I recently decided to switch from Carbonite to Acronis True Image as my backup solution. I had been using Carbonite for several years and it has saved my system on several occasions. However, as I’ve previously written, I’ve had problems with both its functionality and the user interface. Recently, I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and was hoping to use Carbonite to assist with the transition. Frequently, when I reinstall Windows (something I do once or twice a year) I’ll find that there are files somewhere on my C: drive that I forgot to backup before reinstalling Windows. (Almost all of my data is on other drives but Windows and some apps insist on storing preferences, customizations and other info on the C: drive.)
Problems with Carbonite Mirror Image… again
Before beginning my upgrade I checked Carbonite to see what snapshots it had stored. I’ve been using its Mirror Image service which keeps a set of daily snapshots of your system drive on a designated external drive. I had previously had some trouble with Mirror Image but the last time I checked it was working properly. That was a couple of months ago. But, in checking on it recently, I learned that the trouble was back. Carbonite only had a single snapshot of my disk. That wasn’t necessarily a problem in terms of my Windows upgrade but it’s definitely a problem in that it wasn’t working correctly and it had not notified me of any problem. So, that was one strike against Carbonite.
Carbonite’s Awkward User Interface
The other problem is that Carbonite’s user interface can be awkward and limiting. As far as I can tell, I can’t restore individual files or folders from a Mirror Image backup. And the web interface for restoring files is practically unusable for more than a few small files at a time. I recently tried to download some of my photos from a cloud backup and I repeatedly got a message saying that the folder size was too large. Carbonite has some arbitrary limit which forces you to download a few files at a time. At that rate, it would have taken me days of clicking to restore my missing photos. Strike two against Carbonite. Fortunately, I had a separate backup which was almost as recent as Carbonite’s.
Acronis True Image Trial
So, before beginning my Windows upgrade I decided to install a trial copy of Acronis True Image 2016 (free 30-day trial). That worked great. It backed up my entire C: drive to an external disk and it did so in less than 10 minutes. Later, after my Windows upgrade was complete, I restored a few missing files and folders from that backup to my new C: drive and that process was also quick and convenient.
After completing my Windows upgrade I then used Acronis True Image to make a complete backup of my new C: drive complete with all my software installed. As before, the backup to an external drive was quick. And, I have the ability to quickly and easily restore individual files as well as the entire drive.
Acronis True Image Cloud Backup
Acronis True Image also offers a cloud backup option and the price compares favorably with Carbonite. But you not only get cloud backup you also get a regular backup solution (i.e., the ability to make local backups). I find that the user interface of True Image is much more straightforward. Also, Acronis Cloud Backup provides an easy option to back up your entire PC which is something that Carbonite does not do (unless you only have a single C: drive). With Carbonite you have to add disks/folders individually.
By default, Carbonite won’t back up certain files like video files. You can override these exceptions but that requires extra work. And, it requires you not to overlook any such files. If you forget a few files here and there you’re just out of luck. I haven’t seen any similar restriction on file types in True Image.
Live vs. Static Backups
One important difference between Carbonite and Acronis True Image is that Carbonite’s backup is an ongoing, “live” copy of what’s on your PC. When you create a new file on your system it automatically gets added to your backup queue. When you delete it a file it is automatically marked for deletion by Carbonite (after a 30-day waiting period in case you need to restore it). There are pros and cons to both types of backup. It’s important to decide which type is more appropriate for your needs.
For me, after considering all these things along with the balky nature of the Carbonite user interface (see my previous posts) and its flakiness, I decided to switch. Of course, a backup solution is only as good as its ability to recover files when needed. I’ve already had success with restoring from local backups in a couple of cases. I’ll need to test recovery from the cloud after I get that set up. And, another critical test is restoring an entire drive from a cloned image. That’s not something I’m going to try just to see if it works unless maybe I can set up a virtual PC. But I’m expecting a less quirky and more reliable experience with True Image.
Windows 10 File History
Right after I made the decision to purchase True Image 2016 I learned that Windows 10 has a new, improved version of backup and file history. I’ll be trying that out, too, and will probably report my experiences here. Learn more about the latest version of Windows backup at Windows Secrets.