Acronis True Image 11 Home ($49.99; free 15-day trial) lets Linux and Windows users create an exact copy of their PCs to provide peace of mind should a computing mishap occur. Acronis offers plenty of options: We scheduled incremental or full system-wide backups (including program configuration settings and e-mail) to our notebook's hard drive or to an external hard drive, set events that will trigger the program to begin backing up automatically (such as every time our system starts up), and select our backup priority. The Low setting, for example, would back up slowly with minimum impact on our notebook's performance; the High setting, conversely, backs up at maximum speed and may impact system performance.
On our tests, Acronis True Image 11 Home took longer than the competition to set up, as we had to read the descriptions of the myriad options available. The actual backup of our 30GB of content to an external hard drive took 50 minutes--nearly on a par with the SyncBackSE but a bit slower than Memeo's solution. Like SyncBackSE, Acronis True Image 11 Home let us back up a Word doc as we worked inside of it.
The software comes with a number of clever features. Acronis Recovery Manager lets you boot your PC even if your operating system failed (just hit the F11 key during boot-up) from data stored in the Acronis Secure Zone, which saves a password-protected image of your system in a hidden partition on your hard drive. Try & Decide let us tinker with backup settings in a virtual environment that didn't affect our system settings. Boot-time Restore is a marvelous option that allowed us to work on our PC while files were being restored, and Drive Cleanser, File Shredder, and System Clean-up shreds sensitive data, or wipes your hard drive clean, if you so choose. While the average consumer may be a bit intimidated by the sheer number of options, if you're hunting for an extremely thorough backup package, this is the one for you.