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“Fly disk” is always an event. If it happens in the sky with a large crowd of people, it’s worth waiting for reports on television and enthusiastic comments from ufologists. If this happened on your computer, everything is much sadder: you will have to painstakingly recover lost files and hope that the most valuable does not die forever. And you can avoid this altogether if you managed to make backup copies, for the creation of which mankind has come up with special automated programs. A review of the most popular of them is dedicated to this article.
But Stirlitz managed to survive
It is necessary to make backup copies of the most valuable files in advance – this is obvious and should make it a habit for any user how to wash their hands before eating or put on a hat in the cold. True, lovers of frostbite ears do not get smaller over the years, and therefore companies specializing in data recovery are mostly not in poverty. Truly a golden age for them came with the beginning of the mass distribution of encoder Trojans, when the victims, whose files were encrypted with malware, in the thousands. Now, ransomware epidemics seem to have gradually subsided, but protecting against the loss of valuable data is still important. Any equipment, unfortunately, can break. And some – even suddenly.
It is also obvious that you need to copy information to external drives that are independent of the main storage device. If you just save the files in the next section of the hard drive, it is very likely to be covered with the hard drive if it has problems with the hardware or logic. Previously, optical disks were used for these purposes, but, firstly, they are short-lived, secondly, they are limited by the volume and the maximum number of recording iterations, thirdly, the speed of access to the optical drive is very low, and fourthly, writers maybe it’s possible to find only in the museum, fifthly … Yes, and that's enough. The reasons already listed are enough to declare responsibly: optics are the last century, although very many companies (and even ordinary users) still store their documents on DVD.
Flash drives, due to their small size and low speed with the USB bus, are also not very good for backup. Therefore, the best option is an external hard drive or an SSD drive, cloud storage or a remote FTP server. Another option may be NAS – Network-Attached storage, the so-called network storage. Compared to an external hard drive, it benefits by not requiring a direct connection to a computer: NAS is a mini-computer in itself, the main task of which is to organize data exchange over a network and write it to a disk or RAID array. NAS firmware is usually based on some heavily cropped version of Linux.
The device lives quietly on its local network, playing the role of a network file sharing service that you can upload anything to, this is convenient – you can contact it at any time, for example, automatically copy files to it according to a schedule or while the computer is idle. This is one of the drawbacks of NAS: most encoder trojans can perfectly encrypt the contents of network folders attached to Windows, and sometimes vulnerabilities used by cybercriminals are sometimes found in the firmware of the storages themselves. So, in 2014, a trojan called Trojan.Encoder.737 encrypted files located on network storages produced by one well-known company, and demanded $ 350 for their recovery. He penetrated there, using a vulnerability in the firmware of the device. The developer quickly patched the hole, but those users who did not have time to update on time still suffered from this threat.
Now let's figure out what types of backups are generally in the world. Most often there are three options:
- full copy – when a full copy of all selected data is created;
- incremental copying – when only files that have been modified since any last copy are added to the copy;
- differential – add to the archive only data that has changed since the last full copy was saved.
So, let's imagine that we have a place where we are going to store backups: it is an external drive, NAS, or the cloud. But most of all, elementary laziness interferes with introducing backup into everyday practice. Indeed: you need to distract from your favorite toys, remember what files have changed since the last backup, upload them to the storage … A simple solution suggests itself: to automate this process as much as possible using suitable software. And if macOS has, for example, a built-in application for backup Time Machine, then the developers of Windows did not provide such a convenient tool as part of the OS, and happy users of this platform have to look for third-party products.
In other words, we need to find a suitable program – ideally free, supporting scheduled work, having the ability to save copies on the network or in the cloud, and preferably including the maximum number of types of backup (best of all three). So what does the market offer us?
Acronis True Image
Probably everyone heard about Acronis products. The logos of this company flaunt on the Formula 1 car of the Russian pilot Daniil Kvyat, and there are enough Acronis ads on the Internet. Actually, the office throughout its history has been specializing in the development of software for backup and therefore has achieved certain successes in this field. For home users, the company offers the Acronis True Image program, which is distributed both as a licensed version for one installation and as a subscription.
The basic version of the application includes copying a disk image or selected files to a user-specified storage, restoring data from a backup copy, cloning disk partitions and protection against encryptors (the application monitors processes running in the system and warns the user when trying to encrypt files: a potentially dangerous process will be offered to the user block). Subscription customers also get access to cloud storage on Acronis 250 GB servers (or 1 TB, depending on how much you’re willing to fork out).
The program itself in version 2020 can boast of a clear and convenient user interface: you select the local disk and files you want to create a backup of, show where to upload the archive, and as a destination you can choose a locally connected device, a remote FTP server, NAS or any cloud, and … And, actually, that's all. If desired, the backup can be encrypted, and in the “Activity → Settings” section, you can set the schedule and backup scheme for the selected objects.
All three possible copy schemes are supported, you can also configure exceptions for objects that you do not need to copy, and specify the frequency of creating a full copy.
The usability of Acronis True Image is limited, in fact, while the most significant drawback of the program is a commercial license. If it expires, you will not be able to restore data from a backup copy. In addition, if you stop paying for a subscription, copies in the Acronis cloud will also be deleted after a while. Is such a copy storage tool reliable? Everyone is free to give their own answer, and in the meantime, we will look for a free alternative to this application.
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