Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 is the best inexpensive drive-imaging and backup program we've seen.
While the thought of a session with a drive imaging program may not be the dreamiest of propositions, the potential alternative is positively nightmarish. So you'd be well advised to snap up a good imaging program and spend an afternoon ensuring that, regardless of what befalls your PC, at least you've got a reliable copy of your hard drive and can have your old system files up and running within minutes.
Backup isn't so bad
Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 is the best inexpensive drive-imaging and backup program we've seen, and Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 has just had a Vista-compatible version released.
Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 is simple to use, and we preferred it to Norton Save & Restore. It's so well designed that it poses serious competition to higher-end imaging apps such as Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image.
Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 can create full and incremental backup images, and back up from within Windows. Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 gives you the option of creating a small hidden partition (a ‘backup capsule') that you can back up to and restore from; all the application is missing is the ability to back up individual files and folders, a feature that Save & Restore and other top programs possess.
We especially liked Paragon Drive Backup 8.5's tabbed main interface, which provides same-window access to tasks, volumes, created images and help. And while Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 doesn't offer the same walk-throughs as Save & Restore, it provides a way to schedule backups with the Windows Scheduler. Paragon Drive Backup 8.5's interface is more suited for intermediate to advanced users who like to see their options.
Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 creates a CD that you can boot from to create and restore images outside the Windows environment (Save & Restore's boot CD is restore only). The Professional Edition adds support for Windows dynamic disks (hard-to-back-up partitions that span multiple disks) and advanced network features.