Acronis True Image Home 2011 basic concepts
This section provides general information about basic concepts which could be useful for understanding how the program works.
Backup and recovery
Backup refers to the making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to recover the original after a data loss event.
Backups are useful primarily for two purposes. The first is to restore a state following a disaster (called disaster recovery). The second is to recover small numbers of files after they have been accidentally deleted or corrupted.
Acronis True Image Home 2011 does both by creating disk (or partition) images and file-level backups respectively.
By default, Acronis True Image Home 2011 stores an image of those hard disk sections that contain data (for supported file systems). However, you can select an option that lets you include an image of all of the sectors of a hard disk (a sector-by-sector backup). When you back up files and folders, only the data, and folder tree, are is compressed and stored. If the need arises, you will be able to recover both your system disk state and individual files.
Backup versions are the file or files created during each backup operation. If you do not use consolidation feature, the amount of versions created is always equal to the amount of times the backup is executed or to the amount of stored points in time.
So, a version represents a point in time to which the system or data can be recovered. To put it another way, backup versions represent full, incremental and differential backups – see Full, incremental and differential backups.
There is one more type of incremental backup version. If you mount a partition in the read-write mode, the program assumes that the mounted image will be modified and creates an incremental version to capture the changes. This type of incremental version has somewhat different properties. For example, it cannot be consolidated.
The backup versions are similar to file versions. The file versions concept is familiar to those who use a Windows Vista and Windows 7 feature called “Previous versions of files”. This feature allows you to restore a file as it existed on a particular date and time. A backup version allows you to recover your data in a similar way.
This could be useful when trying to find damaged or deleted files. Simply browse through the backup versions in the Acronis Backup Explorer until you find the backup version containing the required files. Additionally, you can recover different saved versions of the found files.
This operation migrates or copies the entire contents of one disk drive to another disk drive. This may be necessary, for example, when installing a larger disk. The result is two identical drives with the same file structure. The “Disk Clone” tool effectively copies all of the contents of one hard disk drive onto another hard disk drive. The operation allows you to transfer all the information (including the operating system and installed programs) from one hard disk drive to another without having to reinstall and reconfigure all of your software.
If you decide to use cloning, the best chance of success is to remove the existing drive from the computer and install the new drive in its place. It should be connected in exactly the same way as the old drive.
Acronis True Image Home 2011 does not provide for cloning a single partition. You can only clone the entire drive.
You can also transfer all the information from your hard disk drive to another one by backing up the entire old hard disk and then recovering the backup to the new disk.
Acronis True Image Home 2011 uses “snapshot” technology which permits you to create system partition backups even while running Windows with files open for reading and writing. Rebooting the computer is not necessary.
Once the program starts the partition backup process, it temporarily freezes all the operations on the partition and creates its “snapshot”. Snapshot creation usually takes just several seconds. After that, the operating system continues working as the imaging process is under way.
The Acronis driver also continues to keep the point-in-time view of the partition. Whenever the driver sees a write operation directed at the partition, it checks whether these sectors are already backed up. If they are not, the driver saves the data on the sectors to be overwritten to a special buffer. Overwriting will then proceed.
All of the partition sectors of the point-in-time will be backed up intact and an exact “image” of the partition will be created.
Backup file format
Acronis True Image Home 2011 usually saves backup data in the proprietary tib format using compression. This reduces the amount of needed storage space. It also allows for backward compatibility with the previous Acronis True Image Home 2011 version.
When creating a tib file, the program calculates checksum values for data blocks and adds these values to the data being backed up. These checksum values allow for the verification of data integrity.
The data from tib file backups can be recovered only through the Acronis True Image Home 2011 program. This may be done in a Windows or in the recovery environment.
However, Acronis True Image Home 2011 is also able to save data in the well-known zip format. This allows you to retrieve files from backups anywhere without using Acronis True Image Home 2011.
For example, you can back up files to a USB stick and retrieve files from such backups on your notebook without installing Acronis True Image Home 2011. The most widely used operating systems Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, have built-in support for the zip file format.
Acronis Nonstop Backup uses a special hidden storage for data and metadata. The backed up data is compressed and split into files of about 1 GB. These files also have a proprietary format and the data they contain can be recovered only with the help of Acronis True Image Home 2011.
The backup validation feature allows you to confirm that your system can be recovered. As mentioned above, the program adds checksum values to the data blocks being backed up. During backup validation, Acronis True Image Home 2011 opens the backup file, recalculates the checksum values and compares those values with the stored ones. If all compared values match, the backup file is not corrupted and there is a high probability that the backup can be successfully used for data recovery.
We recommend that validation of system partition backups take place when booting from a rescue media.
Acronis True Image Home 2011 lets users of Windows 7 Enterprise and Window 7 Ultimate ensure that they will be able to boot after a recovered system partition. The program allows you to boot from a tib file containing the system partition image. It converts the tib file into a VHD file which is then used for actual booting. If you can boot from the converted vhd file, you will be able to boot after recovering this backup to your disk.
Consolidation allows you to delete backups which are no longer needed from a backup chain.
A chain to be consolidated can be comprised of a full backup and one or more incremental backups.
If necessary, you can delete the base full backup from the chain. The program will create a new full backup in place of the oldest remaining backup. Consolidation keeps whichever backups you choose and de
letes any backups that are not selected.
Since consolidation may require significant time and system resources (including disk space), we recommend using it sparingly. In many cases, starting a new backup chain and then deleting the old one will be a better choice.
Acronis Nonstop Backup uses a different consolidation mechanism. The program consolidates the metadata it uses for managing the backed up data. Because the metadata information volume is significantly less than the backed up data volume, consolidation requires much less time and system resources.
Recovering from a disaster usually requires a rescue media.
Acronis True Image Home 2011 provides for recovery from a disaster caused by system data corruption, viruses, or malware.
If the operating system fails to boot, Acronis True Image Home 2011 will recover the system partition. The boxed product comes with a rescue CD. Other legal owners of the program can create a rescue media by using the Media Builder tool.
For your backups to be really helpful, they must be as “up-to-date” as possible. This means that you should run backups on a regular basis, say once a day. Although creating an Acronis True Image Home 2011 backup is quite easy, on occasion, you may forget to do a backup.
With the scheduler, you do not have to remember. You can schedule automatic backups ahead of time. Your data will be backed up as long as there is sufficient disk space.
Understanding these terms and concepts will be helpful when using the program’s features.