There's a computing truism which says you don't back up computer information with a tool such as Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 Family Pack until you've lost it, at least once. You've got to have suffered the loss of your emails, contact list, videos, photos, music, ebooks or documents before you take the simple steps necessary to secure it in more than one place.
With Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 Family Pack, it really is simple, too. This backup program has grown out of the company's original system copying application, which could take a snapshot of everything in a partition of your hard drive. It can still do system backups, but also file backups, online backups, realtime backups and scheduled ones.
When you load a brand new application from a DVD and it immediately wants to download a full, ‘latest version', it smacks of the supplier being unready to launch. That's what happens here and since the Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 Family Pack is good for three machines and the software offers no option to save the download before installing, it extends the installation time considerably. The 71-character serial number doesn't help, either.
Once over this hurdle, though, things are much smoother. The start-up screen sensibly offers a quick help run-through to show what the various parts of the program do, and you can set up working backups through Wizards in a few clicks. If you want finer control, the full backup edit screen offers a comprehensive set of checks. You can schedule backups to fit in with your work-day, too and the Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 Family Pack can back-up open files, useful when securing Outlook PST files, for example.
As well as being able to choose full, version chain, incremental or differential back-ups, the program enables you to control the number and size of these by limiting the number of backup chains, how long they are stored or the total size of the backup on the storage media. That media can be on a second drive inside or outside your PC, on a network drive or in online storage – though you need to pay extra for Acronis's own online offering.
There's also Nonstop back-up, which monitors the folders you select and saves any changes, every five minutes. This is useful for files you work with regularly and emails in Outlook or Mail. The 2012 version can be used with NAS and online backup, as well as locally connected drives.
One of the new features of TrueImage Home 2012 is Sync. As the name suggests, this synchronises selected files and folders between two or more drives or PCs. You need to establish an account with Acronis to do this, but it then makes sure that the latest versions of files are duplicated between the storage media, in every direction. One user has to own the sync and invite others to join, so it can be used between computers on different accounts, as long as each has access to the Acronis website.
On the technical side, the program now supports drives larger than 2TB, even if the native operating system doesn't (the main one is 32-bit Windows XP).
Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 Family Pack also supports GPT and EFI disks; a newer partitioning standard than MBR, giving it wider hardware scope.