This is a lengthy (but simple) guide on how I get files ready for a clean install of Windows, backup and restore Windows (C Drive and associated hidden Windows partitions) using Acronis True Image 2020).

Backup Rules

  1. Backup to Three Places.
  2. Two of the media need to be different
  3. One of the backups need to be offsite

Even though I use Back blaze software to automate backup of all files on my PC for $6.60 (AUD) a month. I pay an extra $2 (AUD) a month Backblaze will retain all of my files for up to 1 year. I also back up data to Backblaze Bucket(s) with Duplicati.

With all the horror stories of Windows updates killing machine’s it’s time to return to using Acronis True Image (not a paid endorsement) to start backing up the drive my Windows is on (all partitions)

I remember using Acronis True Image 8 in 2004 and loved it. Time to buy the new version. I loaded https://acronis.com/ (Australia Region) and noticed a cloud backup in the marketing information. I hope they still do local backups line in 2004.

Acronis True Image 2020 Cloud

I loaded the Acronis True Image 2020 link from the downtown menu (Australian link).

Acronis True Image 2020 Download Menu at acronis dot com

$69.99 seems fair,

Acronis True Image 2020 buy now button at acronis dot com

Darn, $69.99 is a yearly subscription. I don’t like subscriptions if I can get away with it.

Acronis True Image 2020 subscription and standalone options  at acronis dot com

I clicked Buy under standard licence.

Acronis True Image 2020 was $83.99 AUD at acronis dot com

$83.99 is a bit high

Saving a dollar

TIP: Make sure you install the Honey Extension (from joinhoney.com) and use the Google Chrome Web Browser before purchasing to get a discount on Acronis True Image 2020.

Honey applied a discount price

The Honey extension applied the coupon so fast I could not get a screenshot  it(so here is a screenshot with American Currency from a different web browser)

Honey applying a coupon in seconds

Now back to my purchase (and country), $33.60 is a nice saving.  

I am paying for this because 16+ years ago I used an older version of Acronis True Image and the free version backed up OK but when I tried to restore from a boot CD I needed to pay?

Honey saved me $33.80

Honey browser plugin saved me $33.6 AUD

I am happy to pay $50.33 for Acronis True Image 2020.

After I purchased Acronis True Image 2020 I was presented with links to download the related files to use the software and to restore.

Download options after I purchased

I downloaded the main Windows Acronis True Image Application for Windows and the Universal Restore program.

The files were about 900MB in total.

I had to download 900MB

While the downloads were downloading I created an Acronis account 

I added my purchased licence to my Account.

I created an account at acronis dot com

I was shown a welcome to Acronis page after creating an account.

Welcome to Acronis page

The downloads finished and I started the AcronisTrueImage2020.exe setup file

Acronis Setup

I clicked Install

Installing Acronis

After the setup completed I was directed to a Quick Start Guide

Quick Start Guide after setup

Starting Acronis True Image 2020

When I loaded Acronis True Image 2020 for the fits time I had to agree to the Licence Agreement

Licence Agreement

A pasted in my just purchased Licence key

Start a trial or activate with a serial number

I already had an account (created minutes earlier in a web browser)  so I clicked Sign In.

Create an account or sign in

Sign In Screen

Sign In Screen

I was presented with a help wizard on startup.

Wizard Help

Now I am ready to create my first backup.

Creating a Backup

Acronis True Image 2020 wanted me to back up all of my PC but it is 8TB, I don’t have an 8TB drive handy to back up to. For the life of Me I could not see how much 8TB would cost per month to backup.

By default Acronis wants to backup your whole PC

I clicked on my computer name (“ZENIGMA”) and selected “Disks and partitions

I un-ticked all system drives and partitions that were not my C Drive disk. I have installed Windows 10 onto a Corsair MP600 M.2 PCIE 1TB SSD and I want to back it up. The M.2 SSD connects to my main board.

Corsair MP600 SSD, Credit Corsair.

I selected this drive to backup.

View of all disks and partitions, I ticked the MP600 drive.

Oh dang, I don’t have enough space free on any drive to backup the C Drive to., Time to move some files.

Backup Destination

I have 8 partitions (drive letters) on 5 SATA hard rives and 2 M.2 SSD’s. I think I can move some data and free some space for this backup.

I had to shuffle data across drives to create enough space to backup my c drive

File Musical Chair’s

I used WinDirStat from https://windirstat.net/ to scan my U drive (my newest hard drive) for files to move.

I used WInDIRStat to find files I can move

WinDirStat shows a nice graph of files on my U Drive. WinDirStat colour codes file types by colour and also sizes squared by actual file size.

Windirstats scan results, Loads o Music I can ,move.

I could see 240GB of music that could be moved. My wife and I have converted all CD’s that we have purchased since the 1990’s to live alongside out Apple iTunes collection.

250GB of Music needs moving

I used the Windows feature to right click on the Music folder and move it  the folder to another drive.

Move the Music folder in Windows

Windows confirmed hat I wanted to move this folder.

Move Confirm Dialog

It took 2 hours to move my Music folder to a smaller slower drive.

btw Pink Floyd are Awesome

Now that I have 800GB free I can backup up my C:\ Disk

I re opened Acronis True image and resumed from Backup point where I left off and made sure I was backing up my C Drive (Corsair MP600 SSD)

My C drive is  500gb and the destination has 888GB free

Acronis showed the Windows drive to web backed up.

I clicked “Select destination“.

Backup Dialog

I clicked “Browse

Backup Destination

I selected “U:\AcronisBackup” as the target to backup C drive to

Choose a backup destination folder

I was prompted for a encryption password (nice)

Enter an Backup Encryption Password

Now the backup is ready to start.

Backup Now

I clicked Back up now

Backup in Progress

The Backup was going to take about 40 minutes.   I could see My C and U drive were busy in Task Manager

Backup in Progress

After the backup is complete Acronis verifies the Backup

Verify Backup Image

After the backup finished I could see that Acronis managed to backup C drive (570GB) to a 329GB file on a different drive

Backup complete

Now I need to restore the backup to confirm it works.

Only a working backup is of value.

Creating Rescue (Recovery) DVD Media?

Now that I have a backup of Windows I need to create a boot media that will allow me to restore the backup image in case Windows dies. 

I clicked in the 4th icon from the top in Acronis True Image 2020 then Rescue Media Builder

Rescue Media Builder

I clicked Simple

Simple or Advanced

First I created a DVD boot disc.

I selected my DVD Dive (it had a blank DVD in it)

The Rescue Media needs a 800MB CD or DVD.

Ready to burn the DVD

I clicked Proceed to burn the rescue media to the blank DVD

DVD Burning.

The Rescue Media DVD was burnt to a blank DVD, a few tips on using the Media were presented

Rescue Media complete, 3 steps to use.

I labelled the DVD Rescue Media and put it in a safe place.

Creating Rescue (Recovery) USB Media?

Now I will create a USB rescue Media Key.

I opened Acronis, Click the Tools Icon (same as the DVD method above), then Rescue Media Builder, click Simple and select your Empty USB key.

TIP: Make sure it is the correct Key as they key will be deleted first.

USB Key Selected

As with the DVD method above the Rescue Media files to be copied were about 800MB.

Write to USB Key.

When the UBS key is prepared you will receive the same success screen as the DVD method above.

Restoring a backup from the DVD Rescue Media

I inserted the Rescue DVD into my DVD drive, I rebooted my PC and pressed F2 to enter my BIOS (your key may be different).

I navigated to the section in my BIOS where I could choose my Boot device and made the DVD drive boot first, this will allow my Rescue DVD to boot before Windows.

BIOS Screen DVD Boos before C drive

I rebooted my PC and I pressed a key when prompted to boot from the Rescue DVD

The DVD buzzed away for a minute and then I was prompted with Back Up or Recover menu. I clicked U:\Blog\Acronis True Image\DVD Restore.

Back Up or Recover screenshot

I navigated to the U Drive (SFEARABY) Drive and selected the Backup I had taken earlier.

FYI: The Drive letters did not match in Windows and the Rescue Media. Take note of tour drive names. My U:\ Was listed as E:\.

I entered the password that I used to encrypt the backup.

I selected the backup of my C Drive to restore. I assume you can choose multiple, drives if you had backed up multiple drives.

I selected Recover whole disk and partitions.

Recover whole disk or single partition.

I was asked to select the date to backup from (I assume this is for when you have multiple backup events over many days).

I was again asked to select partitions to recover. 

Select Partitions.

A summary of the restore was presented and I clicked Proceed.

The Recovery was underway, It took about 8 minutes to restore over 500GB.

Recovery in progress.

It worked.

Recovery worked.

I restarted my PC and removed the Rescue DVD.

Windows was all restored to it’s earlier state.

Restoring a backup from the USB Rescue Media

Restoring is exactly the same as the DVD method.

  • Reboot and Enter your BIOS
  • Set the Boos Order to allow the USB key to boot first
  • Reboot (no need to press a key to boot from USB)
  • Backup and restore (as needed)

I was able to restore the backup no problems,

FYI: I had the same slowness in the UI in the same spots as the DVD, nothing that breaks the process.

The USB and DVD Recovery offers a backup and restore options.

USB Recovery

The Recovery media also allows you to clone a disk and setup a secure hidden partition for backups.

Other OPtions

Backup Protection

Acronis True Image 2020 also protects backup locations and prevents access to them.  I had to Allow Windows to be able to delete a backup.

Once I allowed Windows to be able to access the backup I was able to delete it.

Acronis allowing windows to manage backups files on Windows

Backup Schedules

Acronis True Image 2020 allows you to set Backup Schedules.

Backup Schedules

I do not have enough disk space to setup anything other than one full backup at  a time 

Single file backup

Backblaze

I still have Backblaze automatically backing up my files from within windows and this is my 2nd later of defence.

Backblaze will backup the 300+ GB backup.

300GB backup file/

Other Features

Active Protection

Acronis True Image 2020 has built in Active Protection to watch processes for ransomware or cryptographic. Read more here: https://www.acronis.com/en-au/active-protection/

I have had one false positive upgrading Java but ill leave it enabled.

Active e protection status screen

A nice log is available of all events and whitelisted apps.

Active protection log/

I have had to exclude apps but this has settles down.

Whitelist app

A notification appears on blocked or whitelisted events 🙂

possible ransomware detected.

I can simply block or allow to deal with each exception.

possible rancomware history

Thus is a nice feature.

Cloud Backup

I am now using any Cloud backup features in Acronis, ill let Back blaze handle that.

Archive large or old files

The Archive large files or old files is a bit basic for me to use.

Archive old or large files screen.

I will keep using CCCleaner and WinDirStats for this job.

Alternative disk clean up tools

Even the Windows default Disk Cleanup is good.

Windows disk cleanup

Cloud Sync

I do not use Cloud Sync, I would but I can’t find a price on the Acronis site at all.

I noticed that on the DVD and USB recovery boot I can restore a windows from a Acronis cloud backup (nice).

Other Tools

  • Clone disk (like EASE US?)
  • Universal restore?
  • Try and Decide
  • System Clean Up (backup First)
  • Acronis Secure Zone
  • Drive Cleanser
  • Third Party Tools

Acronis True Image (Conclusion)

I am being picky here as I loved using Acronis 10 years ago and I have rose coloured glasses.

Pros

  • It works
  • You can backup Windows while Windows is open
  • DVD and USB Rescue Media creation is easy
  • Backup Schedules
  • Notifications of disk space and operational state
  • Exclusions of non essential files
  • Backup Validation (at time of creation and schedule)
  • Ability to call pre and post backup commands
  • Choice of Incremental, Full or differential backups schemes
  • Cleanup of older incremental versions (and full version frequency)
  • Simple single version backup (single file, overwrites each time)
  • It works.

Cons

  • Some Buttons in the GUI are slow to respond
  • The DVD an USB Rescue Media is little unresponsive at times during the restore (but it works)
  • The DVD and USB Rescue Media GUI can use a bit of design love (I am sure it was better 10 years ago (basic and clean))
  • When I restored I had no Idea what C:\ Drive was listed as H:\ (loads of confusion on the internet)

Disclaimer

I am not paid by Acronis to say this, this is just my guide for my friends.  I paid with my own cash.  I take no responsibility if this does not work for you.  Good luck though.

Troubleshooting

DVD Rescue Media

The DVD/USB Rescue Media is a bit laggy. At one point in the recovery I has a white screen for over a minute. I waited and the screen came good

 

Laggy Screen

Also the Menu in the DVD/USB toolbar does seem a bit squashed.

Squashed Screen

Bonus: Windows System Restore

There may be a time when you have created a full Operating system backup but the restore does not work (e.g hardware has failed (and been changed)). Acronis True Image 2020 will allow you to restore files from a backup image (and not the whole partition or disk). 

Create System Restore

Make sure System Protection is enabled for your C Drive

System Protection On C Drive

Create a System Restore Image

If you have Windows 10 it is a good idea to create a System Restore point ever few months just in-case Windows goes bad.

Click Your Start Button then type “Create a restore point

Windows 10 has a System Restore feature

Click your C Drive and click “Create

Create restore point

The restore point will be created

Creating restore point.

Restoring a restore point

At any time you feel that Windows is sick (and still working) you can restore and old system restore.

Restore a restore point screenshot

Click the the desired restore point then click Next

All restore points list

You will be able to restore the old system snapshot.

Bonus: Clean Windows 10 Install

TBA: Blog post coming soon

Bonus: How I prepare all files needed for a clean install

Before you do a clean install of Windows 10 you may need to document what software you have installed so you have a change to reinstall them after you reinstall Windows.

This is possibly the most boring job but the one with the most reward. The hardest party is knowing what software you have an need.

Finding Installed Software with SUMo

I use a free program called SUMo from KC Software (not a plug) to list all installed programs and to see what software is out of date.

SUMo App Screenshot

SUMo informed me that I have 256 software products installed.

  • 7 were really out of date
  • 62 products had recent updates

I took this list and downloaded and installed new copies of the apps I had installed (as newer version’s of apps can be more secure) and I also saved the installer files to a folder away from C Drive (e.g B:\Installs).

I am a bit OSD and I have created 10 folders under the B:\Installs folder that contain installs from Essential Drivers to non essential apps that I can use in the event of a clean install of Windows 

In the Installs folder I have these sub folders

\100 Drivers\
\200 Essential Apps\
\300 Productivity Apps\
\400 Development Apps\
\500 Utils\
\600 Games\
\700 Virtual Machine OS Installs\
\800 Virtual Machine Apps\
\900 Learning\

When reinstalling Windows I start by installing all apps in each group (starting with “100 Drivers”), The larger the parent folders’ number is the less important the files are int hat folder.

I have a Legend.txt with a summary of the contents of each folder

Install Folders Legend

100+ ~ 199 Drivers
     - Mainboard ASUS RUF X570 (WIFI)
     - AMD Chipset Drivers
     - Nvidia Video Card
     - Etc
201+ ~ 299 Essential Apps
     - Printer Drives
     - 1Pasword
     - Antivrus
     - Backblaze
     - VPN
     - Acronis
     - Etc
300+ ~ 399  Productivity Apps
     - Microsoft Office 
     - Microsoft Visio
     - Etc
400+ ~ 499  Development Apps
     - Visual Studio
     - Arduino IDE
     - Fritrzing
     - Microsoft SQL Developer
     - MySQL
     - Python
     - PHP Storm
     - Etc
500+ ~ 599 Utils
     - CPU-Z
     - Core Temp
     - Acrbat Reader
     - Etc
600+ ~ 699 Games
     - Steam Installer
     - Origin Installer
     - Etc
700+ ~ 799 Virtual Machine OS Installs
     - Windows 3.11
     - Windows 95
	 - Etc
800+ ~ 899 Virtual Machine Apps
     - Office 95
     - Office XP
     - Etc
900+ ~ 909 Learning
     - Python Books
     - Etc

You can create whatever numbering scheme you want.

I also have a cached folder of my Development Software (Visual Studio) Install cache at “B:\Installs\vscache

All of my install folders.

Under my drivers folder I have all the drivers I need to reinstall windows

All the drivers for my system.

An under my “500 Utils” folder is all the utilities I install (many).

Hundreds of sub folders with utilities in them

The main thing is I have all the files and installers needed to do a clean setup of Windows 10 if need be.

Links

 

 

v1.0 Initial

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