To mark the move to an annual naming structure, Acronis True Image 2009 comes with a complete overhaul of the ageing user interface. Gone are the old blue menus and slightly old-fashioned layout of True Image 11, in favour of a clean, clear and well-organised Vista-style front end. Acronis has always had the features, but this could be the version that finally marries them with novice-friendly ease of use.
Before you even get to that interface, True Image attempts to head you off after installation with an option to back up your entire system volume and master boot record. Once done, it's set to repeat at an interval of your choosing - if that's enough for your needs, you don't have to go any further.
But you'd be mad not to, since True Image has so many tweaks to ease your progress, from the usual AES protection on archives, to the choice of incremental or differential backups. Once you have a few on the go, Acronis can automatically consolidate those parts into one full archive, ready to start over.
Archives can be split automatically when they grow too large, and system priority can be set to avoid obstructing your daily routine.
There are some new additions, too. Archives are no longer a closed labyrinth of files: if you use either Windows' or Google's Desktop Search utilities, Acronis can install a plug-in that enables their use in text searches of TIB archives.
Whether it's just to see in which archive a given file resides, or to open, edit or move a file, it's a useful addition to True Image's post-backup flexibility.
Other additions include the ability to choose between traditional TIB archives and the popular ZIP format, potentially making it easier to make use of backups on other systems. Backups can now wait to run if the destination drive isn't ready; archives can be created on any external media, as well as FTP servers and network drives.
Despite this, it's hard to see True Image 2009 as a new product; it's really the same old backup tool under a superior interface. That interface is enough to justify its recommendations and keep it on the A List. But those who are already in the Acronis camp won't lose out much by sticking with what they already have.