by Peter Wood
Acronis True Image 10 Home
As its name suggests, Acronis True Image was originally a disk-imaging program. Rather than backing up specific files or folders, it creates an exact copy of all the information on your hard disk. If Windows should become corrupted and no longer able to boot, you can restore your system by overwriting your hard disk with the image file.
Version 10 of True Image is still able to copy an entire hard disk or partition, but it does a lot more besides. As you'd expect, it offers incremental and differential backups, allowing you to save disk space and perform speedier backups. It is also able to mount disk images so that they appear as drives in My Computer. This makes finding and restoring individual files and folders quick and easy. The program can clone a hard disk, too, copying the entire contents and file structure of one disk straight to another. Backup images can be made on the fly or automatically according to a user defined schedule.
Useful as these features are, though, they are all fairly standard in modern disk-imaging programs. What distinguishes Acronis True Image from competitors such as Symantec's Norton Ghost are those features that more properly belong to a sophisticated backup program. As well as making images of an entire disk or partition, Acronis True Image 10 Home can make backups of particular files or folders. It can also back up your emails, and it can search for and back up specific types of file, such as music or image files, for instance. The program can even back up the settings of particular applications. Should the application in question become unstable and need to be reinstalled, you can use the settings saved in Acronis True Image to restore its settings quickly to the state you want.
In practice, some of these features suffer from limitations that will frustrate some users. The only email clients Acronis True Image can back up are Outlook and Outlook Express. It didn't work at all with the popular Thunderbird email program, and it can back up the settings of only a limited number of applications. These drawbacks aside, Acronis provides the user with a far greater degree of specificity and control than its major competitors.
Acronis True Image 10 Home is easy to use. Every important setting is available from the program's main screen. At first, this didn't seem like a good idea; it makes the main screen look cluttered. But once you've worked with the program for a short while, you'll learn where to find the options or settings you need. Norton Ghost, by contrast, hides some important functions behind several menus and sub-programs; we almost overlooked them entirely.
Despite a few shortcomings, Acronis True Image 10 Home is versatile, precise, easy to use and does everything you need in order to protect your valuable data. It's the best disk-imaging and backup program we've seen, and a well-deserved Best Buy.