggestions as to what should be archived.
Moving on and the synchronisation feature, which can also make use of the Acronis Cloud or another locally available network shared drive, can be configured to keep folders on the local PC and any other PCs configured with Cyber Protect Home Office in sync with each other automatically. Once configured, this synchronisation process happens automatically in the background whenever any specified files are changed and helps to form a great solution for anyone who regularly works across two or more devices.
True Image Smartphone Apps
Complimenting the main Cyber Protect Home Office application is a mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android devices.
This mobile app allows Cyber Protect Home Office users with a cloud subscription to backup their mobile devices to the Acronis cloud automatically, thus helping to keep their smartphone data safe.
Users on the Essentials plan (without any cloud storage included) can still make use of the app and back up their mobile smartphones to a PC with the Cyber Protect Home Office software installed over Wi-Fi.
Other Tools & Features
So far it is clear that Cyber Protect Home Office brings together a lot of backup, synchronisation, archiving and security related functionality for a single application, so much so in-fact that this tool could realistically replace several tools in the process of being installed on any compatible PC (for those currently using third-party anti-virus and file synchronisation software at present).
With this core functionality aside, it is great to see that Cyber Protect Home Office still featuring numerous disk and system management tools as a part of the application, these include:
- Clone Disk
- Rescue Media Builder
- Acronis Universal Restore
- Parallels Access
- Try & Decide
- System Clean-up
- Acronis Secure Zone
- Acronis DriveCleanser
Some of the most useful tools form this above list include the clone disk tool which can be used for migrating an entire Windows system to another disk (including to an SSD disk) as well as the Try & Decide feature which allows for easy roll-back of system settings when trying out new software, opening potentially suspicious emails or performing any other potentially dangerous operations.
The Rescue Media Builder allows a bootable CD/DVD or flash drive to be made with a version of Cyber Protect Home Office installed upon it, With this bootable device we are then able to run the Acronis software without Windows being started first. Complimenting this tool is the Acronis Universal Restore tool which allows the recovery of an image backup to a new PC, even if it is running different hardware to the original PC the image was taken on.
Finally, as can be seen above, the System Cleaner is a Windows based cleaning tool which will help remove unnecessary junk from the main areas of a PC (e.g. temporary files, recycle bin, cleaning of hard disk free space etc.). Should your require more powerful cleaning (such as the ability to securely erase an entire disk or partition then the Acronis DriveCleaner tool will make easy work of such a task!
* As can be seen from the list above, there are quite a few additional tools included within Cyber Protect Home Office, I don’t want to go into each tool individually in deal but you can get a 30 day free trial of Cyber Protect Home Office for yourself if you want to see them all in action!
Cyber Protect Home Office Security
In the usability section of this review above I looked at some of the many security tools and functionalities included within Cyber Protect Home Office. When all of this security functionality is brought together, as it is in this application, we start to see a tool not only capable of backing up files but also one which ensures the files are safe and free of malware, protected form ransomware and that the PC being used is not in any way compromised or used for other elicit activities such as the mining of cryptocurrencies.
With his obvious security functionality aside, the application also allows any backed-up files to be encrypted with (up to) AES 256-bit encryption as well as providing other protection mechanisms for files including anti-ransomware technology (which stops files being encrypted by ransomware) and a component which stops files been deleted by unauthorised persons or applications with out the administrators permission.
In-fact, given how comprehensive this security functionality is means that Cyber Protect Home Office is more than capable of matching and replacing a traditional anti-virus suite and as such could potentially save subscribers of the service the annual fees usually associated with premium anti-virus in the process!
Overall a great security focused backup application, a long way ahead of many other backup applications in this regard!
Acronis have a very detailed knowledge base and support portal on their website in addition to active community forums for those seeking help and support.
Should you need further help you can submit a support ticket once logged into the Acronis website, make use of the live chat system on the website or even make a call to Acronis for phone-based support.
Cyber Protect Home Office Pricing
One of the biggest changes Acronis made made when moving away from True Image and over to Cyber Protect Home Office is the removal of perpetual licences, this means the only way to make use of Cyber Protect Home Office is now via a yearly subscription.
Available are three separate levels of subscription, all of which featuring different levels of functionality, cloud storage and cyber protection. The subscription plans are currently priced as follows:
- Essential (1 PC: $49.99 / 3 PCs: $79.99 / 5PCs: 99.99)
- Advanced (1 PC: $89.99 / 3 PCs: $129.99 / 5PCs: 189.99)
- Premium (1 PC: $124.99 / 3 PCs: $189.99 / 5PCs: 209.99)
A 30 day free trial of Cyber Protect Home Office is also available which also includes a 1TB trial of the Acronis Cloud during this time. Click here to visit the Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office webpage for more pricing information.
Cyber Protect Home Office FAQ
Yes, Cyber protect Home Office contains a full security suite helping to protect you files and the PC they reside upon, this include anti-virus and anti-ransomware amongst other security functionality including web filtering and vulnerability assessment.
Cyber Protect Home Office is a fully featured backup and security suite form software makers Acronis. It allows both file and image level backups to be taken and saved locally or to the Acronis Cloud as well as protecting any backed-up against threats such as ransomware files thanks to the built-in suite of cyber security tools.
Acronis True Image was available up until the beginning of September 2021, at which point it has been replaced by the new Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office line of backup and cyber security software.
Cyber Protect Home Office Review Summary
What really stands out about Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is just how comprehensive it is as a backup application, not only does it offer multiple ways of backing up your valuable data both locally and to the cloud, but also provides many state of the art security tools and features to help ensure it remains safe at every point in the backup cycle.
Backups themselves can be made at the file, disk or partition level as well as full system image backups which can then (if necessary) be restored to dissimilar hardware thanks to additional tools which are included such as Acronis Universal Restore. Additional backup functionality also sees Cyber Protect Home Office able to offer users (potentially) unlimited file version history as well as make use of strong AES 256-bit encryption, powerful scheduling functionality, strong compression and also help ensure PC performance remains stable thanks to the ability to limit the priority that backups will have on any system.
Pricing wise and Cyber Protect Home Office is generally very good value, especially given that the Advanced and Premium subscription plans both include a free allocation of storage on the Acronis Cloud (500GB+) and offer full use of the cyber security suite as a part of the plan. In addition to this, all plans allow the optional inclusion of multiple PCs (for a small surcharge) meaning a single licence can be shared between multiple devices making the software even more cost effective for people with multiple devices to protect.
Overall, a fantastic, feature-packed piece of backup software with very good backup, security and cloud credentials all at a very reasonable price to boot, a great effort from Acronis!