Acronis built a solid reputation with IT departments with their excellent True Image application, a perfect tool for cloning PC installations quickly and efficiently.
They’ve now branched out into the Cloud space with a branded online storage system that works with their software across a wide range of different platforms.
What’s important to realise from the outset is that to use Acronis Cloud Storage you need to be already using Acronis Backup 12.5.
That’s a remarkably powerful piece of software that can secure entire systems, virtual, cloud and mobile platforms. And, it can bare-metal restore them should the very worst happen.
Once you’ve got that running, Acronis can sell you their cloud storage solution, formerly known as Acronis Backup to Cloud.
What buying this service allows you to do is blend Acronis Backup 12.5 into a hybrid cloud backup solution, enabling all the user data and entire systems to be secured off-site for an optimal disaster recovery scenario.
The objective of this solution is to create yet another layer of protection against data loss, by having Backup 12.5 not only copy valuable data locally but also to the cloud, in a belt-and-braces fashion.
So how does Acronis Cloud Storage differ from using S3 or Dropbox?
Part of the answer is that this is a service that Acronis designed to work with their products, so it’s a tailored solution where the cloud data is managed in one of their 14+ ultra-secure and SSAE-16 compliant data centres.
The Acronis Cloud solution isn’t inherently a Dropbox-like offering, where you send specific files and folders to the cloud for distribution elsewhere. It’s more focused around data security and keeping critical documents and systems safe.
If you want something flexible for keeping file backups and sharing documents with co-workers and customers, then this probably isn’t appropriate or cost effective.
In one sense there is no interface to Acronis Cloud, as it’s fully integrated into their existing applications. However, Acronis realised that once people have secured data to the service, they might want to browse what they’ve got in the facility or retrieve specific files.
To this end, they created a web interface where you can monitor what you’ve secured, how much space it occupies on the cloud.
Using the recommended client application, Acronis Backup 12.5, you can secure a workstation entirely, including the OS. Although given the amount of disk space machines have these days you might eat through the cloud storage very rapidly if you chose to do that.
An important detail is that Acronis Backup currently supports backup to Microsoft Azure Storage through their network shares, and Acronis have repeatedly promised to extend this to Amazon S3, so when that happens Acronis Cloud Storage might well become a redundant option for S3 customers.
Given the misbalance in resources between Acronis and the other big cloud players, the elegance of their cloud storage solution might not be enough to justify its continued existence.
Other cloud services have been widely criticised for encrypting contents, but failing to encrypt the metadata that is spun off when the files hit the cloud server.
Acronis even encrypt their metadata, and they make much of how physically secure their data centres are with biometric entry systems and 24/7 security personnel onsite.
For those curious as to where their data will live on the Acronis site, they have a web page where you can find out in your country where they’ll locate your data. Most big developed countries have a dedicated data centre, as do some geographically isolated places like Australia.
Those in South America and Canada might find their data lives in the USA, and those in Africa rely on a German facility.
While relevant to some, we’d contest that the majority of businesses don’t care where their data is currently residing geographically and many will be happy if it fulfills the ‘off-site’ criteria of their disaster recovery plan.
To utilise Acronis Cloud Storage, you’ll first need Acronis Backup Advanced that costs $85 (£65) per workstation, $710 (£539) per server, $842 (£639) per virtual hosts, all per year.
The Cloud Storage solution starts at $236 (£179) per year for a rather paltry 250GB of space, and that cost balloons to $3,465 (£2,629) per year for the maximum available capacity of 5TB.
There are cost reductions for taking three-year contracts over annual ones. Irrespective of these discounts, as a cloud storage solutions go, this it isn’t cheap.
It’s also quite confusing for the average customer because Acronis also offers products for securing Office 365, a Data Cloud, a Disaster Recovery Cloud, a Files Cloud and a Notary Cloud. These appear to be different solutions, allegedly, but with obvious overlaps.
As an individual user, you can also buy Acronis True Image 2019, and that comes with a simple cloud backup for its Advanced and Premium editions, with 250GB and 1TB of space respectively.
How a prospective customer identifies which service is the one they want is beyond us and without that clarity it is difficult to establish if Acronis Cloud Storage is worth the high cost of access or not.
If you already use Acronis products, then this option might be useful, but this cloud storage solution isn’t flexible enough for many users.
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