What is True Image?
True Image started life as a back-up application. The name refers to the way it creates a copy or an image of your computer data on an external hard drive or cloud server.
Two years ago Acronis added security features adding ransomware protection to back-up. The most expensive version of the software included blockchain certification. I’m not convinced that is necessary. Yet there are those who find it useful.
The 2021 version of the software adds more protection. Acronis says it deals with malware, malicious websites and code injection. There’s a new antivirus scan.
All this means the security software has to work in real-time.
There’s the timely addition of protection from videoconferencing interference. This is a threat that emerged during the Covid-19 lockdown. The feature is not included in the MacOS version.
In effect, Acronis repackaged its enterprise security technology for individuals and small businesses.
One user interface
Having back-up and security controlled by a single user interface simplifies the two processes. That’s important. Many small business buy back up and security then fail to make the most of them because it’s difficult.
True Image 2021 has a clean, straightforward interface. This hasn’t changed since the True Image 2019 review written more than two years ago.
It’s not immediately obvious how everything works, but it is easy to learn. The trick is to mouse your way around the user interface and try all the options.
Once you’re done, you can leave True Image to work without day-to-day intervention, although it is likely you will need to revisit the app.
Testing True Image
I tested it on an iMac. Here it adds an icon to the menu bar. Unlike other MacOS apps, this is not a menu, instead it shows notifications. There is an option to open the app’s main screen from here.
Back-up remains the focus. You can create images of entire drives, partitions, folders or even individual files. True Image can back-up your network drives and add back-ups for your mobile phone or tablet.
There are options to do a full back-up, this can take a long time, or to do a differential back-up. This means backing up everything that changed since the last back-up.
You control the back-up frequency. Options range from monthly, which I’d regard as “why bother”? all the way to hourly.
The default is daily. There’s a twice daily option which I’ve set to back-up about half way through my working day and then late at night. That way I’m never going to lose more than a few hours work.
More frequent back-ups are possible, but this can tie up resources.
There are options to remove older back-ups when you are running out of space on your target disc. You can do this manually or leave it to the software. You can also set up validations.
There’s a basic A$70 subscription that doesn’t include cloud back-up. You’ll need a local or network drive. Acronis does not appear to allow you to use alternative cloud storage.
The A$98 Advanced plan includes 500GB of cloud back-up storage. There is a A$140 plan with a terabyte of storage. These prices are for one computer.
Acronis’ per computer price drops if you add more, but you don’t get more cloud storage.
This complex price structure is strange given that everything else about True Image 2021 works to hide complexity. I’m concerned that buyers can end up buying more than they need, or not enough.
There are updates to the way True Image handles back-ups. It no longer duplicates data if a back-up is interrupted, say if you lose your connection. Instead of restarting and doing the whole back-up again, it picks up from where it left off.
While testing I ran into a couple of interesting observations. First, there may be times when you want to turn off protection. I did this when bittorrenting a copy of LibreOffice 7 for review.
True Image’s security stopped my bit torrent client from working. Fair enough. To allow it through I paused the software, then forgot to restart. The next morning an email arrived telling me the scheduled back-up failed.
This is excellent. It’s easy to forget to switch back on and leave yourself without back-ups or protection. Getting a non-intrusive reminder is the best way of fixing this.
Likewise, after first installing the application, I chose to make a replica of my Mac hard drive using the Acronis Cloud. All good. Then I swapped out my home Wi-Fi router for a D-Link Wi-fi 6 router.
The router remained installed. When I went to update the drive replica, True Image responded with a message saying replication would restart after I connected to an approved Wi-fi network.
This protection would stop True Image from automatic drive replication when, say, a laptop connects to public Wi-fi. It takes a couple of clicks to resume replication with a new router.
True Image’s replication will wait until the everyday back-up is complete. It handles tasks one-by-one, not in parallel. This is useful on slower connection.
Fast, if your network is fast
Cloud back-ups are fast. I have a gigabit fibre connection, my Wi-fi 6 router is the bottleneck. It can clock speeds of over 500mbps. On my set-up, when True Image connects to the Acronis Cloud the reported speed fluctuates from around 100 mbps up to over 200 mbps.
Back-up times vary. The time indicator on the user interface gives a rough guide, but don’t take it seriously. It warned me a full drive back-up of 340 GB would take 52 minutes. I left it running and checked 30 minutes after starting to find it had finished.
Incremental back-ups of around 200 MB take a couple of minutes. Again, the times reported on the user interface can be misleading. The ‘less than one minute’ turned out to be a few seconds over two minutes.
Early back-up software, including earlier versions of True Image, could hurt system and network performance. I found this year’s edition of Norton LifeLock ties up all system resources when in full flight and then some. That is another story for another time.
True Image 2021 has no noticeable impact on performance. Automated back-ups can happen while I’m on a Zoom call and I’d never know. I haven’t seen a spinning Mac beachball while using True Image. This is in part down to plenty of headroom on a fibre connection and Wi-fi 6 local network, but, as mentioned, Norton struggles with the same resources.
Acronis True Image 2021 verdict
I can’t think of any other application that combines back-up and security in the way True Image does. The price is on a par with buying separate applications to do the two jobs.
You won’t need to pay for Acronis back-up and a separate security suite. You won’t need to learn two user interfaces. This is important if you don’t have full time IT professionals to call on for help.
Getting both back-up and security in a single integrated package from one source simplifies both.
Today, True Image is comprehensive to the point of providing more protection than everyday users or small businesses need.
It could be overkill for your needs.
If your data is precious or your work makes you a security target you should consider True Image.
If you handle other people’s data it could be essential. It makes sense if you work for a company or agency that requires high levels of security. Choose it if losing your data for more than a few minutes will cost you money.