Jack Wallen tests the Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office app, a disaster recovery utility anyone can use to create a full disk clone of critical systems with ease.
Whether you’re a parent, small business owner, or mid-sized business IT manager, when it comes to your data, you need to take steps to ensure it’s always backed up.
In terms of backup, you can follow two similar but distinctive paths: folder-level backup or machine-level backup. Folder-level backups are just what they sound like—backing up only the folders that contain the important data your organization needs. The machine-level backup goes one step further and creates an image of your entire drive. Machine-level backups are a good option for many because they back up everything (including the operating system), so should something go wrong, you should be able to easily restore that machine to a working state.
TO SEE: Power Checklist: Troubleshooting Hard Drive Problems (Tech Republic Premium)
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides a robust imaging tool that guides you through creating a complete image of your running machine and gives you a choice of destinations to house the image. The same tool also allows you to create an emergency boot disk in case you need to recover a system that refuses to boot.
How Acronis works
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Fear not: Even if you are not that adept at using technology, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office can successfully create an image of your system. The process goes a bit like this:
- Open Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office.
- Use the image editing tool to create a full disk image of your machine.
- Create a startup disk for your machine.
- If something goes wrong with the machine in question, boot it with the emergency disk.
- Restore the image using the startup disk.
Acronis has removed many of the complications from the process so anyone can do a full image backup or create an active disk clone to help you migrate all your data to a bigger or faster disk – all while enjoying their anti-malware protection.
I tested the cloning process on a MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey and a simple external USB drive. Once the drive was detected by macOS, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office was ready to clone (Image A).
Easy disk cloning
The process of cloning the drive will format and erase the destination drive. Don’t try to use an external drive in the hope of preserving data; either use a brand new external drive or one that doesn’t contain anything important.
There are two remarks to be made here. First, I found that creating a disk image doesn’t seem to work with a destination drive that isn’t directly connected to the host. No SMB share or NAS location that the MacBook had access to were valid destinations for the image. With that in mind, you’ll definitely need an external USB drive for the job. Second, the recovery process built into Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office only works when the image is copied to the original machine. Yes, a new drive can be installed on that machine, but everything else should remain the same.
If you need to recover the image on a completely different machine, you will need to download and install another utility called Acronis Universal Restorewhich creates a specific rescue disk that allows you to copy the cloned image from one machine to another, as long as the internal disk is the same size or larger than the original.
The process of creating the cloned image takes some time. This is a task that you will want to do overnight when you do not need to use the machine.
In this vein, another minor complaint I have is that Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office didn’t actually calculate the time remaining. Instead of even giving me an estimate, the “Calculating Time Remaining” text never changed (even when the cloning process was a quarter complete – Figure B). I don’t think this is against Acronis because the inability to calculate the time for such actions is quite universal.
Ultimately, the single most important aspect of Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is that of disk imaging, and I can’t remember the last time I used a tool that made this task so easy. This came as a surprise to me, as I used to be dealing with the older Acronis tools that required the skills of an IT administrator. For those without those skills, who really want to make sure they can clone their hard drives in an emergency, it would be hard to find a better solution.
For those less experienced in IT, but still want to enjoy the security that comes with having a full machine backup, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is the tool to use. And given that peace of mind can be had for as little as $89.99/year (on sale now for $53.99/year), this might just be the tool you need for your home office disaster recovery plan.
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