Acronis True Image 8.0 is a speedy and powerful disk-imaging utility that copies the entire contents of your hard drive--data and operating system files, personalized settings, everything--onto another disk or disk partition, very useful when mirroring standard software configurations across new office desktops. Its interface is polished and easy to navigate; wizards step you through complex backup and restore tasks. It costs about the same as , but True Image is significantly faster and less taxing on your system resources during routine backups. Like Ghost, True Image supports a variety of external media, including CD and DVD writers, as well as USB and FireWire drives. True Image also offers many tools not found in Ghost, including the ability to format and partition disks. Given its many features and performance results, Acronis True Image is a great buy and easily our CNET Editors' Choice for disk-imaging technology. Installing Acronis True Image 8.0 is simple and takes just a few minutes. The installation process also allows you to create a bootable rescue disk (floppy or CD), which you'll need to reboot the PC and restore data after a hard disk crash. Our setup proceeded without incident.
The True Image interface is similar to that of Norton Ghost 9.0: Both present orderly main screens with large, colorful icons, as well as wizards that whisk you through major tasks. Dig deeper, though, and True Image's superiority becomes apparent. Its Create Image Wizard, for instance, estimates the time it'll take to image your drive and gives you a ballpark figure for the backup file's size. Ghost, by comparison, makes you search the help file or the manual for this information.
Unfortunately, some True Image terminology is a tad geeky. For example, the title bar of the backup dialog box reads Commit Pending Operations. Say what? Similarly, one menu item, Create Bootable Rescue Media, is bound to baffle more than a few neophytes. And the Image Archive Splitting screen in the Create Image Wizard warns, "FAT32 does not support files larger than 4GB." That's good to know, but how do you find out which file system you're actually using (FAT32 or NTFS)? The wizard doesn't say. On the plus side, Acronis automatically breaks large backup jobs into smaller chunks for removable media such as CD-R discs.Acronis True Image 8.0, like Norton Ghost 9.0, performs backup/restore operations in Windows. That means you can use your computer normally while Acronis toils in the background. True Image exacts a slight performance hit, naturally, but nothing near the performance loss you get when using Ghost. In our tests, for instance, Microsoft Word took about 8 seconds to load during a True Image backup, some 2 seconds longer than normal. By comparison, during a Norton Ghost backup, Word took a leisurely 13 seconds to load. True Image proved faster than Ghost at running backups, too. It archived our 11GB partition in just 16 minutes--more than 2.5 times faster than Ghost.
True Image's skills at estimating backup times aren't perfect, though. It predicted our 16-minute backup would take 40 minutes. (Then again, we're not complaining about the faster performance.) Similarly, it estimated the size of our compressed archive to be 6.6GB, when the actual size was significantly larger, 8.1GB. According to Acronis, estimates are often imperfect because the program doesn't know what types of files are on your drive. For instance, on a disk with a lot of compressed files, the archive size will often be larger than the estimate.