By Ken Feinstein

PowerQuest Drive Image and Norton Ghost have traditionally dominated the market for disk-imaging software. However, Acronis True Image, shown in Figure A, is shaking up the status quo with its ability to create an image of a system that’s running without shutting down to DOS mode. That trick makes it the most convenient imaging software we’ve seen to date. Add support for a wide array of storage options and a surprisingly low price, and True Image is tough competition against the longtime powerhouses. Click here to check the latest price on True Image.

All Windows—almost all the time
Installing True Image is a straightforward process that uses a standard Windows setup program. During installation, True Image prompts you to create bootable rescue disks that will let you run the program after a system disaster. The software can even use your recordable CD-R drive to create a rescue CD, a handy feature for users of notebooks or other PCs without a floppy drive.

Figure A
CNET Rating: 7 out of 10
The good: Creates a backup image of your Windows system disk; supports recordable DVD drives; inexpensive; easy-to-use wizard-based interface.
The bad: No phone tech support; doesn’t include a scheduling utility.

Almost all the functions in True Image perform within Windows and don’t require you to shut down to DOS mode. It’s the first imaging software we’ve seen that can create an image of a system disk while the system is still running. Granted, you have to close all of your open applications, but it’s still faster and less disruptive than Ghost or Drive Image, both of which require you to reboot your system to DOS. Note: True Image requires you to shut down to DOS only when you restore a system partition.

Just follow the wizard
True Image’s wizard-based interface guides you through its functions, leaving you no opportunity to wander astray. When you first run the program, you’ll see three wizard options that allow you to create an image, restore an image, and explore an image to extract individual files or folders (Figure B). As you proceed through each option, the software offers detailed instructions and advice. You can also configure the image-creation process from within the wizard—for example, you can select the level of compression or password-protect images for an added layer of security.

Figure B
Acronis True Image uses a wizard-based interface to take you step-by-step through the image creation or restoration process.

Even better, True Image bests PowerQuest’s Drive Image 2002 in some important areas. For one, it can create images on recordable DVD media, a much more convenient option than recording a single large partition onto multiple CD-Rs. In addition, True Image supports external USB drives, but it offers limited FireWire support. (The upcoming version of Norton Ghost is expected to support both.) On the downside, True Image lacks Drive Image’s scheduling utility, which lets you create images unattended, and it doesn’t include a utility like Drive Image’s that would let you partition your hard drive on the fly to create storage for your disk image. True Image also lacks the ability to copy one partition to another without creating an intermediate disk image along the way.

No phone or online support
The True Image retail box includes a printed, 90-page manual that carefully walks you through the image-creation and restoration process; if you purchase and download the application online, you can get the manual as a PDF file. The company offers free technical support via e-mail but no phone support. With an app that performs such crucial tasks, that’s a serious shortcoming. The Acronis site provides very little troubleshooting help for True Image, making the lack of phone support all the more vexing.

Priced at $44.99, $20 less than its competitors, Acronis True Image delivers outstanding features at a surprisingly low price. True Image’s ability to write to recordable DVDs and its image creation of system disks within Windows will tip the scale for some. But if you’re looking for scheduling features, partition creation, and disk-to-disk copying, stick with PowerQuest Drive Image.

Complete specifications
Click here to check the latest price on True Image. Table A lists the complete product specifications.
Table A

Product specifications






Distribution media


Feature 1

Acronis True Image stores disk images on hard and floppy disks, any recordable CD/DVD media, ZIP, Jaz and other removable storage devices, allowing to protect archives by a password.

Feature 2

Creates and restores disk images in Windows—no need to reboot to DOS even when backing up system partition

Feature 3

Mounts partitions stored inside an image as the logical drives in Windows so you can explore the archive and/or restore separate files

Feature 4

Creates exact disk images for complete data insurance

Feature 5

Restores whole hard disk drives and separate partitions and/or replaces lost or damaged files


Software license pricing


Software license qty

One user

Software license type

Complete package

System Requirements

Min operating system

Microsoft Windows 95/98/2K/Me/XP/NT

Min processor type

Intel Pentium

Min RAM size

32 MB

Interface devices

Mouse, floppy or CD-RW drive



Product info support

This review was originally published by CNET on August 12, 2002.