If you have any amount of data that needed safekeeping, this image above will definitely sooth your nerves. Looking through my own history of choosing backup solutions, going from my first Norton Ghost, Symantec Backup and then moving on to my first Acronis product for my Samsung Netbook – I must say that, backup solutions in general, have provided many improvements.
At home, I have multiple external hard disks, from Western Digital, Samsung to Seagate. I link them all, using an external USB 3 hub – which I have gone on record as saying, I need to budget for similar hubs every six to seven months. The amount of current drawn from the external hard disks, every time I move data to backup the backup, has caused the USB 3 hubs to continuously fail. I have invested in a Kickstarter project for an 8-port OctoFire USB 3 hub which can supposedly output 2.4A in each port. Even then, I have mentally prepared myself for the day this device malfunction.
No, I am not diving straight into describing Acronis. My problems with storage and hard drives are real. As a photographer and video editor, I keep all raw images and videos. I have innumerable B-rolls that I have had a hard time, looking for a proper storage for all of them. I ran through multiple 1TB external hard disks – Western Digital is probably an unlucky brand for me – as most of them are in various state of failure. The Samsung drive does not fare any better. The Seagate drive is chugging along pretty well, as long as I take my time, to log-in to my computer, or else it will report disk failures. Seasoned storage owners will know the signs very well – time for a new drive. The cost of acquiring another 1TB external hard disk, in Singapore dollars, is about $99. If I can wait four to six months, I could probably use multiples of that amount to acquire a a decent NAS. But having done my research on that, a NAS, by itself will never be the final expense. Hard disks are after all, utilizing spinning mechanism and are as much prone to failure, even if they are stationary in-situ, unlike external hard drives that usually gets disconnected and are designed to be portable. But, a proper NAS is definitely in the pipeline.
Why did I have a need for so much storage? Simply put, I use an Ultrabook at home. An Asus Zenbook UX21 which I acquired several years ago. It has a strong platform – with an Intel Core i7 processor, that is the up-side. The downside though, that it was based on the Ultrabook concept, and uses a solid state disk(SSD). While SSD is fast, the capacity is low. I was running on a 128GB capacity. After Windows 7, Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite, I really do not have as much room for applications which require bigger installation space.
Take a look at this game for example. Available on Origins, my system is capable of even installing this game. While I can still play it, probably in a much reduced graphic settings, the main bugbear has always been the lack of storage capacity to install games. It was a good thing that USB 3 was introduced around that period and is part of the standard ports for the Zenbook. In retrospect, I have never looked at USB storage as capable of anything other than streaming audio and standard definition videos. USB 3 has taken the next step, to a non-competitive gamer like me, to be used as a viable storage option for games that I will play. That of course led to the investments on a USB 3 hub and external HDD. And that of course, lead to the next photo.
So as you can see above. My data is stored on an external hard drive, in this case a WD My Passport. That is the last of my four WD portable drives, purchase within a year of each other, to still be functioning properly. Two years ago, when Microsoft Office 365 increased the OneDrive cloud storage space to 1TB, I decided that I needed to think through how I do my backups. I thought that this is definitely the best way to do it – given the tools I had at that time. My data is saved on Google Drive which gets backed up to the Google Drive cloud. Google Drive itself is placed within One Drive folder. So this is a case of backing up the backup. I really thought then, that I have the best, last mile solution for backup, available to ordinary guy on the street, who probably do not have deep pockets.
In comes Acronis TrueImage. Being brutally honest, I mentioned in the first paragraph, that I have used Norton Ghost, Symantec Backup, Windows Backup and Acronis TrueImage for Netbooks before. The premise for storage software is usually the same.
- Backup the entire computer
- Backup the folders
- Provide Recovery and Restore
Nothing much has changed, as far back as I can remember, for the last 2 to 3 years in terms of backup offerings. Yes, offerings may change – or perhaps the number of devices per license has changed – or perhaps a pairing to backup your mobile devices may be thrown in for good measure. Acronis TrueImage changed that, notably early 2012, when it rolled out Acronis Cloud. At that time, Acronis Cloud, comes with with 5 GB of free storage, or 50 GB for US$29.99 per year, or 250 GB for US$49.99 per year—lower prices than most rival storage services. And a Premium version (US$79.99) adds tools for migrating systems from one machine to another and working with Windows dynamic disks. In 2015, that changed to Unlimited cloud for a flat fee of US$99.00 per device.
But what is cloud storage anyways? Is it just another fad, or changing of definitions from remote network based file system to then redefining it as cloud? The Wikipedia described it as;
Cloud storage is a model of data storage where the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company.
The keyword here for me, is not logical pools or multiple servers. That description in brackets, location. Check out this image below.
When doing a backup to the Acronis Cloud, you can choose to leave the settings as it is. But, if you are concerned about where the data is actually hosted – and knowing that most, if not all backup solutions are based in the United States and Europe, the data centres they used are naturally out of Singapore soil. In small and medium businesses, and especially when one have to cater for financial data, a prudent action would be to keep it within Singapore territory. Having the choice to keep the data storage in Singapore is most valuable – and certain to reduce the latency required to back up all that data. Especially when you have a lot of them.
Let’s walk through a typical backup process for Acronis TrueImage 2015.
Upon launch, you are presented with the dashboard. Clicking on Add Backup brings initiates the setup – this is a one time process.
As I have already backed up my Entire PC, I now chose to backup my 64GB SD card. (Side note, me being me, I am never satisfied with present storage. If my budget allows for it, I will even put in a 512GB SD card. Waiting for the day, technology enables 1TB and more to be available on SD Card!)
So I go on to choose the SD card. It currently has only 4GB worth of data. (Possibly my dance music remixes.)
Moving along, after I chose Acronis Cloud, I am presented with a dialog box that says how much data I have used so far.
Moving on, I come to this page. Now, at this point, if you want to do a quick backup, you can go ahead and hit Back Up Now. But let’s explore the Options.
You can add the frequency of the backup. If you choose to backup your mail storage or your working folders, I highly suggest that you do daily backups and set the time to 12pm or 1pm. Let the backup occur while you are out having lunch I say. One weight off your shoulders for sure.
You can opt to mail yourself so you know if your data has been backed up – or not. You can also choose what sort of files you do not want to include in the backup.
Going to Advanced is where it gets even more interesting. You can choose to keep the number of copies of the backup. The maximum is 99 recent version. You can opt for Encryption. The standard backup process is already secure. This adds another level of security.
And finally, as have shared before, you can choose which data centre locations you wish for the backup to reside.
As we go full circle, this is the image you saw when you first read this post. There are many more exciting features in the Acronis TrueImage 2015. If you opt to purchase a 3-PC license, you can sync folders between all three PCs. Here’s a short video on how that is done.
All in all, I have advised my office to use Acronis TrueImage – as we needed the reliability and the option to restore from the cloud, in the likelihood of a failure of our NAS in the office. A couple of months ago, our office was broken into and we had a couple of lost equipment. Had we also lost the NAS, which was stored safely in a secure cabinet, you can imagine the amount of data that we have to rebuild. The manpower costs to do that – not just mine, the human resources data, financial records – some of those are simply irreplaceable. No amount of insurance coverage can suitably replace our operational needs.
So, if you managed to read this far down the article, congratulations. It shows that you are serious about backing up your data. And the paragraph above demonstrate that even without an actual data failure – a physical threat can also affect how you store your data. If you have the time to download the Clash of Clans, then you have the time to schedule your backup.