Acronis True Image 2021
*** Acronis have now replaced True Image with Cyber Protect Home Ofice – Click Here to read our review of this new version ***
Acronis have for a long time developed safe and reliable backup software, with this new release of True Image 2021 not much changes in this regard. What does change with the new 2021 version are some new cloud subscription options and the integration of multiple, real-time, cyber protection features including anti-virus, web filtering and video-conference protection among others!
In all fairness I think there is very little else Acronis can add to their backup solution, it really is a solid piece of software and I think they realise that going forwards they are better placed to add value to their offering else ware. This value comes via integration of anti-virus software and other security components which in turn help the new version of True Image become something much more than just a simple backup solution and into a piece of software which will protect both the users PC and valuable data.
So, a slightly different route to many others mean this very security focused backup software will make for an interesting review, let’s go!
Key Features of True Image 2021
- (New) Refined simple, reliable and easy to use interface
- (New) Built-in PC security software (anti-virus, web filtering, ransomware protection etc.)
- Dual protection (backup up locally and to the cloud)
- Supports file-level and full image backups
- Supports multiple backup sets
- Potentially unlimited historic versioning (local backups only)
- Built in zero knowledge encryption support
- Software available for both Windows and MacOS
- Both file level and image backups available
- Microsoft Office 365 backups supported (Advanced only)
- Universal restore (restore to new / different hardware)
- Blockchain verification (Premium subscription only)
- Bundled with multiple utility applications (including disk cloning software)
- Smartphone apps available (iOS and Android)
- Acronis only support their own cloud storage!
True Image 2021 Usability
What’s new in Acronis True Image 2021
As I eluded to earlier on, one of the biggest additions to True Image this year is the inclusion of built-in PC security software and advanced threat protection. This security extends to include anti-virus, web filtering, ransomware protection and video conference protection amongst other things.
With these new security features aside, little else has changed relating to the backups themselves, a few small enhancements have been made to the software but this is the sort of thing you would expect when moving to the latest version of any product. These small enhancements include quicker backup set validation (which is always welcome), the ability to resume backup replication operations and faster web-based restore functionality amongst a few other small improvements.
Different Version of Acronis True Image 2021 Available
In recent years Acronis have moved to a hybrid cloud / perpetual licencing model when it comes to True Image, this means you can still purchase a specific version of true image for a one-off payment if you want to or, alternately, take out a cloud based subscription.
The big benefit of the cloud subscription service is that you will always be eligible for a free upgrade to the latest version of True Image whilst your subscription remains active, this is further enhanced by Acronis providing the full set of security tools to their subscription based customers (only a limited set are available for perpetual licence customers).
Another big benefit of the subscription service is that most of the plans include a free allocation of storage on the Acronis cloud, this enables users to backup both locally and to the cloud and in-turn perform web-based restores form anywhere with an internet connection. Unfortunately, the Acronis cloud is the only available cloud storage for True Image customers at present with popular alternatives like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive not supported at all!
If you don’t require the advanced security features nor the Acronis cloud storage then the perpetual licence still provides good value for performing local PC backups with the full power of True Image!
Downloading and Installing True Image 2021
Despite the relatively large download size for the installer (793MB at time of review) Acronis True Image installation was actually a fairly straightforward process taking only a few minutes. The software will initially ask you to login with your Acronis account straight after install to verify the licence or create a new account if you just want to take advantage of the 30 day free trial.
Once installed and logged-in (or set-up with the trial) the software will be ready to use, a quick start guide pops up in the software on first opening (as it also does in a browser window) which will be helpful for those completely new to the software. Those coming from an older version of True Image, however, will instantly feel at home with the familiar Acronis layout which hasn’t really changed much in the last few versions. The new “Protection” entry on the left menu being one of the most noticeable differenced from older versions, from here we can configure and monitor the new built-in security features (or simply turn them all off should you wish to stick to your current anti-virus).
At this point the software is ready to use and we are now able to start backing up or, should we wish, configure the new security options that come with this 2021 version.
Backing up with Acronis True Image 2021
True Image 2021 allows backing up both locally to external hard drives and network drives as well as to the Acronis cloud storage service for those electing to buy True Image via a subscription. It must be pointed out that the Acronis cloud is the only cloud storage which is supported within True Image and only included on certain subscription levels (with only the advanced security features available across all subscription tiers).
To start creating our first backup we can click on the default backup set which True Image creates for us automatically (we can rename if needed) and then move over to the main part for the screen for the start of the configuration.
In the main part of the screen we will now see we are are asked for a source and destination for our new backup, the source will automatically be set for the entire PC (i.e. an image backup) and this can be changed to a file-level backup if needed by clicking on the source box to change it.
As can be seen above we have the option of an image backup being used by default, this will mean that the entire PC including its operating system, applications, data and any attached hard drives will be backed up. Specified files, folders and types of file can be excluded from an image backup should you need them to be, alternately a file-level backup can be selected ensuring only specified files get backed up, this is what I am going to choose for this example.
Now I have selected the file-level option I can select the specific files and folders to include in this backup set, this can extend to including files on network locations and external hard drives if needs be.
Once the files which are to be backed up are selected we will be taken to a screen where the destination storage can be set. This can be an external hard drive or network drive but remember, only customers opting for the higher level subscription plans will get access to any kind of cloud storage (and this is Acronis’ own cloud storage as was mentioned earlier).
With the files to backup selected and the destination set we are ready to set the backup options, this includes setting a schedule, choosing a backup scheme, notifications and configuring security options among other things.
The first and probably most important option to look at is the scheduling screen, here Acronis have worked their excellent scheduling engine into this latest release allowing for virtually any schedule to implemented including a non stop “real-time” option.
Moving onto the Backup Scheme options tab we can see Acronis give us very fine control over how the actual backup is made, this means we can control certain options such as always keeping the initial full backup forever and also how many incremental backups must be made before another full backup is run.
For many PC users this will be too in-depth when it comes to getting a simple backup running, as such the default settings can confidently be used for those not wishing to delve into this page any further. This level of detail does, however, provide a great deal of control over how a backup works for those that need it and can in-turn help optimise a backup to be, for example, more disk space efficient or complete quicker on certain days etc.
Moving on, email notification can be received from True Image 2021 but this does require the inputting of your own SMTP details, slightly disappointing when subscribing to a service, but not too big of a deal.
Finally, whilst moving to the final advanced options tab we can set, among other things the security for the backup, this section (shown below) allows us to (optionally) set our own, up to AES-256bit encryption password for the backup set.
With everything configured we are now ready to save and set the backup on its first run, the main screen in True Image will show us the progress of the backup once we have saved our settings and exited.
Restoring with Acronis True Image 2021
Now we have a working backup running we can look at restoring some files from the backup set, this starts by navigating to the “Recovery” tab above in the application main screen (you will need to enter a password here if you set one whilst creating the backup set).
Once in the main recovery screen (pictured below) we can first select the date from which we want to recover from and then in the main pane select the files and folder to be recovered. It is worth noting that potentially unlimited historic versions can be kept when using local storage (e.g. when using your own network storage or external hard drive) but this is limited to only 6 months when using the Acronis cloud.
True Image Smartphone Backups
Acronis True Image mobile is available on iOS and Android Devices, if you have cloud storage in your subscription you can backup all smartphone data to the Acronis cloud. If you don’t have a subscription which includes cloud storage then smartphone data can be backed up to a local PC on the same network providing it has Acronis installed.
Synchronisation and Archiving within Acronis True Image 2021
Now we have our initial backup set configured and know that the restores are working (always check this) we can look at two of the other great features included within True Image, these are the synchronisation and archiving components (both of which require a cloud subscription version of True Image to work across PCs on different networks).
Starting with the ‘Sync’ tool we can configure a ‘sync folder’ between two or more machines which have True Image installed and this will be kept in sync by Acronis. This will be done either using their own cloud service (when available) or locally for PCs which are on the same network (and for users who don’t have the Acronis subscription available).
Getting a synchronisation folder set-up is relatively straight forwards, clicking to create a new sync folder will begin the process, first we must choose to use the Acronis cloud or synchronise locally when asked at the first screen:
After this choice is made we can choose the folder itself to be synchronised, this is as simple as choosing from the built-in file picking tool:
And with this folder set the work is complete, other PCs on the same network can now be configured to use this same synchronisation folder.
The Archiving feature is a very useful addition to True Image and will automatically scan for and monitor any files which are infrequently used, these files in-turn can be moved off of the local PCs storage and to the Acronis cloud or stored on locally available storage such as an external hard drive. Any Archived files are still easily available and can be accessed on-demand as and when they are next required from the archive location (via Acronis or Windows Explorer) and potentially moved back to the main PC storage if required.
As can be seen above, when initially starting the Archiving tool it will scan the entire PC and make suggestions for files to be archived automatically for us, these are basically files which are accessed infrequently and Acronis thinks are good candidates for being archived.
Other Features of Acronis True Image 2021
With the backup functionality aside, Acronis also provide True Image users with a whole host of other useful utilities which come pre-installed with True Image. Looking at the “Tools” tab in the main application window allows all of these utility tools to be easily accessed when needed.
One of the first (and potentially most important) tools we find here is the Rescue Media Builder, this can be used to make recovery media on DVD / USB flash dive from which the PC can boot into should it have problems booting normally. Once booted into the special recovery environment any image backups of the PC can be restored from if necessary, this will have the effect of potentially taking the PC back to an older state when it was still working ok.
Next we find Acronis has also included a disk cloning tool alongside a Universal Restore Tool, both of these tools are useful when either upgrading the disk in your PC (and migrating the whole system over to the new disk) as well as when recovering an image backup of an old PC to some new hardware.
I have used these tools myself for many years and it is great to see them included as a part of the True Image package, something which some other backup software developers split into separate applications and charge extra for!
There are quite a few other tools here, including a system cleaning tool and a professional drive wiping tool amongst others. I don’t want to go into each tool individually but you can get a 30 day free trial of Acronis True Image 2021 for yourself if you want to see them all in action!
True Image Security
With the backup functionality, synchronisation, archiving and utility tools aside, one of the other big selling points of True Image 2021 is the new security suite built into the application itself. This provides not only traditional anti-virus protection but also more advanced protection specifically protecting files against ransomware and the PC itself against malicious website browsing, crypto mining attacks and against more modern attacks such as those on on video conferencing.
All of this new security functionality can be configured from the “Protection” tab found on the left side of the main application, the initial screen gives an overview as to the status of the PC whilst the configuration screen allows more in-depth configuration.
Whilst looking at the security features configuration screen (as shown above) it is helpful that Acronis have allowed each feature to be turned on/ off individually, this means if you don’t want to use any specific components they can be turned on / off as you require.
With these tools aside the other main security feature of True Image 2021 is the built in, zero knowledge encryption of backups, this allows users to encrypt any backup set with up to AES-256bit security using their own passwords which only they know.
Acronis have a very detailed knowledge base and support portal on their website in addition to active community forums. Should you need further help you can submit a support ticket once logged into the Acronis website via either live chat or the support ticket system.
True Image 2021 Pricing
One of the big changes recently is that Acronis are starting to offer subscription plans as well as perpetual licences. If you are the kind of person who always likes to have the latest version of software then the subscription service might actually offer very good value (you automatically get access to the latest version with an active subscription).
The subscription plans are currently priced as below:
Essential (1 PC: $49.99 / 3 PCs: $79.99 / 5PCs: 99.99):
The essential subscription provides full access to the local version of True Image, it needs to be noted this level does not include any cloud storage or anti-virus without additional costs.
Advanced (1 PC: $89.99 / 3 PCs: $129.99 / 5PCs: 189.99):
The Advanced subscription contains full access to the locally installed application in addition to the full suite of security tools and 500GB of included Acronis Cloud storage.
Premium (1 PC: $124.99 / 3 PCs: $189.99 / 5PCs: 209.99):
The premium subscription features everything in the Advanced plan but with some upgraded features (including blockchain verification) and an increased allocation of 1TB of cloud storage.
In addition to these subscription plans you can still buy a perpetual licence for a single, one-off payment, this is priced at:
1 PC: $59.99
3 PCs: $89.99
NB – The perpetual licence does not include free upgrades to the latest version nor access to the Acronis Cloud or advanced security features.
True Image has for a long time being a market leading backup solution and it is great to see Acronis continue to develop it further with new features such as the anti-virus and PC security tools which make a prominent appearance in True Image 2021.
Whilst there is no doubt as to how good this software is (it really is the benchmark for PC backup software) I cant help but feel the new pricing and licencing model from Acronis is becoming increasingly muddled up. For example, not all cloud subscriptions include cloud storage nor the full security features and in contrast the perpetual licence provides no cloud storage support whatsoever, whereas some subscriptions do offer cloud cloud but only from Acronis Cloud themselves!
I would like to see Acronis address this and make the licencing a little bit easier to understand, I think cloud storage should also be available to perpetual licence holders, even if it does attract a monthly / annual fee for the use of which!
I also think it is time Acronis start opening up the software to established storage partners such as AWS, Dropbox, Google Drive etc. as many people already have such subscriptions and I don’t think it is fair to make users move to a subscription model to have access to any cloud storage.
But all of this is just my personal opinion, with the pricing and cloud issues aside I can’t recommend True Image enough as a backup tool!