Acronis Cyber Protect begins at $59.00 per year and improves on the already formidable business-grade cloud backup and storage features in its more basic Acronis Cyber Backup product by doubling down on additional security and device management features. This makes Acronis Cyber Protect an entirely new offering that seems well designed to handle the current remote work reality. Its three-pronged attack on this scenario focuses on cybersecurity, backup and recovery, and integrated protection management. Overall, while it’s not quite the easiest tool to use of those we tested this time around, it’s definitely one of the best designed and well featured solutions we saw. That earns it a well-deserved Editors’ Choice award.
We like Acronis’ design for this product because it covers more than simple secure and encrypted backups. Acronis Cyber Protect can also counter malware and even act as a ransomware protection tool because it proactively scans files backed up into the cloud (though you’ll find similar capabilities in its Cyber Backup sibling). However, Cyber Protect adds much more sophisticated cybersecurity technology to protect from newer malware threats even if these are brand new and as yet uncatalogued by most antivirus libraries.
This broad security arsenal should be attractive to a wide swath of customers. Cyber Protect is priced slightly high, though still in-range, for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), but it will also appeal to enterprise customers looking to lock down their employees data on remote PCs and mobile devices. Some of the features in Acronis Cyber Protect, like forensic backup, as well as the ability to do a memory dump on a current system, may seem like overkill for smaller businesses. But having them available could certainly be handy in the long run no matter what size business is being protected. Whether this additional protection is worth the higher price is something you’ll need to decide for yourself, but the company has gone to a lot of effort to make its security capabilities as comprehensive as possible.
Backup and storage is a fully covered and mature solution, as expected from such long-time player in that market and these capabilities closely mirror what you’ll find in Acronis Cyber Backup. What sets it apart from nearly all its competitors is just how tall its security stack has become. Subscribers get active cybersecurity protection that works in real-time with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered antivirus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and anti-cryptojacking technologies, making this a fully competitive, business-grade endpoint protection platform in addition to its backup capabilities.
In terms of desktop and mobile device management, CIO’s can enact policies as well as enable compliance while increasing productivity with features like URL filtering and a range of categorization options. Each endpoint can be subjected to a vulnerability assessment to sniff out any weak points. Global threat monitoring and smart alert functions can be applied to the Acronis Cloud as well as to network attached storage (NAS), system attached storages (SAN), backup tapes, disks, or any public or private cloud storage target, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure.
In a very pandemic-aware touch, Acronis has addressed some of the new security headaches faced by all the now home-bound teleworkers who rely on various online collaboration solutions to get through an average work day. For example, those using video conferencing champ, Zoom, for their team meetings are likely dealing with protecting those sessions from cyberattacks or hijacking through Zoom-bombing as well as other insidious attack vectors, like code injections or compromised links. Acronis Cyber Protect helps secure these tools with proactive vulnerability assessments, patch management, code injection prevention, and dedicated anti-malware measures.
But getting back to its core mission of data protection, Acronis Cyber Protect offers a wide array of options for idle and disk-image backup. This includes backing up the entire system as a single “image” file, which can ensure bare-metal restore capability so it’s easier to move your existing environment to a whole new PC. Acronis Universal Restore ensures not just quick and easy backup restore operations but also handles system migrations with a few clicks. Depending on your company’s needs, Acronis Cyber Protect can effectively replace basic MDM solutions with its ability to provide Remote Desktop access for support. That includes remote monitoring of drive health, missing updates, as well as active alerts for endpoints and the ability remote wipe devices on lost or decommissioned PCs.
Pricing and Tiers
Acronis Cyber Protect starts at $59.00 for the Acronis Cyber Protect Essentials plan. Again, this might seem high compared to some competitors, like MSP360, but you’re getting quite a bit for your money, especially since you’re potentially killing three birds with one stone: backup, endpoint protection, and MDM.
The initial tier of Cyber Protect offers file-level backups, local backups, incremental backups, differential backups, archive compression, ransomware and cryptojacking protection. You also get antivirus and anti-malware protection, exploit prevention, Windows Defender Antivirus management, Microsoft Security Essentials Management, and remote device wipe. To make sure an environment is stable, Cyber Protect also adds vulnerability assessment for third-party Apple macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows applications, patch management and remote desktop. Mobile device protection is not included in this tier but is available in some of the more expensive offerings.
Those other offerings are segmented by workload type, including Workstation, Server, Virtual Host, Windows Server Essentials, Microsoft 365, and G Suite. Moreover, Acronis offers businesses an all encompassing range of editions outside of the Essentials plan outlined above. This includes Acronis Cyber Backup Standard (for small and medium environments) for $69.99, which adds VMware ESXi configuration backup, NAS and network shares backup, multi-destination backup (backup replication), retention rules (Checksums), bare metal recovery (BMR), BMR to dissimilar hardware (universal restore), and #Cyberfit score for protection assessment.
Another tier, Acronis Cyber Protect Standard, costs $79.99 and covers what the company feels should be complete data protection and cybersecurity for small and medium environments. To what’s already available in Cyber Backup Standard, Acronis Cyber Protect Standard adds URL filtering and categorization, hard disk health monitoring, data protection mapping, continuous data protection, and a configuration assessment of Acronis Cyber infrastructure (for Linux).
Finally there’s Acronis Cyber Protect Advanced, which costs $119.00 and is meant as the right solution for larger IT environments. This tier aims for advanced data security and protection covering all the features in Cyber Protect Standard and adding #Cyberfit scoring for protection assessment, a forensic mode, backup scans for malware, safe backup recovery, corporate whitelisting, and backup configuration assessment.
Viewed together, that is a dizzying array of capabilities, which makes Acronis Cyber Protect one of the most comprehensive security and cloud backup solutions we’ve tested to date.
Setup and Installation
As you might expect with a product containing so many features, setup is going to be a somewhat involved process. We ran into an early issue when installing Acronis Cyber Protect on our Microsoft Windows 10 test machine because of a conflict with Acronis True Image WD Edition, which was pre-installed. They only way we could proceed with Cyber Protect was to uninstall Acronis True Image, an issue that IT administrators should probably look into before attempting any large-scale deployment for Cyber Protect.
Downloading and installing both the server and client components for Acronis Cyber Protect takes around 20 minutes for most home broadband users. Once you’ve downloaded the installer you have the option of installing a protection agent and management server or installing just a protection agent. In our case, we had to opt for the first, which begins by downloading an installation file. Once logged in, the panel on the left-hand side puts everything within easy reach.
Post install we could immediately access the Acronis Cyber Protect Management Server, which is the central view for managing your cyber protection functionalities, including backup, disaster recovery, AI-based malware and ransomware protection, remote desktop, and other endpoint security tools. It offers two options for deployment: on-premises (in your local network) and in the cloud (at one of Acronis’ data centers). Remember that if you opt for on-premises, you’re installing and maintaining that instance of Cyber Protect yourself, while if you choose the cloud option, Acronis is essentially working as a managed service provider, though you’ll need to configure and operate the solution yourself.
The web interface to the Management Server is called Acronis Cyber Protect Web Console. The Web Console is accessible by entering the login page address into the browser (for on-premise deployments, this is the IP address or name of the machine where the Management Server is installed; for cloud deployments, it’s the URL to access the cloud platform).
The overall layout of Acronis Cyber Protect is surprisingly intuitive for such a robust and complex solution. A right-hand navigation bar gives access to the Dashboard, which presents a snapshot of the current backup situation for all endpoints. This includes cyber protection showing how much storage was backed up today, number of malware blocked, malicious URLs blocked, existing vulnerabilities, and patches ready to install. Below that is a detailed look at devices, including their names, current protection status, device state (i.e. running or idle), agent and agent state, last definitions update, number of existing backups, and total storage used.
Along that same side, a Devices menu lets you pick the networked devices you want to protect. Each device needs to have the Acronis agent installed. After selecting a device, a pop-up window prompts you for a backup destination, schedule, whether or not you want encryption, and if you want the backup converted to a virtual machine (VM) that can be easily launched later. In addition, any special applications, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, a Microsoft Active Directory (AD) identity store, or an Oracle database can be selected here if the selected network device is hosting one of those platforms. Acronis does not adopt continuous protection by default, like Carbonite Cloud Backup does, but it does a good job of letting you approximate such a feature by tightening up the schedule since all backups are incremental. You can have incremental backups as often as every five minutes per endpoint.
Under Devices are links to Plans, Anti-Malware Protection, Software Management, Backup Storage, as well as Reports and Settings. Functionality is straightforward, although we did experience instances when navigating between sections was a bit laggy. A huge feature for businesses managing remote employees and their devices is the ability to apply specific policies and protection plans even to remote targets. Under Devices, there’s a Working from Home Policy that gives a slew of controls for viewing and enabling antivirus and anti-malware protection, URL filtering, vulnerability assessments, patch management, and a data protection map. There is even an option to run an immediate backup of one particular device right from this main console.
After you’ve completed your first backup, you can restore your system completely, or just recover a sub-set of the total files. Both processes take just a few clicks and work flawlessly. Alternatively, you have a one-button option to launch the latest backup as a VM. In addition, if you have direct access to where your local backups are stored, then the resulting backup files can be mounted and browsed natively under Windows.
One really nice capability is Acronis Instant Restore. Acting primarily as a business continuity feature, Acronis Instant Restore lets you launch a machine backed up with Acronis as a VMWare VM, without any data movement. That equates to being able to mount and launch a virtual machine from the backup storage device (cloud or local) without transferring any data to your virtual host. This also applies to any Amazon EC2 instance that’s been backed up. It’s worth mentioning that this is going to be highly dependent on the speed of your storage medium, so count on needing redundant local backups to make this work the way it was intended.
The overall backup capabilities of Acronis Cyber Protect are mature and well detailed in our previous review of Acronis Cyber Backup where it was rated highly for being a great overall backup solution with anti-ransomware capabilities. Acronis Cyber Protect builds on this foundation and amps up the proactive protection and security capabilities significantly, which will matter to businesses managing scores of now-remote sites all burdened with data that needs to be locked down.
While other cloud backup solutions do provide security integrations, Acronis steps that up by using AI-based behavioral detection for zero-day attack prevention. That’s an innovative feature that can hunt down and diminish threats from new or uncategorized exploits. It does this by studying the way applications work in a PC endpoint and clamping down on them if they start messing with registry files or encrypting files and folders, which is a common preliminary move for ransomware attacks. Many competing cloud backup solutions can still get compromised when backups are deleted by the ransomware. Acronis is so far the only solution we’ve tested that can automatically restore a safe backup instance.
For businesses that have other data repositories in the cloud, Acronis Cyber Protect can also scan data located in third-party public clouds for malware. Acronis will continue to expand the features of Cyber Protect later in 2021 to include data protection and other services for existing subscribers.
Advanced, But Great Protection for Remote Workers
If you’re a smaller business looking for something more basic and cheap, Acronis may not be for you. But weigh the price carefully against having an all-in-one solution covering not just backups, but also endpoint security and device management with specific features aimed at remote workers. Compare that to opting for a lower-cost solution that just focuses on backing up and restoring data and might still be designed more for a central office than potentially hundreds of remote workers.
For businesses that need most if not all of the features and protection from Acronis, being able to access all of them from a single interface is a notable convenience that CIO’s and admins should definitely find enticing. This wide array of features Acronis Cyber Protect packs into a single product as well as because it seems tailor-made for these difficult times, all combine to earn it our Editors’ Choice designation for business-grade cloud backup.
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