We're already big fans of Acronis True Image, because the software has got us out of many a pickle in the past. Would the new version bring anything fresh to the mix? If you've not used the program before, then put simply it's a suite of tools that no PC user should be without.

The main features of the software are for creating and restoring backups of your data. This is achieved using wizards and you can opt to back up your entire PC, your data, your application settings and your email. In fact, version 10 enables you to back up Outlook completely. That's all your email, contacts, calendar entries and tasks - impressive.

Most people's hard drives are filled up with images, music files and video clips, so Acronis has added a back-up filter that tracks down all such files wherever they are on your PC. This means that you don't have to sort out each one because Acronis does the hard work. The tool supports other file types too, such as standard documents and finance files.

As the name of the software suggests, True Image does more than just backups. You can take a snapshot of your whole system to protect yourself from any failure in the future. These images can be saved onto other hard drives, either inside your PC or to external ones. To help you load the image back up again, the install disc for the software is bootable so you can bring them back outside of your OS.

In addition, you're also provided with a full version of Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. This creates a secure zone on the hard drive of your choice that you access as your PC starts, but before the OS kicks in. So if you're experiencing boot problems, you can restore your system without getting bogged down in Windows.

Multi drives

As hard drives grow in size and the amount of data we store on our PCs increases, there'll probably come a time when you want to install a new drive in your system. You could move all your data over manually and reinstall Windows, hoping that nothing gets left behind. Alternatively, you could use True Image's management tools.

The Add New Disk utility is a little limited. In terms of setting up a new drive, it doesn't do anything that Windows doesn't already do. However, the Clone Disk tool is a lot more useful. As the name suggests, it copies every single sector of your drive and makes it bootable, which is more than many of its rival software can manage. This is all set up within Windows, but the hard work is done outside of the OS as your PC reboots.

When everything goes wrong and you have to restore your data, you often lose your settings for various applications, even if no files are missing. This can take time to redo, so it's handy that True Image now includes such items when you back up your system. The feature is available for many of the most popular programs, not just Microsoft's big hitters.

From having used the software before, little has changed with version 10. The new features are worth having, but if you already have an earlier release, none are compelling enough to make you want to trade up. However, if you haven't bought it before, you should do now.