ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE 18 $50

Program to back up hard drives a bargain

Acronis True Image 18 does both onsite and cloud backups, and quite inexpensively. For $50, you get the backup program only. Pay more, and you get cloud backup in addition to local backup on an external drive. Those drives cost as little as $50 for a terabyte.

The 2017 version of Acronis was easy to use and dependable. The latest version, 2018, goes even further to help folks make essential backups. The graphical interface is more user-friendly. And as a bonus, Acronis 2018 uses artificial intelligence to ferret out ransomware from backups. That malicious virus demands ransom to unfreeze a computer.

Both versions let you do a full backup, incremental backup and even clone a hard drive. To use the clone feature, transfer the old drive to the new one with a cable. It’s easy and amazingly accurate — even the operating system transferred over.

Among the utilities in the program is an archive feature that transfers old and large files to an external drive, freeing up space on the Windows or Mac computers’ hard drives.

If you use the cloud backup feature in the more expensive versions of Acronis, files can be synchronized to all your computers, even your smartphone. Other utilities will clean up your system’s unnecessary files and even erase a hard drive so that hackers can’t recover the data on them.

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SWIPE CASTERS FREE

Pattern game fun, although repetitive

Take command of magic to defeat monsters in Swipe Casters, a smartphone game that tests your speed and pattern recognition. Faced with different kinds of monsters, players are challenged to duplicate the correct pattern by swiping between several points on a magic circle. The more you advance, the more complicated the patterns get. Plus, there’s a time limit — you can’t expect monsters to wait forever for you to strike, after all — so you have to think and act quickly. Get the pattern wrong and you will be defeated.

The game is fun, though it can get a little repetitive, and one is certainly incentivized to watch ads if they don’t want to pay real money for the in-game currency. But the premise is solid, and for shorter playing sessions it’s a fun way to pass the time. Plus, you get to pretend to be a sorceress. What’s not to love about that?

WASHINGTON POST