Acronis Backup

Last week I got to setup a backup solution for a small office. After researching the client’s needs decided on using Acronis as the backup software. Below is the account of the whole experience:

Bottom-line: Like Acronis, would recommend it for similar situations.
Pros: A very solid, well-written program, easy to use, does what it says it will do
Cons: Rather high cost, atrocious error messages

One of my clients has a small 3-system office with no centralized server. All systems contain data that must be backed up. As one system is a lot more powerful than the other two combined it was decided that it will be used to pull all the backups together and store it on removable hard drives which could be rotated.

It became immediately obvious that built-in Windows Backup will not be a good solution. The reason is very simple. Microsoft has done some amazing things in the world of software. They have started Terminal Services back in the days of Windows NT and over time have made it into a very solid product. They have created Exchange Server – a wonderful product if your organization is rich enough. The Server 2012 implementation of Hyper-V is nothing short of spectacular, I would write poetry about it if I had the talent. However, there is one thing that has consistently bested the Redmond software giant. Not all combined developer talent, not even Bill Gates’ bank account could ever allow Microsoft any success in this area and as of the time of writing of this article the task of emailing the backup log still remains an impossible one to that company. That is why I had to look for a third-party solution.

In doing research about Acronis I found that a lot of people found it difficult to use. Not sure why, to me it seems like a very well written program, very easy to use, I found every feature I was looking for on the first click.

Acronis as all other backup programs I have tried has cheerfully failed to backup a system to a network drive. Error messages as in all other programs complain about VSS. This experience combined with others leads me to believe that backing up to a network drive in a workgroup environment will not work. In a domain environment I have never had a problem with that. As the task fails pretty much immediately I conclude that it has to do with authentication. I don’t know if it has to do with VSS itself or with how these programs use it but it seems that in the workgroup environment no matter what credentials you specify the program presents them to the other system in an unusable way. In a domain it seems to¬† have no such problem with AD accounts.

What made Acronis different was that is has a feature that lets it backup to an ftp server. So what I did was setup the ftp server on the target machine and point the backup software to it. Backs up like a champ every night.

One thing I was very disappointed with Acronis for was the error messages program gives. The messages are lengthy, horribly written, have nothing to do with what the problem really is and if you search the Acronis website for their own error codes you come up with exactly zero matches.

What I was pleased with was that it is not some small fly-by-night program. The interface and the program responsiveness are very solid, the list of available features is very impressive. Will definitely look to them first should I need a third party backup solution again.

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