Top critical review
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Really useful for the tech literate
on 16 December 2010
*** see update at end of this review; I've knoocked 2 stars off because of my experience with Acronis 11 since writing the original review***
I am a developer (Flash and Flex) and have previously worked full time as a book author (web design books). My data is important. Not only do I need to back it up, but I also need to be able to move my work environment between computers, and also need to be able to run different operating systems across the same computer (for when I am checking a design for multiple browser and O/S compatibility).
I have used previous versions of several applications (Acronis True Image, Powerquest Partition magic, etc), but Disk Director gives me all my required features in a single application. With a current Amazon price (as of this writing, Dec 2010) of 17 quid for a boxed version it has to be a bargain for the features you get, not least when the price for the download only version (from the Acronis site) is £34.95!
Only downside is that it requires a bit of basic knowledge of hard drives (difference between physical and logical drives, partitions, different format types, etc).
Finally, for those unsure what this application actually does, I've provided a quick comparison below.
Things this application lets you do;
- Create/edit partitions without having to reformat.
- Backup your entire hard drive onto another drive
- Make an exact copy of your hard drive onto another drive
(so you can physically swap the two in case of failure).
- Helps recover your computer if the hard drive gets a fatal disk error on the operating system.
- Run windows XP, vista and Windows 7 on the same machine via a boot selector
- If your computer has more than one hard drive, you can make it look like one big drive.
- Helps if you want to move your OS to a solid state drive
Things that this application doesn't do;
- Provide virus protection.
- Perform regular back up behind the scenes
- Optimise your drives or file structure (although it can help).
- Make your computer run faster than it would without this application.
*** Update 2011 ***
I used Acronis 11 recently to clone a boot drive on Windows XP (I wanted to clone an old IDE drive to a faster, higher capacity SATA drive). As part of the cloning process, I was given the option to clone the hard drive ID (if you do this, you can't use the clone and the original on the same computer, as the operating system sees the two drives as the same device). I selected no. No further options or warnings were given and the cloning proceeded.
After a successful cloning, I rebooted the computer on the original hard drive, leaving the clone connected. That's where the problems started!
Windows spread the boot files across the two drives, so that it only booted if BOTH the original and clone were connected, and when I later removed the clone, the computer no longer started (the Windows XP installation was no longer even recognised by Windows repair options from the Windows installation DVD). It took me about 3 hours to get back to a stable boot without the clone (after having spent about 2 hours learning the low level windows boot procedure, so I could locate and rebuild the boot sequence files), and once I did, Windows inexplicably started seeing my quad core processor as a single core (complete with performance reduction). Only fix for that was a repair install; another hour wasted!
Using something like Disk director, you would expect a simple clone operation to be painless because you are steered away from all pitfalls (a helpful requester to remove the clone `because this may split your boot files across the two drives' is all that is needed in this sorry case).
Such an ommision takes the shine off Acronis 11 for me; previous versions always second guessed what you were doing and stopped you making such mistakes. Some further quality control may be required with Acronis 11 to get it up the the usability standard of previous incarnations. Two stars off the original review score... and I'm beginning to wish I'd stuck with my older version (Acronis 10) from way back in 2007!