Sunday, April 4, 2010

How bad can it get...?

Well... pretty bad I must say.

The backups on my new Windows 7 machine fail about every 2nd or 3rd try. It refuses to make a backup to a local hard drive (moderately unreasonable, in my opinion: I should be able to put my backup data where I want to and then copy it off elsewhere, although something off the computer you're trying to backup is definitely the best solution), so I use a networked hard drive across my Gigabyte network. No other software has problems using this drive (a Western Digital WorldBook, a very nice little NAS (network attached storage) device with Gigabyte transfer rates and a Terabyte of storage at a nice price), but Win7 backup sure does. At midnight, it complains of a network error and shuts down the backup.

So I figured I'd have to try another backup program. I've used Acronis in the past, didn't particularly like it in Version 8, but there were several reviews that discussed it favorably and one that described how mightily it had improved.

So I figured I'd give it a whirl with a trial version... bad decision. It doesn't work and support isn't available

First off, it's a monster install: about 250Meg download and almost 500Meg to install - what in the heck are they doing with all that code?

Secondly, the company makes you jump through all kinds of hoops to get the download itself, what with filling out forms, getting a validation email, then more data, and finally the download.  In the process, they give you a trial serial number which I duly copied and installed in the trial software. The one tricky part -- which will be a killer for many users -- is that they require a modification to your firewall software to let port 9876 through... this may be the problem, even though I modified Norton Firewall service in what I thought was the required fashion. But making users edit firewall rules is pretty arcane stuff and Definitely Not Recommended.

Thirdly, I setup a download following their instructions: to their credit, there are lots of options. To their discredit, the backup completely failed to run.

Finally, I went to their website and was completely unable to get support. Why is that, you ask?  Well... they require that you register your product to receive support, but the registration page refuses to accept the trial registration key that they gave me. So: no registration, no support.

I'm guessing that it has to do with the firewall rules, but since Acronis doesn't provide an option to test the basic features and make sure that everything works as expected, there's no real way to tell this short of hauling out Wireshark or other network tools and I sure don't have the time to do that.

What a waste of time...

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