by David Bayon
Original article at PC Pro web site
Acronis True Image 11 Home
Another minor revision, but the addition of privacy functions further extends its impressively wide focus.
Acronis' backup and protection suite has been on our A List for a matter of years, but with such a comprehensive and well-established piece of software it's becoming difficult to innovate with each new version. Acronis True Image 10 (web ID: 102270) added Vista support and a few new options, but there wasn't a great deal to tempt XP users into an upgrade.
Many may look at Acronis True Image 11 with the same sceptical eye, but while there certainly aren't oodles of new features, the few that have been added are interesting enough to make this a more tempting upgrade. The biggest of those is the new Try & Decide mode, which novices will find far simpler to use than Vista's system restore utility.
It uses True Image's familiar Secure Zone — the hidden partition you set aside to house a recovery image of your system in case of total failure — but operates differently. When Try & Decide mode is enabled, any changes you make to your system — potentially damaging actions such as software installations and opening attachments — will only be performed on a virtual replica of your system drive within the Secure Zone.
Depending on the size of your Secure Zone, it can keep tracking your activities for considerable time, although it's best used in small doses when you know there's a risk involved. Once you're satisfied your PC won't keel over, simply choose to either apply or discard the changes.
It's an interesting addition, and reduces the likelihood of needing the whole backup-restore routine. Of course, that side of Acronis is still intact, with all the usual features for backing up your entire system or individual files and folders, either fully or incrementally and at specified times. It worked reliably throughout our testing, both with the Secure Zone and external storage used as the backup destination. Although this is the Home version, there's now support for SAS disks to go with the wide range of storage types already supported.
The main menu is now a simplified front end, doing away with the confusing side menus of old. There are just four main options and a colour-coded system state section to warn you if a backup is needed. You can also now schedule validations of your archives as well as standard backups. On the restore side, the only major addition is the ability to preserve recent versions of files when restoring a backup to ensure older versions don't overwrite new work.
With onsite backup and restore just about set in stone, it's inevitable that companies such as Acronis are looking to add value in other ways. To this end, Acronis True Image 11 borrows heavily from privacy applications, adding a file-shredding function and, perhaps more interestingly, a drive "cleanser". Thus, in the event that you need to discard a hard disk, whether it's a simple upgrade or the return of a loaned laptop to your company, True Image can securely erase all of your data from it.
Acronis True Image 11 further polishes an already fantastically featured piece of software, and for those who don't already have backup software on their PC it's a must-have. The long-present choice of drive cloning and imaging or fully customisable backup already makes it a two-in-one product, which rivals such as Norton Ghost have only recently progressed to, and the addition of some decent privacy functions means there's no more need for separate clean-up applications, either.
A word of caution, though. As with any low-level app, some people have experienced quirks on their specific system that stop them from using all the features. We recommend you try out the features on a dummy run before using them in anger. If you're one of the unlucky few, contact Acronis support.
True Image is steadily growing branches, while improving its interface and ease of use with each release, which can only add to the already tremendous value on offer. Again, whether the new additions are enough to tempt owners of version 10 is down to the individual, but Acronis True Image 11 remains a fine piece of software that further cements its place on the A List.