Annual updates can often prove extremely difficult for developers, and there are few areas that can pose more problems than the world of backup. The issue is that when you’ve built a well-streamlined problem, you’ve created a situation where there can’t be much more to add to your product without veering well and truly off topic. Acronis already offers scheduled backup and restore, including altering partition sizes in the process. It offers non-stop backup, disk cloning and imaging and it long ago introduced its Try & Decide module for testing new software in a quarantined environment.
True Image Home 2012 moves into an area that isn’t quite backup, but thankfully it’s more than close enough that Acronis can comfortably include it: synchronisation. Few would argue it’s a replacement for proper backup, but services such as Dropbox, SafeSync and Live Mesh are hugely popular and there’s a solid reason for that: the incredible convenience. Update a file at work, and it’s ready for you in its latest form when you get home.
Acronis works in largely the same way: you set up an account, choose a folder (only one per sync process), and leave it to do its thing. That said, it isn’t exactly the same as the free alternatives: you’ll need True Image Home 2012 installed on every system you want to sync, it doesn’t work with proxy servers, and there’s no web access to your files, unless you enable file versioning and sign up to the Acronis online storage which has additional costs. It’s certainly a neat addition if you’re already an Acronis user, and Online is now integrated into the main True Image interface. If you’re not, however, we can’t help but feel a bit wary of throwing all our eggs into one Acronis basket.
There are also a few other changes to features from earlier versions as well. True Image Home 2012 offers greatly improved support for NAS devices: the software now finds and recognises them as a disk, rather than requiring you to wade through network trees, and non-stop backup will finally work properly with network storage. Given the increasing popularity of the NAS as a home device and the ongoing simplification of the installation and running of a home NAS, Acronis’ decision to add improved support in this version is extremely welcome. Also, if you’re still running Windows XP (which a surprisingly large number of users around the world are), the software will now make disks larger than 2TB usable with little fuss.
The other tempter for the new version is the revamped user interface. It borrows large elements from True Image 2011, such as the expandable horizontal backup listings, but it then moves them into one place and puts them beneath a ribbon-like toolbar, sporting large icons in simple a row.
There’s a clean, intuitive Get Started screen that strips out all complications for novices, while advanced users wanting to garner a greater level of accessibility and control can, with one click, integrate True Image into the Windows control panel and even other system areas.
It’s all good stuff, if not exactly a game-changing great leap forward, but we’re no longer convinced expensive backup software is ideal for most home users. The popularity of free sync services such as Dropbox is rocketing, while online backup services such as Carbonite take ease of use to a level Acronis hasn’t yet managed to match. If your bandwith and usage allowance isn’t up to that, the low cost of huge hard disks and Windows’ own backup utility is rendering complex backup suites unnecessary for all but the most advanced users.
That said, if you want it all in one package, True Image Home 2012 is rather well put together, and it certainly does pretty much anything a home user could ask for. We don’t think the move into synchronisation is likely to pull up any trees, and it certainly doesn’t justify an upgrade from last year’s version, but it’s a neat addition to a good all-round piece of software.