Acronis Disk Director 12, First Take: Windows 8.x, UEFI support

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Acronis has released a new version of its disk and data management utility, Disk Director 12, adding support for Windows 8/8.1 plus compatibility with computers using UEFI (the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). A much-needed update, this release finally enables the product to handle the latest hardware and software platforms, many of which have been around for some time. However, it remains a specialist tool and not something everyone will want or need.

Disk Director 12 provides a clean user interface and up-to-date disk management tools. Image: Acronis

In terms of the user interface, nothing much changes in Disk Director 12, with the same clear and usable GUI showing the disks found in the host PC, how they are formatted, the amount of free space available, current status and so on. You can then click on a disk and choose from a list of tools to, for example, change the partition type or cluster size as well as resize, move or copy a volume and move data between partitions without losing files.

Another plus is extensive file system support, enabling Disk Director to work with both Windows and Linux disk formats, old and new. Disk Director 12 also features an enhanced Recovery Expert wizard to step you through the recovery of deleted volumes, and another to create a bootable disk with selected Acronis tools installed.

Well-written help and documentation is at hand throughout, but you do need an understanding of how disk partitions work, the terminology employed and so on. Moreover, it's easy to get things wrong, which begs the question as to who this product is really aimed at.

For enthusiasts and IT departments

As highlighted in the Acronis press release, most PCs now ship with a single hard disk and just one partition, which means Disk Director could be used to create additional partitions to protect data from operating system bugs and malware infections. But few users are likely to want to mess about with their disks in this manner, and even fewer shell out £34.95 (inc. VAT)/$49.99 for the privilege — especially as USB disks can be had for about the same money and are a lot easier to use.

Of course there are plenty of enthusiasts with the know-how needed to make use of Disk Director, and existing users who will appreciate the extended OS and platform support. Upgrades are available for £19.95 (inc. VAT)/$29.99.

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The principal market, however, has to be IT support departments, particularly those in companies already using Disk Director or other complementary Acronis applications. An incentive here is the trusted Acronis brand and products that are known to work — something that can't always be said of alternatives. However, there are a couple of small niggles, including the need for a licence for each PC on which Disk Director is installed. Two if used on a dual-boot computer.

Furthermore, Disk Director 12 Advanced edition for business workstations and servers, including those with RAID storage, won't be available until later this year, which is disappointing. However, customers purchasing the current product in the meantime will be able to upgrade for free when it does eventually ship.