Acronis True Image 2011 Review

Dennis Faas's picture

Since 2004, has recommended Acronis True Image to its readers as -the- ultimate backup and disaster recovery solution for Microsoft Windows. There are many new exciting changes to discuss with True Image 2011, but first, let's start with the basics.

What Exactly is Acronis True Image?

To put it in simple terms, Acronis True Image is a backup program on steroids. In order to explain how it's different compared to other run-of-the-mill simple backup programs, let me explain what True Image does.

With simple backup programs, you can only archive your files onto another location (for example). On the other hand, True Image qualifies as full-blown "disaster recovery software" because in addition to backing up your personal files, it also has the capability of reverting your entire operating system (MS Windows) to a previously healthy state.

So, if your system is ever hit with a virus or malware infection and you need to "go back in time", True Image can revert your entire PC to a state when everything was in perfect working order. Simple backup software can't do this.

True Image Can Also: Migrate to New OS, or Upgrade Hard Drives

Acronis True Image can also be used to help you migrate from an old operating system to a new one (from Windows XP to Windows 7, for example), and can even move the entire contents of an older (smaller) hard drive onto a newer, larger hard drive -- all the while keeping your existing operating system and data in tact. If you just purchased an SSD (solid state disk) and want to transfer your operating system over to the SSD, Acronis True Image can help with that, too.

From Old Windows to the New Windows 7

Many of our readers have taken their first step toward migrating to Windows 7.

That said, the preferred method of installing a brand new operating system is to do so using a clean installation (I.E.: formatting / erasing your entire hard drive), which ensures there are absolutely no conflicts with pre-existing applications or settings.

If you are a Windows XP user moving to Windows 7, you have no choice but to do a clean install of Windows 7. Only Windows Vista users are able to install Windows 7 over top of Windows Vista (which allows you to keep all your settings and data in place). But even so, a clean install is always recommended.

Windows 7 Upgrade Tip: Although it is not necessary to backup your entire computer before you install a new operating system, it is advised. For this reason, we *highly* recommend using Acronis True Image if you plan on accessing any of your old data after Windows 7 is installed to your PC.

Acronis Makes it Easy to Backup

Because Acronis can be configured to backup your entire computer (operating system included), deciding which files to backup is easy. If you backup everything, there's no worry of leaving anything out. And because the cost of external hard drives are dirt cheap these days, there's virtually no reason why you shouldn't backup your entire system onto an external unit -- this is especially true if you plan on upgrading to Windows 7.

What's New in Acronis True Image 2011?

There are many new changes in Acronis 2011 -- so many in fact, I've kept the points short to help keep things simple:

  • Selective / Simple File Backup: allows you to archive emails, documents, pictures, and whatever else you need backed up.
  • NEW: Interface: completely new and redesigned interface that makes the software even easier to use.
  • NEW: Hardware Compatibility Enhancements: support for pre-existing, as well as newer computer hardware.
  • Predefined back-up schemes: designed to meet specific needs, you can choose to backup emails only, specific user files, or entire hard drive, for example.
  • NEW: Backup Timeline: keeps track of Windows updates and software installations; allows you to roll back your PC if necessary.
  • Automatic updates: new versions of True Image are downloaded to the PC automatically (when they are available).
  • Local / Remote / Online Backups: backup your data on to your local PC, on a network, or even the Internet.
  • Try-and-Decide Mode: allows you to safely install a program, try it on your PC, and then revert your entire system back to the state it was before you had that program installed. This is explained in detail further down.
  • NEW: Support for USB 3.0: If your computer can read and write data through a USB 3.0 port, then Acronis True Image Home 2011 can back-up and restore your data at the much higher data transfer rates using this new technology.
  • NEW: Support for dynamic/GPT disks used for hard drive partitions larger than 2TB. This is explained in detail further down.
  • NEW: Enhanced Up-to-the-Minute, Non-Stop Backup: backup your files in real-time. You can undo changes made to a document or file -- minutes, days, or weeks later. This is explained in detail further down.
  • NEW: Enhanced scheduling function: backup during a shutdown, or have the computer wakeup for a backup during sleep / hibernation. This is explained in detail further down.

Acronis 2011: Some Newest Features in Detail

I don't like long-winded reviews, so I'm going to highlight some of the best features Acronis True Image 2011 immediately below.

Enhanced Up-to-the-Minute, Non-Stop Backup

The non-stop backup feature incrementally update back-ups of both system and user data files and allows you to enable quick and easy recovery to a previous state.

For example, this capability also provides near-continuous data protection making it possible to revert to previous states of your documents even after you delete important information or make some changes that you want to undo -- minutes, days, or even weeks later.

This is done using a browser that resembles Windows Explorer, which comes complete with an integrated search facility, allowing you to find and restore whatever file you would like to recover. Of course, you can also restore your entire database of files, or even your entire system, if you wish.

Enhanced Scheduling Function

Acronis True Image Home 2011 allows you to awaken a sleeping / hibernating computer to perform a scheduled back-up.

Within Windows Vista and Windows 7, back-ups can also be triggered automatically at system shutdown and at user logoff. The new scheduler also allows a scheduled task to run on one or more dates you specify, or at regular intervals. As you might expect, scheduling any combination of back-up methods and automatic consolidation schemes is extremely easy, allowing you to schedule implementations of whatever back-up strategies you prefer.

You can even program a task once and leave it essentially on hold, then trigger it manually as often or as infrequently as you wish. This new scheduler also permits you to clone a pre-programmed task, and then make changes in the copy -- which is particularly useful when you want the software to perform similar but different tasks on different schedules.

Once your data is backed-up, Acronis True Image Home 2011 offers an improved validation utility that's extremely selective. This saves time and effort, because the software can make sure of the accuracy of just the newest back-up, rather than having to check over previous back-ups which it has validated before.

Support for Hard drive Partitions Larger than 2TB

This new version also supports operations with dynamic/GPT disks (the GUID Partition Table (GPT) is a new hard disk partitioning scheme that provides significant advantages over the old MBR partitioning scheme, and is part of the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) initiative). This greatly expands the range of hard drive configurations you can use with your computer and still keep your data thoroughly protected.

Try and Decide Mode

This feature of Acronis True Image creates a "test" or "development" copy of your computer's operating system and data.

As long as Try & Decide is active, all computer work -- changing data files, installing and removing software, changing system settings, opening email attachments, visiting suspicious websites, and so forth -- happens only in the test system. You can even shut down and reboot within the Try & Decide protection mode. If you don't like one of the changes, canceling Try & Decide will restore your system to its previous condition.

Of course, Acronis True Image Home 2011 still handles back-ups of any set of files and folders, as well as entire file categories, along with settings and messages from Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Windows Mail. It makes full, incremental and differential back-ups with ease, and also allows for Try & Decide.


Simply put, Acronis True Image is a utility that you most definitely want to have on your box full of goodies to make your computer complete. You can use it to backup your operating system, personal files, or even transfer from a smaller hard drive to a larger drive. And most importantly, True Image is especially useful if you're upgrading to Windows 7 from XP or Vista.

For more information, go to Acronis' web site to get the latest version of True Image.

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