My goal when I bought a new PC was to hit the ground running. I'd used Acronis True Image to back up my old computer and restore the data and applications on my new one.
Actually, this is a two-part tale of woe. Today I'll talk about Acronis; in my next column I'll talk about my new PC.
A few months ago I raved about Acronis. In my limited tests it did exactly what it was supposed to do: backup and restore. But I quickly learned that when you need a more complicated backup and restore, that backing up is hard to do.
In the old days, before fancy backup programs, the best way - probably the only way - to back up was to copy each file and folder from the old drive onto floppy disks and copy them to the new drive. Problem with that was you had to reinstall all your applications, a time-consuming process made even more difficult if you can't find the installation disks. Cloud services such as Carbonite automatically back up data files, and can be restored fairly easily, but those services tend to be a bit pricey, especially when compared to low-priced of external USB drives. High-quality external USB drives cost around $50. But you must have an organized file system to back up to an external drive, or you'll be hunting for files all day and night.
Acronis promised to avoid all that by either cloning a hard drive that could be installed on any computer or doing a backup on an external USB drive that contained applications and the Windows or Mac operating system. Macs don't need Acronis, since they have Time Machine, which if it's connected to an external hard drive will take continual snapshots of the Mac's hard drive. Restoring is a snap.
Cut to the chase: Even after 30 phone calls to Acronis tech support (I'm serious!) and hours poring over knowledge-base articles, I finally got the backup to work, installed the necessary drivers and - behold - there on the desktop of my new PC was the desktop of my old PC.
One big problem: While all the icons appeared, nothing would run. I suppose I could have bugged the now-getting-impatient-with-me techies at Acronis, but I decided to do it the old tried-and-true way: Backing up all my data, photos and other files to an external hard drive and copying them to the new hard drive. Yes, I had to install all the applications on the new PC, which took a few hours, but now everything works.
Acronis True Image has been around for awhile, and it's distributed with solid-state hard drive, so maybe it's me. Or maybe it's that the program is difficult to learn. Sometimes hitting the ground running means you can trip, too.
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