Welcome to our Acronis Backup 12.5 review, where we’ll be taking a look at Acronis’ latest take on its versatile disaster recovery solution to see where it stands in relation to the best online backup for business solutions available today. If you’re looking for a home-based backup solution, you’ll want to check out our Acronis True Image review, instead.
The nutshell version is that, if you can swallow the rather hefty price tag attached to Acronis Backup, you’ll be getting cutting-edge software that can match features with just about any other online backup service that springs to mind. A modern cloud console, fast speeds, 24/7 live support and hybrid backup are just a glimpse of the bounty.
Keep reading to find out what else we liked — and what we didn’t.
- Fast backup speeds
- Cloud-based console
- 24/7 live support
- Hybrid backup
- Cloud-to-cloud backup
- Private encryption
- Bare-metal restores
- No two-factor authentication
- No Linux desktop client
Acronis Backup 12.5 is designed to provide disaster recovery for a broad range of operating systems. In fact, the company website boasts the ability backup 21 different platforms, although Linux desktop users are out of luck. During this guide, we’ll be primarily focused on workstation backup, which is available for Windows and Mac, but both physical and virtual servers are supported, too.
Acronis Backup also provides tools to backup smartphones, including Android and iOS devices. For many business users, this will be a key feature given how much data we collect on our mobile devices.
Most online backup services require backup plans to be setup through a desktop client. Acronis takes a different approach, and does so to great effect. While you have to download an Acronis agent in order to run backup, everything else can take place via a cloud console.
For those businesses who can’t use a browser interface to access backup for compliance reasons, a desktop client is available, too. We performed our review using the cloud console, however.
You can use the Acronis client by itself to backup to your own servers or NAS devices, or you can purchase space in the Acronis Cloud. Acronis also supports hybrid backup, so you can perform online and on-premises backup simultaneously. Hybrid backup provides the benefits of both cloud and local storage, which you can read more about in our hybrid backup setup guide for SMBs.
Cloud-to-cloud backup is available, as well. Cloud services that can be copied to the Acronis Cloud include Amazon EC3, Azure or private cloud setups.
Another nice feature is that Acronis lets you perform recovery to machines with different hardware, which is something you won’t get with most basic online backup services. This is known as cloning. Check out our best disk-imaging software for some other backup services that can clone.
Acronis Backup as we’ll see is incredibly customizable. You can define your own file versioning policy, set file compression and encryption levels, and manage your workforce through an admin dashboard.
Backup 12.5 is as rich in features as any online backup tool that comes to mind. In fact, we’re really just scraping the surface. If you can think of it, it probably does it.
Acronis Backup 12.5 comes in two different editions, standard and advanced. Each requires a minimum of a one-year commitment, so it’s probably best to sign up for the 30-day trial first to make sure you’re buying the best online backup for your business.
If you’re convinced that you are, you can sign up for a two or three-year commitment, instead, or even purchase a perpetual (lifetime) license. However, perpetual licenses don’t include access to the cloud console or Office 365 mailbox support.
Backup 12.5 Standard -- Workstation
Backup 12.5 Standard -- Advanced
Backup 12.5 Standard - Server
Backup 12.5 Advanced - Server
|1-Year Subscription :||$69||$99||$499||$839|
|2-Year Subscription :||$129||$179||$769||$1319|
|3-Year Subscription :||$179||$249||$1049||$1,799|
In addition to licensing costs, there are charges attached to the use of the Acronis cloud infrastructure.
This is where Acronis becomes substantially more expensive than value-driven online backup services. The payoff is in features, support and speed.
However, if you’re a smaller business without that kind of wiggle room, IDrive for Business offers free courier backup and recovery service will help lessen the impact of the speed woes some — particularly when coupled with the fact that it’s about $1500 per year cheaper for 2TB of backup, and has some pretty nice features of its own.
Acronis Backup 12.5 doesn’t provide the set-and-forget user friendliness of a service like Backblaze, but Backblaze is a bit of an outlier when it comes to ease of use. Compared to services like IDrive, CloudBerry or MozyPro, it shouldn’t take long for most users to get up to speed.
In fact, some love the fact that rather than use a desktop client, Acronis lets you manage your backup process using a web console.
Overall, the console is nicely designed with slide-out panels to maximize white space and give the experience a modern feel that you won’t find with a desktop client.
Along the left margin of the console, you’ll find navigation links to view devices attached to your account, access backups, review account activity and view alerts. We’ll take a closer look at the interface when we review the backup and recovery experience in the next segment.
Acronis also has an admin console used for adding users, viewing information for devices backed up under your account, running reports and other tasks.
If you’re managing multiple users, you many want to go with Backup 12.5 Advanced rather than the Standard edition. That’s because the standard edition doesn’t include some essential tools like customizable reporting and role-based access to your backup account.
Once you’ve signed up for service, you’ll need to download an Acronis Backup agent on the machine you want to backup. You can do so by logging into your account online at Acronis.com to access Acronis Backup management console.
Click the button in the center of the screen that reads “add device.” A menu with supported platforms will slide out from the right side of your computer screen, letting you download the appropriate agent for your machine.
After the installation completes, you’re ready get started devising your backup plan in the management console, where your device should now appear.
Click “enable backup” and a window will slide out from the right with several options. The first is “backup,” which includes several options for tailoring your plan.
The first option is choosing what to backup. By default, this is set to “entire machine,” but you can narrow it down if you don’t want to end up spending money on files you don’t care about. The Acronis team did a nice job here, providing users with several different backup options, including:
- System state
Most often, if you’re looking to limit the costs as most business are, the best choice is going to be files/folders. That’s how most other online backups services work, with a few exceptions like Backblaze for Business, which provides unlimited backup, but without all of the excellent bells and whistles you get with Acronis Backup 12.5.
If you choose files/folders (or disks/volumes), the next step will be to select what you want to backup. You do so by browsing your directory structure and selecting exactly what you want to protect. You can also select content from mapped network drives.
You need to pick a location to backup, too. If you’ve purchased space in the Acronis Cloud, you can use that. Otherwise, you’ll need to select a local or network folder.
During this phase, you’ll also set a schedule. Scheduling options are flexible, letting you run backups hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. You can set both start times and cut-off times for backup to run.
The final two steps are defining your versioning policy to retain previous file states and turning on encryption. Click “run now” and you’ll set your plan into motion. We tested the speed of moving 1TB to the Acronis cloud which you can read about in our “speed” section, next.
Once your basic plan has been created, there are some advanced settings you can play with by clicking on the gear icon and going to “backup options.” These include the ability to set file type exclusions, alerts, error handling and even the level of file compression.
That’s a very basic look at the backup process for a Windows workstation. The process will be somewhat different for backing up different platforms, but the tools are the same.
Recovery operations are run from the “restore” tab of the cloud console by clicking on the “recover/restore” files button.
You can select files or folder and choose to recover to them to either their original file path or a new file path, or you can download a zip file with your content. You can also restore files from one machine to another on your account.
There’s an option to download an ISO image of your backup, as well, which can be used to create bootable media like a USB drive to recover non-booting machines.
There’s really too much to talk about to touch on everything, but generally speaking, the backup and recovery experience Acronis provides is excellent. The combination of ease of use and features make it a good choice for smaller businesses that want to get up and running quickly and larger business with more intricate IT needs.
Earlier we noted that Acronis can get substantially more expensive than some other online backup options. One of the biggest advantages in that investment is speed.
We made that determination after running several speed tests, sending a 1TB compressed folder to the cloud and then recovering it. These tests were performed over a WiFi network with a measured 23/60 Mbps connection (while in Bali, Indonesia).
Here are our results:
[add speed table]
Many online backup services take over an hour (sometimes much longer) to upload a single gigabyte of data. CrashPlan, for example, tops out at around 10GB uploaded per day regardless of your Internet connection speed.
Acronis Backup 12.5 seems to do a much better job taking advantage of available bandwidth — and our tests were performed with file encryption (AES-256) on, a process that adds to the time.
Part of the reason for the better speeds may be that Acronis maintains more data centers than options what you’ll get with value-drive online backup options. In fact, the company has a global network of data centers, which will reduce the chance of bottlenecks and ensure that your data doesn’t have too far to travel.
Future uploads following your initial backup should run even faster, because Backup 12.5 uses block-level file file transfers, which means that only the changed parts of files that have already been backed up get recopied.
For even faster speeds, you can reduce the encryption level or play with the compression settings. Lower compression runs faster, but it means that your backup will consume more space.
File download speeds also ran better than other backup solutions we’ve used, though the difference was less pronounced. Some form of courier recovery service like you get with IDrive would be nice to speed things along, but otherwise we don’t have any complaints.
By default, data doesn’t get encrypted with Acronis. However, you can (and should) turn on encryption. Your security settings can only be altered prior to putting a backup plan in place, so if you decide to change it later, you’ll need to create a whole new backup plan.
The encryption protocol Acronis is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and there are three levels available: 128, 192 and 256-bit. In addition to picking a level of encryption, you’ll also be asked to set a password.
Encryption runs client-side and end to end, meaning your files get scrambled before leaving your computer and don’t get unscrambled until you recover them. On top of that, your encryption password isn’t stored anywhere in Acronis, so nobody but you will ever be able to decrypt them.
That approach, sometimes called zero-knowledge encryption, provides maximum protection for your content, ensuring that nobody — not even Acronis — can read your files. However, it also means that if you forget your password, you’re locked out of your backup, so be sure and keep it somewhere safe.
Acronis Backup 12.5 does miss the mark by not also offering two-factor authentication. Given that weak passwords are a common cause of data breaches for businesses, this is something we’d like to see the company add.
Copies of your files are backed up to multiple servers for redundancy in case of a server failure, and the data centers themselves are designed for disaster mitigation. That includes fire suppression measures, power backup and temperature monitoring.
Data centers are also secured against infiltration with 24/7 patrols, video surveillance, biometric scanners and fencing.
Acronis Backup 12.5 also provides protection against ransomware with what it calls Acronis Active Protection. It works by actively scanning for patterns in the way that files are being altered, looking for evidence of ransomware infection. This feature can be configured while creating your backup plan.
For businesses that work with patient health data covered by HIPAA, Acronis is compliant with the information protection standards laid and offers a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
Acronis maintains an online support portal for Backup 12.5 where you find articles on basic procedures, troubleshooting and FAQs. Articles are sorted by category in the left-side margin or you can use a search feature to find relevant content.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, there’s a “contact support” icon on the main Acronis support page you can click on.
Live contact options include 24/7 telephone support and chat, which is another benefit you won’t get from most value-based online backup tools. (as you can read in our IDrive for Business review, that service comes the closest with 24/7 chat, but no telephone). Email support is available, too, with initial response times under 24 hours.
Finally, Acronis provides access to a helpful user community, where you can solicit advice from others on things like approaches to hybrid backup or server recommendations.
For many, maybe most compelling reason to pick Acronis Backup 12.5 over significantly cheaper options is its fast upload speeds. Although, after having tested so many slower options, perhaps we’re a bit seduced. Other reasons, including a modern user experience, great platform options (minus Linux desktop), hybrid backup, cloning, 24/7 live chat and telephone support are all pretty convincing, too.
The bottom line: it’s not cheap and it’s probably better suited to larger rather than smaller businesses. But, if you’ve got money to spend and want a disaster recovery solution that won’t let you down, you can’t do much much better than Acronis Backup. If the cost is prohibitive, cheaper alternatives worth checking out can be found in our best online backup for business overview.
Care to share your own thoughts on Acronis Backup 12.5 or have a few burning questions that need answering? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading.