Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Reports from CES 2011, looking for things that might matter for real people, not just technology buffs.

The first day of the Consumer Electronics Show is always a frenetic one. Finding out where everything is, determining that it really is a long walk from the hotel to the convention center (or the monorail stop), and just getting oriented to life in sin city in general takes some time and energy.

Getting up at 4:45 AM to get here didn't help.

I have, however, been able to find a couple of potentially interesting products. I'll be reviewing them in more detail when I get home, but in the mean time, I'd like to know what your experience has been with them.

Paragon Backup and Recovery

It's no secret that I'm looking for a replacement for Acronis TrueImage. Acronis continues to serve me well, but I can't recommend it as enthusiastically as I once did due to the feedback I've received from folks who've occasionally run into trouble. Most annoying are the reports of issues with Acronis customer support.

I met today with representatives of Paragon and it's possible that their product meets all my criteria: automated full and incremental backups, and individual file as well as bare-metal restore.

And, of course, they're claiming excellent customer service.

Not that they'd say anything else, and the person I was talking to was indeed a support engineer.

So, let's hear from you: if you've used a Paragon product - any product, not just backup - what's your experience been? Just leave a comment below.

Roboform 7

I'm a much more enthusiastic supporter of Roboform. I use it daily - perhaps hourly.

I honestly thought that Roboform 7 had been officially launched, since I upgraded a couple of weeks ago, but apparently it was a quiet "soft" launch. CES marks the beginning of a more aggressive promotion.

The big difference with Roboform 7 is the push to something called "Roboform Everywhere". For a fairly low annual subscription, you can place Roboform on as many devices as you like, and they all sync to your password store kept on Roboform's servers in "the cloud" (I dislike the term, but it's as accurate as any).

I've got a couple of outstanding questions after talking to the rep, but remain convinced that Roboform's a great solution to the problem of needing secure passwords that are hard to remember: let Roboform remember them for you.

I'm now using Roboform Everywhere on a couple of PCs as well as on my Android based phone. They told me that a version for the Mac is (finally) underway and in alpha testing right now.

Trend Micro

I was honest with the product manager: I disrecommend most security suites because they're typically the result of a good single product - usually an anti-virus or anti-spyware product - with second-rate add-on products (anti-spyware, anti-virus, firewall, gosh knows what else) that are either slow, of low quality, buggy or all three. It seems to be fairly common that those additions are there simply to allow boxes to be checked so that the product can be called a "security suite".

Trend Micro's Titanium has been rewritten from the ground up, I've been told; all the components. That's promising.

They also include a (fairly pricey, in my opinion) cloud (there's that word again) based backup, but for unlimited data - perhaps justifying the price. The selling point there is significantly better access to your backed up data from multiple devices. In a sense it's almost a beefed up version of DropBox, in reverse. Dropbox is a cross-machine synchronization tool that many people use for cloud-based backup - Trend Micro's product promises to be a cloud based backup tool that acts as a really good cross-machine and platform data access tool.

We'll see.

As always, I'm curious what your experiences with these tools or their predecessors has been, and in all cases what your experience with the company's customer support has been.

I'm finding that the later can be a deal breaker when disaster happens.

Article C4703 - January 6, 2011 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 7, 2011 2:39 PM


You mentioned Acronis TrueImage and their customer service so I will throw in my two cents.

I have my data on a separate hard drive than my programs. I used to use Norton Ghost to back up that partition. When I swapped to a larger hard drive, Ghost refused to work. (It was an old version of Ghost, so old I had to download a patch to work with SATA hard drives.)

Based on your recommendation, I swapped to TrueImage. One thing I really liked when I upgraded was that Ghost had to boot into DOS to work so I could not do anything during a backup while TrueImage allowed me to continue working.

That does make me worry about TrueImage being able to back up absolutely everything with Windows running but since I mostly back up data, I was not too worried about TrueImage being locked out of a file.

Two issues arose that convinced me that the Acronis support left a lot to be desired. The first was due to a mistake on my part, I needed to reinstall TrueImage. I had the activation number they gave me when I registered but they had upgraded their website to a newer version and I could not find the old file to download. (Lesson learned, do not depend on the cloud for files.) Anyway, I had to exchange more than dozen emails to get a link to the file and I had the feeling the people I was corresponding with did not speak native English. I finally got the file, it just took longer than it should.

The second arose when I needed to restore a single file. My backup requires two DVD’s. In restoring the single file, I had to swap DVD’s more than a dozen times! I ask support if there was anything I could do to reduce the disc swapping needed to restore a file. Their only suggestion was not to back up to DVD’s!


January 9, 2011 8:54 AM

if you have a chance Leo give a try to Macrium Reflect as a replacement for Acronis,i have only good things to say about it.Bye.

Iain Smith
January 11, 2011 9:11 AM

I used Acronis True Image a couple of years back to dump my daughter's laptop onto, then found I could not reload the image. I did not get much support at the time. The use of DVDs was a nightmare. I spent c. 8 hours and wasted all of them. REMEMBER: you may think a backup system is cool but you won't know if its any good until you try to reload the image. And how many people ever have to do that?! (very risky!) I now use an online backup service, which I have tested and it works great. (Just backs up files, not images, though.)

Marvin Fretwell
January 11, 2011 9:41 AM

I will no longer use any Acronis products. I had an issue with TrueImage (not as advertised), and tried to get them to honor their 30 day refund policy (as advertised at least). When I gave up on getting a resolution of my problem and asked for a refund they quit answering my emails. I never got any satisfaction from them. So they lost this customer -- permanently.

January 11, 2011 12:15 PM

I was a firm believer in Acronis TruImage until the 2010 release. I upgraded, made an image and when I attempted to restore my "C" partition, my entire hard disk was trashed. (old version restored disk). Tech support (after many many emails) said " Yes, that is a known problem and we are workiing to fix it". I quit using Acronis on all my computers.

I am evaluating Paragon Backup & Recovery™ 2010 Free Advanced and Macrium Reflect free edition. On a XP machine (7.1 Gb used), Paragon makes a 3.4 Gb image in 7 min 38 sec. Macrum makes a 3.4 Gb image in 4 min 01 sec. Both packages can create "recovery" CD/Flash (linux based). Paragon has the ability to make an image when running from the recovery CD. Macrum does restore only. I do not know about customer service for either company.

I used Macrium Reflect on a new Windows 7 machine that had hardware problems (flakey RAM and a Flakey motherboard). Saved a ton of time and worked flawlessly. Haven't tried Paragon yet.

from Tokyo
January 12, 2011 3:33 AM

I recently (two weeks ago) had to make changes to a hard disk with three partitions. I had to move some partitions and re-size one. That job was done in less than five minutes using free software from MiniTool called Partition Wizard. Have used that disk ever since on a daily basis and have not found a single problem. You may want to investigate this tool before buying something.

Christopher Pond
January 17, 2011 4:44 AM

Roboform everywhere has huge problems
It will not actually sync my data which I can see in one page on my Droid phone with the page I want to log into.
I am waiting for Roboform to get back to me however it saddens me as a long time user of their products.
previously I had the mobile version on my old windows mobile and that worked perfectly but with the droid it does not do what it says on the label!

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