Acronis vs. SyncBack?

I bought Acronis True Image Home (ver. 11) last summer and had been happy with it.
I bought it after finding out (following a laptop crash) that the software included with a Maxtor One Touch external drive did NOT back up the Outlook PST files!!!  Much anguish and gnashing of teeth.  Thinking I had everything backed up, I was extremely disappointed to find out that I had lost 5 months of business e-mail, much of containing attachments that I had not saved outside of Outlook.  (I have changed that practice!!!!)

Thus - the search to find a backup program that would backup my laptop 100% every time in case I was do have another failure.  I bought Acronis, installed it on my laptop, did a full backup immediately.
Then, every 2nd or 3rd day (because the laptop travels in & out of the office with me - to jobsites, to home, out of town, etc. etc.), I have done an incremental backup.
All was fine until a couple weeks ago when I got a message telling me that I was out of room.
I couldn't understand that since the external drive was 250GB while my laptop is only 160GB.
I sent tech support messages to Acronis but have NEVER received a response from them other than to confirm receipt of my message.  (However, they do offer pay-for-support!)
Long & short - I am looking for a software backup program for my laptop that will do 100% of the files in a non-proprietary format so I can recover in case I lose or CRASH my laptop.
I would like some sort of security too.
I would like to be able to back up to an external hard drive (via USB?).

Is SyncBack the solution?  
Or, am I doing something wrong with the Acronis software.?  (Is it me or is it the software?)
Who is Participating?
Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
Acronis vs. Syncback is comparing apples to oranges.

Acronis creates an Image of your hard drive -- and the incremental backups simply add the info to update that image to each of the various days you do it.   For example, if you imaged on Mon, Wed, Fri, you could then restore to the exact state on Mon, Wed, or Fri.

SyncBack lets you synchronize your files -- so if you synchronized on Mon, Wed, and Fri, you could only restore what was there on Friday.

That's why Acronis is filling your external drive -- keeping all the information needed to restore to any given date.   If you periodically (e.g. weekly) did a full backup and deleted all the previous ones, it wouldn't require as much space.

Note that you NEED to use an imager (e.g. Acronis) to create a restorable image of the OS;  but a good synchronization utility (e.g. Syncback) is fine for backing up data.

The approach I use is to segregate the OS and data into different partitions (e.g. C: and D:);  and make periodic images of the OS partition (C:) while doing daily synchronizations of the data partition (D:) with Syncback.   This keeps my data completely backed up -- and also lets me restore an image to C: (in case of a virus; crash; malware; etc.) with NO impact on the data.   Even a hard drive failure is simple to recover from -- just restore the OS image; boot to the OS; create the 2nd partition; and copy all the data from the backup.
iPromoExpertConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I am not familiar with Acronis directly, but from my experience most backup software applications have an option to replace media on backup disk. So everytime you do a full backup, it should replace the previous one with the new one. Same goes for the incremental ones. My backup scheme (on server 2k3) is Fri - Full (replace previous data) Mon thru Thu - Incremental (replace previous data)

Hope this helps
Acronis can do Image based, and file based (traditional) backups, but it does not do synchronization of files. garycase is right in that I think you have misunderstood the different methods of backup. Generally, Acronis does not support a backup schedule (that is, automatically keep x days of incrementals, then create new full and delete old). You may be able to use the command options for scheduled tasks to create something like that, but it will require scripting or such.

Alternatively, you can manually check every so often to do a new full backup and delete the old incrementals.
TimLaLAuthor Commented:
OK, how about this -
In the old days (previous computers) I used Partition Magic to partition my hard drive into a C: (programs) and D: (data).
This laptop (Toshiba Tecra A9-ST9002), came with the C: drive for programs, etc. while D: was set up for the recovery partition.
After last Spring's "crash", I used the Toshiba recovery CD to fall back to the factory state.
D: is not longer visible (although total HDD space is lower - as a result of the recovery partition????).

At this point, to move all the data to a new partition?  Easiest way?  
TimLaLAuthor Commented:
One other question, I guess,
If I used Acronis to create the image (OS) and SyncBack to backup the data,
could both be on the same external drive?

The way it looks right now:
Laptop hard drive C:   110GB

External HDD: 232GB
used:  103GB
Free:  129 GB
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A few thoughts ... more details as you need/request them ...

First, Yes you can keep both the image and the data backed up to the same external drive.   In fact, if there's room, you can keep the OS image on the data partition of the hard drive so if you ever have any problems it's a simple 10-min restore to resolve any OS issues.

As for the overall structure ...

Your hard drive probably looks something like this:
where the C's are the C drive; the R's are the recovery info => although 110GB is VERY small for a 160GB hard drive.   Are you SURE it was restored correctly?   Post a screenshot of how the drive is shown in Disk Management.   50GB is a LOT to loose to a recovery partition.   I'm wondering if the laptop may have a host protected area on the drive -- this can cause a big loss of storage if restored incorrectly.

To restructure it, I'd first copy all of the data to another location (your external drive);  then delete the data from C:;  then ReSize C: to a reasonable size (for XP ~ 30GB would be good) ... at this point the disk would look like this:
CCCCCCCCCCxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxRRRRRRRRRRRR  where the x's are free space.

You could then create another partition in the free space (say D:) ... and it would look like this:

... and then copy all of the data back to D:

Note that if you don't need the recovery partition, you can also delete it and then ReSize D: to use all of that space ... so the disk would look like this:

With that structure, you could image C: to a file on D: whenever you wanted (no need to do this more than perhaps monthly) ... and could backup D: to your external drive daily (with the image stored on D: this would also ensure you have a current copy of the image all the time).   Syncback would work very well for the backup ... you could still use Acronis to update the image as needed.   The key is to be sure you relocate My Documents to D: and also set any programs that don't store their data in My Documents to use a folder on D: for their data storage.

TimLaLAuthor Commented:
Now you have given me an awfully lot to consider.
How best/ easiest to post a screen shot?  (actually, it shows C; as 140 GB with 110GB used.)
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Go to Disk Management [Right-click on My Computer; select Manage; click on Disk Management];  then -- with the disk showing in the window -- press Alt-PrtScrn;  then open Paint and do an Edit-Paste to paste the image;  save it as a JPEG (File-SaveAs); and then attach the JPEG file here.
garycase, don't forget that drives are speced as 160GB measureed as 1GB = 1,000 MB ... but Windows is going to display 1,000MB as 0.98 GB, as it's measuring 1GB as 1024MB. Windows should show 160GB as listed by drive manufacturers as roughly 152.59GB, and formatting plus the recovery partition would likely get you down to 140GB available . . .
TimLaLAuthor Commented:
I had to leave the office last PM, so haven't had a chance to do anything else.
More this AM.
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