When it comes to backups, there are two brutal truths: 1/ most people don’t care about them until something the loss of invaluable data has occurred. 2/ when people realize that backups are important, the learning curve is still steep.
The business world has solved this by hiring IT managers who oversee a centralized backup system (hardware+software). However, it is much less common for small businesses, families and smaller groups in general.
In this tutorial, we will show you how to use Acronis True Image Cloud to backup PCs and Mobile Devices for a small group of people, in order to protect their data in a secure and automated way, since automation is a critical principle of any backup system.
This tool allows you to become the “tech person” in charge of backups, without the hassle of managing storage hardware. All it takes is installing Acronis on each device, then setting it to automatically backup data. A dashboard view of the data shows if everything works as you had planned.
Step 1 – Back-up All PCs
Saving a full image of your disk to the Acronis Cloud will protect you from cases where a local backup is no longer available. Theft, loss, burglary, fire, flooding are typical instances where both your computer and home backups are gone for good. At Ubergizmo, it happened that someone got their laptop stolen, and a couple of days worth of photos/videos was lost forever.
Creating a cloud backup is just as easy as creating a local one. You just need to select the Acronis Cloud as a destination.
The only caveat is the duration of the initial backup. For example, on a (100 download / 10 upload) it took me about 17 hours to backup a 72GB disk. Subsequent backups were faster because only the changes were added to the initial backups (it’s called “incremental backups”). Many people can do the initial backup overnight or over the weekend.
Here are the steps, you can find the full details in our previous Acronis backup article:
- Install Acronis True Image (download location)
- Build a rescue media drive
- Perform a full-disk backup
- Launch Acronis True Image.
- Click on the Backup icon at the top left (multiple squares) and if necessary, click on the ‘+’ button lower on the page to add a new backup
- The default option is to backup the “Entire PC”, so leave it as is. That’s what you want
- Select the destination: Acronis Cloud
- Click “Back up now” to start the backup, it will take 15-30mn
- The backup is done!
If you want to make this a regular occurrence, you can open the backup options at any time and change the schedule.
It is important to have an running automatically on a regular basis. How often depends on how often you update your data, but it’s clear that “any backup” is infinitely better than “no backup”. It is very easy to set-up regular backups, I would recommend a daily or weekly schedule.
The steps are exactly the same as previously shown, except that you need to choose a local destination, like a USB drive, a secondary drive or even a network location.
The main difference is the time it takes to perform the backup. Because local drives or network are much faster than the public Internet, local backups can be done in a matter of minutes, often less than one hour. Local backups are convenient and fast to access.
Cloud backups are slower, but provide a remote access and protect you against huge disasters like fire, theft or flooding. Acronis uses an incremental cloud backup system that only captures the latest changes. The first backup can take hours (or days) to perform in the background, but subsequent will be much faster. Cloud backups are themselves managed by Acronis which takes its own disaster-mitigation measures.
Step 2 – Backup All Mobile Devices
Creating a backup on the Acronis Cloud just involves installing the app, log into your account, and a quick setup. We have explained how to backup iPhones with Acronis True Image Cloud, and the process is the same for Android. You can add multiple device to protect family members’ data, even if they would never think about doing to themselves.
It should be noted that because both Android and iOS limit the applications access, the Acronis True Image app can only backup the most common mobile data, instead of a full device image.
In practice, this is the data that most people really care about (photos in particular) since many other types of data (such as email) are stored on a separate cloud server and not on the device itself.
Step 3 – Monitor Backups with the Acronis Cloud dashboard
Check if backups have been made
Once you have set up the backups for every person in your group, you can keep an eye on the backup process, to make sure that everything works as planned. There is nothing worse than believing that backups are happening when they are not.
The Acronis Cloud dashboard (cloud.acronis.com) will give you that information quickly. It takes a few seconds to see when the latest backup has been performed, and when the next one is supposed to happen.
If a computer is online, you can even trigger an immediate backup remotely by clicking the “BACK UP NOW” button on the dashboard. It will execute the pre-configured backup program you already have.
Step 4 – Restore Data
There are two main situations in which you need to access the backups.
- You may have lost/damaged one or several files due to human error or software failure.
- Your computer may be corrupted to the point that it no longer boots/works. A full disk restoration would be your best option.
Restore specific files
Although Acronis saves a full disk image, it does let you browse around and select files for download. You can even use this feature to simply access files you forgot at home. I do this often with backup systems because I don’t want to leave network ports open at home.
- Go to cloud.acronis.com, or click Recover Files from within the app.
- On the left, click on Archives (you may be asked to log-in again)
- Click on “Cloud backup”
- Choose a backup set to browse data from
- Choose one or several files/directories and click “Download”
Restore the full disk
If you want to restore the whole disk, and assuming that your system no longer works and that all repair attempts have failed, you first need to boot using an Acronis recovery media (official page).
You can follow our previous instructions to build an Acronis bootable media. If your computer Operating System is out of commission, you can always download Acronis (full or trial) onto a friend’s computer to create this bootable media. It’s best to create one and store it away when you first install Acronis.
After booting with the Acronis rescue media, you can navigate backups, either on the Acronis Cloud (login required) or on a local USB drive or network. The process is the same except that the backup file comes from a different location.
Restoring over the cloud will take a long time (expect several hours, even with a fast broadband connection), but it gets the job done. When no other option is available, this could truly save the day, especially if you are traveling and need to get some work done.
Follow the following steps
- Boot with the Rescue Media and select Recovery, then Browse for Backup
- Choose My Computer>Acronis Cloud then log-in
- Pick your backup (mine is called “Cloud backup”)
- Right-click on an available backup file and choose Recover in the pop-up menu
- Pick a date (green) & time at which a backup was done. Usually you want the latest. Click Next
- To restore the full drive, click on the upper-left checkbox to select the whole disk. Everything listed should be checked. The small partitions are system-related and it’s best to restore them all.
- Upon clicking on Next, the recovery wizard will warn you that it needs to delete data on your current destination drive. Make sure that the destination drive is the one that needs to be restored. Press OK.
- There’s a final screen, and I’m not sure what “number of operations:0” means, but click Proceed.
- Acronis will start restoring the drive and you can follow the whole process, file by file. Over the cloud, this will take several hours.
- Success! You can now reboot and the drive has been restored to its previous state
Note: Acronis lets you restore to a completely different hardware. This is very useful if you computer has been destroyed, or stolen. By Default Windows is pretty horrible with restoring on new hardware, but Acronis does support it.
Here are the 10 steps below:
We have shown you how to set up a cloud-based automated backup system for the whole family/group using Acronis True Image Cloud. After a one-time setup per device, you can make sure that backups are being done for every device.
You will also have access to data, in case someone in the group needs a file urgently. Sometime we also use these backup systems to retrieve files we forgot home, although this is not the original intent.
Privacy: keep in mind that the administrator (you) will have access to all backed-up files on the devices. We suggest that you make this clear to everyone who has devices managed by you.
You have stepped-up to keep everyone’s data safe: congratulations!