Sometimes one tool is all you really need

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To clean & protect

Don't need a full suite? Sometimes all you want is the single best product for handling the system maintenance chore at hand. Here are some standalone utilities we tested, comparing them to similar modules in the larger suites.

Acronis True Image 8 ($50)

True Image is a complete hard-disk imaging and backup utility program for PC computers. It's comparable to Symantec's Norton Ghost and was designed so that in the event of a major system crash, the entire disk could be restored with minimal effort.

The imaging process is very fast. True Image can back up gigabytes in a matter of minutes. Recovery is equally fast, which is where it shines brighter than Ghost. Another bonus over Ghost is that True Image works with any version of Windows, while Ghost only works with Windows XP and 2000. This is a great piece of software, but it will cost you.

Acronis Inc., Herndon, Va., (877) 669-9749, www.acronis.com

Diskeeper 9.0 Professional ($50)

This is a standalone program built simply to defragment a hard drive. Windows already has this option built into the OS, however Diskeeper's selling point is that it does it faster and better than Windows. And the program delivers what it promises.

It defrags much faster than other programs we reviewed, and it does it in a way that allows one to continue working on the computer with minimal reduction in resources. Once defragged, you can set the system to continue to defrag at convenient times, such as when your screensaver is active.

The price for the professional edition is a little high for what it does. But there's a home version for $20 that could suit your needs.

Diskeeper Corp., Burbank, Calif., (818) 771-1600, www.diskeeper.comUndelete 5.0 Professional ($40)This program was built for people like my sister, who constantly deletes documents and e-mails, then realizes minutes later that she needs them.Undelete basically caches a copy of everything you delete, so you never lose anything again. This, however, could also be considered a problem. Because Undelete saves everything, it can take up a lot of disk space.Ideally, you install Undelete before you lose something, but it does come with an Emergency Undelete module that allows for recovery of programs lost before installation.Diskeeper Corp., Burbank, Calif., (818) 771-1600, www.diskeeper.com.

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