Acronis True Image 8.0 review: Acronis True Image 8.0

Acronis True Image 8.0

4 min read

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Acronis True Image 8.0

The Good

Fast backups; clean interface; partitions and formats hard drives.

The Bad

Expensive phone support; some terminology too technical for beginners.

The Bottom Line

Acronis True Image 8.0 is a first-class imaging program that makes it easy to copy the contents of a hard drive to removable media or to a separate disk or partition. We recommend it.
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 Norton Ghost 9.0, 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.

Acronis True Image 8.0 has a clean, uncluttered interface that's easy to browse.

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.

Acronis True Image runs very speedy backups: 2.5 times faster than Norton Ghost in our tests.

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.

True Image performs tasks that Ghost doesn't. For example: partitioning and formatting a new drive are simple chores when handled by True Image, but not by Ghost. And the millions of PCs stuck with Windows 95/98, lacking the memory and processor power for Windows XP, can use True Image but not Norton Ghost 9.0. For Windows 95/98 users, the Ghost 9.0 retail package includes a copy of the clunky, old Ghost 2003, which reboots you into DOS to run a backup.

Acronis's phone support is expensive: $35 for a single incident or $100 for three incidents. (An "incident" isn't a single call, but rather a specific problem than may take several calls to resolve.) Symantec charges $29.95 per incident or $2.95 per minute for incidents involving Norton Ghost. Most users will opt for e-mail or fax support, both of which are free. We found the e-mail option to be very efficient;. Acronis answered our e-mail queries within 24 hours, while Symantec took four to five days.

The Acronis True Image help section is an Adobe Acrobat file that's difficult to navigate.

Two small gripes: There's no online support form for e-mail queries; rather you must enter the product name (Acronis True Image), version and build number, and operating system information in the body of a standard e-mail message. It's a bit tedious. And the program's help section is in Adobe Acrobat format, which is harder to navigate and search than a conventional Windows help file.


Acronis True Image 8.0

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 9Support 7