NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2005
Acronis True Image 8.0
A Review by Bill Shook, Editor, NWA-PCUG
(click to email author)

Acronis True Image 8.0 is a backup and disaster recovery software package that allows creating exact images of the hard drive or individual partitions, including all operating systems, programs, data, personal settings, and anything else there. It accomplishes this through the basic functions of creating and restoring images, both full disk or partition images, and incremental images of only changes made since last backup.

System requirements are minimal. Pentium or compatible PC, 32 meg of memory, floppy or cd-rom, VGA monitor, mouse, free hard disk space for storing images, and CD-ROM to install. Also, it supports all Windows products and operating systems and virtually anything attached to the system, such as, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Zip drives, USB, etc. This review was performed on a Dell 8250, XP operating system SP 1, 2.67 gigahertz, 512 meg ram and 2 120 gig hard drives.

True Image installed smoothly with only one problem. I wasn't aware that it wouldn't install directly by putting in the CD-ROM disc. At the present time, it is available only by downloading, so the distributor downloaded it and put it on a CD-ROM disc. It can't be installed directly from the disc, but must be double clicked from the disc or copied to the hard disk and run from there.

Menus and Operations
The program is run from an XP-like menu with icons and a left hand pane with supplemental operations and explanations, similar to XP explorer menus. It is very user friendly, providing explanations on all icons and instructions, thus with rare exception avoiding having to navigate elsewhere for help, although a comprehensive PDF users guide is provided. Many single partition create and restore operations were performed which went quite well. Partitions used were all in the 18 to 23 gig size which were created and restored in 12 to 16 minutes each, depending on the size. The one exception to this time range of creation and restoration is restoring to the C partition or unallocated space, which required from 100 to 110 minutes, though it's well to point out here, that restoration was flawless, even though the long time. Acronis advises a long restore time can happen sometimes with restores of this size and using the stand alone bootable method, required because of the C drive as mentioned in the following paragraph. All images are created totally within Windows as are all restores providing there are no files running in the partitions to be restored. Any partition with files running, even in the background, must be restored outside of Windows through the stand-alone program, which will take more time. This always applies to C, but can also apply to other partitions. So, it's best to run a rather inactive system when doing restores. Also, it's best to keep in mind that the partition being restored to will be deleted prior to restoring the image to it. So, when it shows you the operations to be performed just before execution, and one of them is a partition to be deleted and tells you it will be performed when you press the Proceed button, don't expect it to also later ask you 'Are you sure?' as I did. It didn't ask and I saw my C partition deleted...but brought back on the subsequent operation.

Creating Images
To create images requires identifying a place to store the image files, which must be other than a partition not planned for restoration. Therefore, it is well to set aside a partition solely for image files, and the like. Also required is a selection of either full backup or incremental backup, and one of 4 levels of compression, with Normal recommended, which worked out to be approximately 50% of usage, where 40% is thought to be average for the Normal selection. Also required is whether or not to allow automatic creation of multiple image files for one image, in case one file should be too large. Automatic is recommended. Description of backup and password protection are also offered.

Restoring Images
The restore operation, through explore-like menus, asks to identify which image files are to be restored and to which partitions. Also, should they be FAT 16 or 32, should size be changed, be active and/or primary, and should any other partitions also be restored during this same operation. All of my restores with the True Image program were restores to a single partition which ran flawlessly, except for the final one which was to test restoring an image to 4 separate partitions during one operation. It also ran error free. However, Partition Magic didn't like the results. I've been using Partition Magic rather frequently for some time with no faults. But, when I looked at the partitions with PM following the 4 restore, it gave an error that said some partitions were overlapping others and could result in lost data and it prevented use of PM on the affected disk. All partitions, programs and data, operated normally with no sign of any problem during normal operation. As stated earlier, all of my many restore operations with True Image went flawlessly, including the 4 partition restore, and I was not able to determine if the problem was with the True Image 4 partition restore or Partition Magic; however, Acronis Support advises that the 4 position restore on the same disk can sometimes cause errors and should be used very carefully. In view of this, it is recommended to restore each partition separately starting with partitions at the front of the disk.

Exploring and Unplugging Images
True Image also provides exploring images by creating virtual images, allowing viewing content and recovering and restoring individual files and/or folders without needing to restore the complete partition. It's well to cover another operation here, that of Unplugging images, which means deleting virtual drives. They are automatically deleted through bootup, if not before. A note of caution here: If an incremental image is tried based on the image explored, the process to create the new image will wait until the virtual image is unplugged.

Disk Cloning and Adding New Disks
Disk Cloning transfers everything from one disk to another, with partition resizing being available. I thought it would provide copying one partition on a drive to another partition on the same or another drive, but I couldn't find any way it would do this, nor does the owners’ manual have anything on it that I could find. Early in the Disk Clone operation, it required deleting everything on the destination drive, which wouldn't be allowed. Also, the function Adding New Disks resulted in similar limitations, even calling for formatting the new disk. But copying one partition to another could be accomplished by imaging the source partition and restoring it in the destination partition.

As mentioned, I like this product primarily because of its XP-like screens, ease of operation, and its performance. User Group members may purchase Acronis True Image 8.0 at a special price of $34 (MSRP is $49.99) plus S&H by ordering from the secure web site at http://www.ugr.com/order.html. Indicate the special price code of UGEVAL04 with your order.


Gene and Linda Barlow's Visitation
Members (and guests) should note that Gene and Linda Barlow with be with us during our regular meeting at the Jones Center on June 11th, which is the second saturday rescheduled from the planned third saturday. Please spread the word so as many people that wish can hear the excellent presentation by Gene on new PC products.

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