We all like to think we’re a little more computer savvie than we actually are and one of the ways to tell the grownups from the kids messing about is when it comes to having a backup strategy in place. After all, there are times when only reinstalling Windows is the only thing you can do.

We’ve not reviewed Acronis True Image before but we’ve been using it for a while and were hoping this latest version would be as comprehensive as earlier versions. The software is essentially a number of tools that allow you to make and restore backups of your computer’s system. Acronis has added a feature that allows the program to filter out different file types, so you no longer need to store all your music in My Music, or images in My Pictures, for the program to locate them and add them to the backup. This may sound obvious but it’s a nice addition not found in previous versions.

Fortunately for the less than tech-literate, it does all this using a wizard driven interface that will allow you to backup your entire computer, data, applications and even your email. Version 10 now has support for Outlook, not just the email part but also the calendar, tasks and contacts, which in itself is impressive stuff and could well be, on occasion, worth the price alone.

It’s not just backing up the content of your system that you can do. The name of the product should give you a hint, as it allows you to create an image of your system, so if you have a fatal crash at some later date – usually from viral attack or just installing something your computer didn’t like – you can re-install the fully working image. The tool creates a bootable file, so should you need to fully re-instate Windows, you can do so from the file, which can save a great deal of time and effort. An extra tool that is included is Startup Recovery Manager, which creates a zone on your hard drive, so you can access your system without logging into Windows itself. This is ideal if you’re having boot problems that can’t be solved in the BIOS.

Obviously, this image is only as current as the last time you can the program but you can set it to run regular backups and as you can choose to record either to an external hard drive or even a DVD disc, you’ll be safe from mishaps in the future. A regular problem on most systems is a software crash that wipes the odd system setting for what seems no reason. Fortunately, there are tools that now allow you to restore settings, so such problems shouldn’t be too much of a bugbear.

Verdict

Acronis hasn’t made major changes to True Image, keeping the core of the program the same. So, if you have version 8 or 9, there seems little reason to upgrade. However, if you haven’t got a copy, then we’d suggest adding it to your list, as it will pay for itself as soon as you have a problem with your PC.