How important is backing up? Well, heed now this cautionary tale.

One night, Bob was working late next to a columnist who had just finished his piece for the morning newspaper. Suddenly, with just 10 minutes to deadline, the columnist’s computer crashed, wiping out everything he had just done.

His solution was immediate and straightforward: He threw the computer out the window, which was closed at the time. Unfortunately, the window was on the 13th floor of the newspaper building; fortunately, it was after midnight and no one was walking below.

Such stringent measures and possibly dire results might be avoided using Acronis True Image 11 Home, a $50 backup program for Windows that captures a true image of what you’ve just done. Now we know that Windows XPAcronis True Image Home Professional and Vista Premium systems have their own backup routines built in. (You can find them by clicking “start,” choose “help and support” and type “backup.”) But the latest version of True Image lets you do a number of things the built-in Windows software does not.

The program comes with lots of extras that many people have asked us about over the years, like File Shredder and Drive Cleanser. File Shredder makes your discarded files unrecoverable; Drive Cleanser completely wipes your hard drive clean, for that moment when you’re going to give your old computer away.

The one thing you can’t do with the True Image home version — or Windows backup software, either, for that matter — is clone one PC’s drive and transfer it to a new computer or an entire office network. But you can do this with True Image Echo Workstation for $80, plus a $30 add-on called Universal Restore. You can then take the whole shebang — everything on your hard drive — and transfer it to a new computer, even if that computer is just “bare metal,” as they say. A free trial of Echo is available at Acronis.com.


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