Date: August 20th, 2002
I remember way back when I was still living in Germany, my little sister was crazy about David Hasselhoff. She had several of his albums (shudder), and Knight Rider was mandatory TV viewing. Back then, Hasselhoff was big in Europe, yet here in the US nobody had ever heard of him. Acronis’ (who originated in Russia) TrueImage drive imaging software has been in a similar situation – well-known in Europe but virtually unknown in the US – but with one major difference: its performance does not induce violent retching.
What does it do?
In a nutshell, Acronis TrueImage 6.0 (TI6) is drive imaging software, plain and simple. It enables you to create an image of partitions on your hard drive as a backup in case of disaster, and allows you to restore the image when disaster has struck, e.g. you accidentally wiped out a partition, your hard drive crashed, or your little sister deleted all your data to make room for David Hasselhoff MP3s.
Acronis TrueImage 6.0 runs on Windows 95/98, ME, NT4, 2000, and XP. It supports FAT16/32 and NTFS, as well as the Linux Ext2, Ext3, and ReiserFS file systems.
OK, that sounds good, but there are already two other programs out there, namely Symantec’s Norton Ghost and PowerQuest’s Drive Image that do the same thing, so what makes Acronis TrueImage 6.0 even worth your attention? Let’s take a look at some of its features.
The most amazing feature of TI6 can create an image of a system partition that is currently in use. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard correctly, no more booting into DOS in order to image your Windows system partition. This feature alone puts it ahead of DI and Ghost because it makes TI6 great for everyday backups while you are in Windows. Now there are no more excuses not to image your hard drive because you can do all your drive imaging from within Windows. The only time you have to reboot into DOS is when you need to restore an active system partition. Non-sytem partitions can be restored in Windows.
The great part about restoring a system partition is that if you start the process in Windows, the program will inform you that you have to boot into DOS, but it offers to do it for you. Clicking that option reboots your PC into DOS and starts TI6 without the need for a TI6 boot disk! The way this is accomplished is by replacing the Master Boot Record (MBR) with one that loads a Linux RAM-disk and Linux kernel with the Acronis TrueImage 6.0 application. When the program is finished, the original MBR is restored and the computer is rebooted back into its usual mode.
The only time you need a TI6 boot disk is when your system partition is funked up beyond all recognition. For that situation, TI6 prompts you to create a bootable rescue disk during the initial program installation. The nice thing here is that you get the choice to create either a set of three floppies, or a bootable CD if you have a burner. The CD is great for laptops without floppy drive, also because it boots much much quicker than three floppies. But that’s not all: to put the cherry on the pie, the rescue disk already has built-in support for SCSI, CD burners, DVD burners, and network adapters! You do not have to supply or choose drivers to include on the disk, or mess with the boot files on the disk, just to find out that something doesn’t work like it can easily happen with Ghost or Drive Image.
Again, Linux is the secret behind the magic. The bootable CD contains a Linux kernel with network and SCSI drivers and the Acronis TrueImage 6.0 application. Using Linux allows Acronis to offer much better hardware support than ever possible in DOS. It also supports the majority of USB 1.0/2.0 and PCMCIA devices. While FireWire is not yet supported since the FireWire support in Linux is still experimental, it is expected to follow with the new Linux kernel release.
Another outstanding feature of TI6 is its ease of use. I call it hands-down the easiest drive imaging software due to its great wizard interface with detailed instructions and explanations in each window. Drive Image and especially Norton Ghost can be very intimidating to beginner to intermediate users, but not TI6. Every operation is wizard driven utilizing a comfortable XP-style interface both in Windows as well as in non-Windows mode, asking the user simple questions while supplying detailed explanantions on the possible choices. This makes the well-written and nicely laid out manual almost superfluous.
But enough of all this dry theory. Let’s take a look at Acronis TrueImage 6.0 in action.