As a journalist, I sometimes have to go on overseas assignments. While my smartphone is an indispensable tool, it is my laptop that is the most important piece of gear when it comes to work.
Lose it and I cannot work properly. Even if I get a replacement computer, I would lose valuable time reinstalling the apps that I need.
But what if I could just connect my new laptop to the Internet and have it configured exactly like my previous computer, including all my apps and documents? This scenario is offered by Acronis with its True Image backup software, which can restore the contents and settings of your old computer on a new machine with a few mouse clicks.
The company recently launched a new version of the software, called True Image Cloud. While previous versions focused on computers (PC and Mac), the latest version adds a mobile backup feature for Android and iOS devices.
The Android app, which I tested, is spartan in terms of features. Sign in with an Acronis account and you can start uploading your contacts, photos, videos and messages to Acronis' cloud server.
PRICE: $139.99 for an annual subscription for one computer and three mobile devices; $214.99 for three computers and 10 mobile devices; $269.99 for five computers and 15 mobile devices
PLATFORMS: PC, Mac, Android, iOS
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
You can set the backup process to occur only when the mobile device is plugged in, and to use Wi-Fi instead of cellular networks. This prevents the app from draining your battery or affecting your mobile data cap.
While I did not test the iOS version, the screenshots I have seen show a similar functionality as the Android app's.
Compared with the PC client with its lengthy list of features, the Android app feels like an afterthought. To be fair, not all of the advanced features, such as creating a rescue disk, are suited for mobile devices.
Despite the lack of frills, the app does an adequate job of saving the data on your mobile devices to Acronis' cloud server.
You can even move data between Android and iOS devices using the new Online Dashboard feature.
Packed with many useful functions, the Online Dashboard is a real boon for the designated IT guy in the family. It shows all your devices that have Acronis True Image installed. It lets you start a backup of any of your devices remotely. It also lets you watch the progress of your backups in real time with a Web browser from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection.
For PC recovery and backup, a new feature is archiving. It scans your folders and sorts the files by type and size. You can then select the files to be uploaded to Acronis' online server. This is useful to free up disk space on your computer. It also makes it easy to spot candidates for archiving, such as videos or large files that have not been used in a while. For those with slower Internet speeds, this approach may be more appropriate than backing up an entire folder or drive.
Files on Acronis' servers can be shared with other users, just like those in other cloud services.
The core backup features from previous versions of True Image are still there, such as back up to local and network storage and create rescue media. Data encryption using the AES-256 standard is supported.
A feature removed in the previous edition, Try and Decide, is back. This saves a snapshot of your system, giving you the freedom to try beta drivers and software. If you encounter an issue, you can easily revert to the older, working version.
I have one quibble, though. When you click on the Try and Decide feature in the Acronis interface, it pops up in a File Explorer window, for you to double-click on its icon to run the feature. It feels like a separate app instead of a software feature. Perhaps long-time users are used to this, but it feels jarring.
Overall, the addition of new features makes Acronis True Image a worthy upgrade for existing users. But new users may baulk at its annual subscription fee.
If you do not need the new cloud and mobile features, Acronis sells a version (Acronis True Image 2016) that backs up a single computer to local storage for $69.99 with no subscription fee.
•An all-in-one backup solution for those with multiple devices.