Acronis True Image Unlimited Review
Acronis True Image Unlimited for PC and Mac is available as a free trial. The trial version does have a few limits but is mostly functional for thirty days which should be plenty of time to let you check out its many features and see if it is right for you. Acronis has some of the most reliable backup solutions available for just about any setup from home use to business setups. Acronis True Image Unlimited is available for home use and is essentially the same as Acronis True Image 2015 but with one important addition.
The exe which you can download for the PC is a web stub installer about 1.70 MB in size. The internet will be required to download the actual full sized installer after running it. True Image supports most Windows Operating Systems from Windows XP through 8.1 except for XP x64.
The Mac dmg file weighs in at just under 40 MB and supports OS X 10.8 – 10.10.
They both have listed requirements of at least 1.5 GB of free drive space although I found the actually used space (not including backups) to be much less.
The cost of a single license is $99.99 or $169.99 for three system licenses.
Both the PC and Mac versions install quickly once the entire installation file has been downloaded. The PC version is a bit bulkier than it’s Mac counterpart with sizes of about 282 MB (PC) and 39 MB (Mac). The Mac version does not have a stub downloader and comes as a standard .dmg file.
Upon starting up either version of True Image Unlimited the screen allows you to enter your serial number if you have already purchased it. Otherwise you can simply select “Start Trial” near the bottom.
Once again both versions share a similar layout. The PC version uses large circles starting with the ‘Entire PC’ selected while the Mac version uses large rectangles and has ‘My Mac’ selected.
The PC versions has a few different sections including Sync, Tools, Account and Help along with easily tweak-able backup parameters.
The Mac version has no other true sections but a few features can be reached via the menu bar.
The PC version allows you to change the backup mode between ‘Disk and partitions’ or ‘Files and folders.’ Clicking either of these will take you to a different selection screen.
The Mac version does not appear to allow selecting specific files or folders and its users can only choose which drives or partitions to backup.
Once the backup sources have been selected you will need to choose a destination for these files. It’s never a good idea to store your backups on the same device(s) as those being imaged. Both versions of the program do a good job notifying the user if they choose a destination that is also a source but they will allow you to continue.
Once you have decided where you will be saving the backup you may start it by clicking the ‘Backup Up Now’ or the ‘Start Backup’ button depending on the version. Alternatively you can choose the Options/Settings found in the lower part of the screen to change the settings available for each.
The PC version will add a small ‘Encrypt backup’ option under the destination and allow the user to choose how often the backup should recur by clicking the small downward facing arrowhead next to ‘Backup now.’
The Mac version on the other hand does not present these options in an easy to use manner and instead requires you to access the ‘Settings’ directly. This will take you to a fairly small screen with only three tabs.
For the Mac version the settings shown above will be your only options.
With the PC version however you have a much broader range of ‘Options’ including Schedule, Backup scheme, Notifications, Exclusions and Advanced (options).
Both versions allow encryption with standard 256 bit AES. The PC version allows less powerful protection but I wouldn’t suggest using it unless speed is more important. Always remember your password, there is no way to recover it.
The PC versions has some features not available in the Mac version including event triggers such as a user logon/logoff or system shutdown. Choosing ‘Advanced Settings’ allows triggering a backup under a few more scenarios including when a drive with S.M.A.R.T. enabled reports an issue that then fires off an alarm in a separately downloadable module called ‘Acronis Drive Monitor’ as well as other idle and power related settings. ‘Backup schemes’ allows you to choose between different pre-made schemes including ‘Single version’, ‘version chaining’, ‘incremental’, ‘differential’ or even design your own based off of any the others with ‘custom’.
You can use the ‘Notifications’ tab to set up email reports for various situations or ‘Exclusions’ to exempt particular files from being saved into your backup archives.
The ‘Advanced’ tab opens a section that contains a number of small expandable areas including ‘Image creation mode’, ‘Backup protection’, ‘Pre/Post commands’, ‘Backup splitting’, ‘Validation’, ‘Backup reserve copy’, ‘Removable media settings’, ‘Backup comment’, ‘Error handling’, ‘Computer shutdown’ and ‘Performance’.
While it’s fairly obvious that the PC version comes with quite a few more options than its Mac counterpart they both get the job done. The one glaring oversight, in my opinion, is that with the Mac version there is no way to validate the backup archives. Unless you try to restore them, you can’t be one hundred percent sure that they will work! If you use the windows version, I’d suggest you do validate your archives. There’s not much worse than when you think you’ve backed your data up and then discover that the backup has errors. It will add an extra chunk of time to the process but it’s well worth it in my opinion.
Another feature that they both share is the ability to create ‘Rescue media.’ Regardless of the version, you’ll want to make use of this ability. Should the worst happen and the OS crash to an unrecoverable (unbootable) state or a drive goes bad and requires replacing you’ll want such a handy rescue disc or flash drive to boot from and make use of those full system images. That is, assuming you don’t save the backup to the same disk that the system resides on….
The ‘About’ screen for both PC and Mac show the standard version information along with an option to toggle if information such as hardware and configuration settings will automatically be sent back to Acronis as part of the Customer Experience Program.
The Windows version offers a number of features such as cloning a disk to a newer (larger) drive or restoring a full system backup to a different computer with different hardware with the extra downloadable ‘Acronis Universal Restore’. It also allows you to use other devices like a smartphone or tablet to access and manage your backups remotely using the ‘Parallels Access’ feature.
If you are using the PC version and do not have a secondary drive or do not want to use the cloud you could make use of the ‘Acronis Secure Zone’ which will create a unique partition on the selected drive where you can save backups.
A few of other extras included in the PC version that are not so directly related to backup or restoration are ‘Acronis System Report’ and ‘Drive Cleanser.’ The System Report is primarily for use with support tickets and grabs a list of hardware and system information you can email them to aid in diagnoses and re-creation of issues. ‘Drive cleanser’ is a partition or drive wiping utility and should be used with caution.
The Mac build also version comes with a few features that the Windows version doesn’t. Namely Bootcamp, FileVault and Fusion Drive support. You won’t find these on Windows PCs in general so it is no wonder that they are not included in that version. It seems that there is not a huge selection of software for Mac that can handle of these situations and the ability to properly backup drives using Bootcamp or FileVault is a huge plus.
The last thing I’ll mention here is another ability that both versions share. Saving your data to the ‘Acronis Cloud.’ This is where the ‘Unlimited’ part of the name comes into play. The trial version also supports this ability for thirty days after you sign up using your email address and receive the account details. You can then fill in your information within either program (or from a tablet/smartphone that you may be remotely accessing a PC from) and begin uploading your backups.
Obviously transfer rates will vary depending on a number of things such as your ISP speeds, time of day/amount of traffic, and the distance to the server you choose for storage of your backups. By choosing a server close to your location you can help maintain good speeds. In my tests, the ISP I use was my primary issue as they allocate about 10% or less of my bandwidth for uploads.
You may also change the cloud settings and clean your backups if you would like to do so.
As seen in the PC screen above, the Acronis Cloud also showed the backup for ‘My Mac’. After you have selected the backup that exists in the cloud you can also choose to recover it. This will take you to the web application which will be opened in your browser for both PC and Mac even though this particular screenshot was taken from Windows.
After choosing ‘Recover Now’ you will be presented with a list of your backups. Then you can download, copy a link, share a link or delete the archive. Cloud storage is fairly common these days but having it (mostly) integrated into the software does make it easy to use. While they could easily incorporate the cloud recovery process into the software, having multiple points of access on one device *could* complicate matters so I can’t say it bothers me.
Final thoughts and conclusion:
If you intend to make use of the Cloud options Acronis True Image Unlimited for PC and Mac is certainly the way to go. Backups can become huge over time so not being limited by a number is nice.
The Windows version is a spectacular product with a plethora of helpful options allowing quite a bit of tweaking and customization. The Mac version contains the basics along with some helpful features but overall it feels incomplete.
Click here for more detailed information on True Image 2015 for PC.
Click here for a more detailed review of True Image 2015 for Mac.
For more on the Acronis Cloud in general please click HERE. *Please note that this review is more about the business aspect but most details are still applicable to home users as well.*
Easy to use interfaces.
Solid backup and restoration abilities.
Unlimited cloud storage included.
Mac version does not allow validation and is missing many options.
Time estimates are sometimes off the mark.