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I've been using Acronis True Image 2015 for backing up my Windows 7 home laptops. Here's what I like about it:

  • I can encrypt my data using AES with a 256-bit key. This is extremely important for offsite backups, and especially for cloud backups (which I plan to do once my provider rolls out its gigabit service, thereby making whole-machine cloud backups feasible).
  • I can backup my entire PC and even restore to dissimilar hardware. It's great that if my machine really dies and I have to get a new one that I can restore and get back to where I was. (I haven't actually had to restore to dissimilar hardware, so I'd expect it might take more work than Acronis advertises, but if I get my data back and don't have to build my entire configuration up from scratch, that's a win.)
  • I can restore selected files even from a total-machine backup. It's not just an all-or-nothing image.
  • I can configure Acronis to email me when a task succeeds / fails / stalls. For my particular needs, this is pretty important.
  • I can backup to a network location. This would be a NAS in my house and, eventually, the cloud.
  • I can create a full backup and then a chain of whatever number of incremental backups I want.
  • I can configure Acronis to delete old backup chains. This is nice because I don't have to manage backup storage space myself.
  • I can have Acronis make a copy of my backup. This allows me to have my primary backup be to a local NAS, and then I can have copies made to a second local NAS and to the cloud. The 3-2-1 rule: 3 backups, 2 different media types, 1 offsite.
  • Nonstop backup is great for the very few files I have that change very frequently.

But the problem is … I loathe Acronis because it is so incredibly buggy. I have spent literally hundreds of hours and untold frustration fighting it over the last three or so years.

I want to get rid of Acronis in the worst way. It is unbearable.

What recommendations would the community make regarding backup software that provides the features listed above?

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Personally I use Crash Plan and find it great to use.

  • They say that the storage limit is unlimited (I'm only backing up around 210GB at the moment, so I've not pushed it too far yet)
  • There's the ability to use 448-bit encryption (I'm not sure if I'm doing this so I can't say what it's like)
  • I get e-mails each week to let me know when the last backup was and how much data are backed up
  • There's an app which you can check the status of a backup, and even navigate to and download a specific file
  • You can choose which folders to back up and restore (been there, done that)
  • Allows back up to external drives
  • There's a user interface, and a background task
  • How often it does an incremental backup is configurable, as frequently as a minute
  • If you are in the US and have a lot of data (up to 100GB), you can order a hard drive from them, put the files on there and courier it back for them to add to their infrastructure, and then continue the back up from there

There's a free version and a paid version, so you've got options there depending on the requirements and features you want. The paid version is much cheaper than dropbox, which is why I use it.

EDIT: for your "dissimilar hardware" requirement, I first used it on Windows 8, moved it to a Ubuntu machine, and then moved the whole thing to a complete new machine running Debian; so you're covered there too.

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I suggest that you check out CloudBerry Backup to automate Winodows Computer backup to cloud storage such as Amazon S3 , Azure and Glacier. It comes with the following features:

  • Scheduling and Real-Time Cloud Backup
  • Comes with one time fee and no recurring charges.
  • No proprietary data format and you can access your data using other cloud storage tools.
  • Supports Amazon S3 , Azure, Google Storage and 20+ others
  • Amazon Glacier support
  • Encryption & Compression
  • Local Backup
  • Incremental and Block Level
  • Backup Network Locations Backup

15 day free trial is available http://www.cloudberrylab.com/backup

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For backup on Windows, I have been using CubicleSoft Cloud Backup for the past two years. While its primary purpose is to backup Linux servers, my personal machine runs Windows 10 and the software also runs fine on Macs too. (Try finding legit backup software for Linux servers and there's basically nothing out there - it's a miracle that the web even functions!) I am currently tracking over 200GB of backup storage both locally and in the cloud across all of my infrastructure. I've also restored large data files several times without any issues. Most of what you are looking for can be done with Cloud Backup and whatever you can't do is probably a feature request. It's also free, open source software so you can try it out side-by-side with your existing setup and, if it doesn't work out, then it'll only have cost you a little time.

Unfortunately, the built-in cloud service support is flaky. However, that is only true because every single cloud service out there that I've tried is incredibly flaky. One day the services will function just fine and the next day some of them will not function at all but the day after that they'll be fine again. As the author of Cloud Backup, I'm frustrated with the instability of existing third-party cloud storage providers that should have their act together. My view is that if someone is going to offer online storage, then they should be offering stable online storage. Amazon is the worst of the lot. My recommendation is to avoid Amazon S3 and Glacier, and any storage service sitting on top of those like the plague. I've actually been debating dropping support for Amazon for a while due to the myriad of issues I've encountered.

You said your provider is rolling out gigabit service. Note that even with faster speeds, you still might be monthly data capped to transferring a few hundred GB. Cloud Backup can be configured to limit the amount of data sent per day to avoid hitting ISP data caps.

On Windows, I also use Portable Apps wherever possible. Putting Portable Apps on my data drive allows me to back up entire applications in addition to my data. The number of applications on my machine that use a traditional installer has dwindled significantly for me - mostly just a few select Microsoft products. Using Portable Apps means a restore operation from a backup will also allow me to restore most of my applications to their previous state. As a side bonus, since I don't install very many applications, Windows always runs fast regardless of how many apps I start. Before using Portable Apps, I loathed OS installs/reinstalls as it took a full week to get back to a point of reasonable functionality and another week to restore the usual rhythm. Now I can be up and running same-day.

I'll be honest with you: At this time, the current installer for Cloud Backup needs work to cater to a wider audience. It's on my list of things to do. However, once installed, it works fine.

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