Perfect Image isn't as well known as some other backup utilities, but since it's reached version 11, it has obviously been around for a while. Perfect Image itself is designed primarily as a system backup tool, but it has been bundled with AutoSave 2, a utility which automatically makes a backup whenever a file is saved. The bundle has been increased in the Copy and Protect Suite, to include Disk Copy and Clean, a separate application which handles hard drive migration, partitioning and secure cleaning of old drives.
Unlike several other system backup utilities, Perfect Image can take a backup without having to restart your PC, load a proprietary operating system - usually a variant of Linux or an early DOS-clone - and copy from there. This software can take a complete copy of your current partition from within Windows.
All the standard backup destinations are available, so you can copy to a CD, DVD, external hard drive or a network drive on a different PC. Additionally, though, you can backup to a special Backup Partition on your current hard drive. While this may seem advantageous, if you lose the ability to read your main hard drive, having your backup on the same platters may not be such a good idea.
While setting a backup of all documents or all pictures is straightforward, customising a backup is not as simple as it might be. If you want to back up a specific file or folder, things like defining the destination of the copy are awkward, as the program uses the drive defined in the main AutoSave settings, rather than offering a setting within the custom backup Wizard. It doesn't save the custom settings in case you want to repeat the backup, either.
The system backup interface is much easier to use, though again setting up a custom backup is hidden away. Backup speed is very good, the fastest in the group, with our sample 1GB file basket backing up in 1 minute 9 seconds to an external, USB 2 hard drive.
There are a couple of features in Perfect Image 11 which are not found in its main competitors. The AutoSave function, which takes a secondary backup of every file you save, is a handy safety feature and the ability to create a secure Backup Partition on your current drive may be useful on high capacity drives. A bit of work on the custom backup interface would be a benefit, though.