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Ghosting as a New Backup Method

An underappreciated backup and spyware Protection Method

News Introduction Recommended Links Recommended Papers Ghost 2003 menu options References Alternatives Using disk images to fight spyware
Windows Filesystems Recovery Filesystems Internals Direct Disk Editing Dual Boot Working with disk images Undeleting files Disk Repartitioning and Resizing of NTFS Using dual boot for recovery
Acronis True Image Unix dd command Restricted free versions of Acronis True Image Macrium Reflect FREE Edition R-Drive Image Active Boot Disk DriveImage XML Unix dd
Spyware Antispyware Tools  Disk Backup History Tips Humor Random Findings Etc

For the additional discussion of the history of Ghost and its capabilities see the article: Nikolai Bezroukov A Slightly Skeptical View on Ghost.

Since sector-by-sector image-based backup like classic Unix dd only copies raw data, usually backups made using this method have "all-or-nothing" property: without special drivers (loop back drivers) they cannot be used for the restoration of a single file or directory. But with loop back filesystem and/or special browsers they are extremely convenient. Creating an image of harddrive is a popular method for personal computer users. With modern software it can be much faster then using dd as dd does not distinguish free space on filesystem from occupied (which is actually also a strong point from the point of view of recovery :-)


That changes with invention of Ghost by Murray Haszard in 1995. The name Ghost originated as an acronym for "General Hardware-Oriented System Transfer". Original Ghost is a disks/partitions cloning program package written by New Zealand company Binary Research. Murray Haszard wrote Ghost in 1995. In was bought in 1998 and then destroyed around 2005-2006 Symantec. In 1996-2003 Ghost used to be the best disk Windows imaging program with almost a monopoly position on the marketplace.That's why in honor or the original New Zealand team we will call this class of programs ghosters and the process of creating disk image and restoring it with potential resizing ghosting. "

In appreciation of Murray Haszardachievement, we will call the class of programs that provide capabilities similar to original Ghost "ghosters".

The main breakthrough achieved by "ghosters" is that it can shrink/enlarge partitions as well as to mount a partition image as a logical drive. That means that it can recover a single file from within the image-based backup.

Ghosters provides unique capabilities that are far beyond the capabilities of Unix dd and similar sector-by-sector disk imaging tools:

Ghost essentially created this class of utilities and amazingly so far it survived the Symantec acquisition. First the scenario looks way too typical. Semantic bought Ghost and as the company did with many other popular program it acquired completely destroyed in in less then 10 years... Very sad but very typical for Symantec. Graveyard of programs destroyed by Symantec include Norton Commander, Norton Utilities, PC Tools, Xtree, Partition Image, Partition Magic and many other wonderful utilities. But then it revived the program and Ghost 15 still is alive as of June 2012.

Norton Ghost 2003, the last version of the classical DOS-based Ghost line was abandoned by Symantec (after acquisition of PowerQuest's Drive Image in late 2003).

All-in-all Ghost essentially created disk imaging software industry in Windows and became the fastest and the most versatile utility for copying disks and partitions. Similar to Unix dd but much more capable.

Ghost 2003 was the last of "classic" Ghost that Symantec bought. Newer versions are descendants or completely different product: a rebranded Drive Image, the product, Symantec acquired at the end of 2003 when it bought its competitor, PowerQuest. Ghost 2003 introduced several interesting features like support for Linux Ext2 filesystem as well as NTFS support; it largely eliminates the need for a boot disk. Also it lets you join two PCs via a USB, parallel, or network connection and then clone one to the other. CD also contains Norton's disk-wiping tool -- handy for destroying all data on a disk before reusing it.

For some time versions of Ghost after 2003 that were a disaster. Of cause Symantec incompetence with acquisitions is legendary, but here it looks like it reached the pinnacle. And like usual in such cases they realized that they did stupid thing but it was too late: seven years after Symantec run Ghost into the ground it tried to resurrect it using Windows Preboot Environment (Ghost 14 and 15).

Instead of DOS those Ghost 14 and 15 are based on WinPE. Because WinPE is based on the modern 32-bit Windows, it could use the same plug and play hardware drivers as Windows, making hardware support for Ghost much simpler. As the last version I used was Ghost 2003 I can't cover those versions but one reviewer mentioned that it prevented him from restoring the image to a different hardware (see B Wong Amazon Review). May be it is licensed to a single PC, not one user with multiple PCs. Which makes the product practically useless.

Win 7 Professional and Ultra has a built in back up recovery environment which are based on Microsoft virtual disk format used in Microsoft VM. They might be a better deal. Acronis True Image that I use now is definitely a better deal. And it has free versions for owners of Seagate and Western Digital hard drives. See Acronis True Image

The idea of using alternative OS for cloning Windows partitions was resurrected by PartImage on the base of Linux. Linux is definitely has less problems with recognizing modern devicesthen old good DOS but still is far from perfect. Acronis True Image implemented this idea with a custom stand alone loader. For any reader who value this functionality (and it is essential if you PC is not bootable) I strongly recommend to burn on CD and try PartImage with Knoppix.

For any reader who value the original Ghost idea of using a different OS to restore the image I strongly recommend to try PartImage with Knoppix or, if Knoppix does not recognize your graphic card with SystemRescueCd.

Excessive commercialization of Windows utilities preached by such firms as Symantec dictates annual updates and with no new ideas. Often those "stupid" updates gradually destroyed the appeal of the original program, especially if they reflect shifting priorities and architectural inaptness of Symantec brass. In case of Ghost it was Symantec addiction to acquisitions which droved the last nail into classic Ghost software coffin.

If you are using XP simply save your money and use either Norton 2003 (the last "classic" Ghost: but you need to check if you USB card is recognized if you use USB drive for backups), PartImage (via Knoppix) or MaxBlast. MaxBlast is free with Seagate and Maxtor drives version of Acronis True Image and is a very good alternative for those users who do not know Linux. It is fast, reliable and highly recommended free alternative.

Recently Norton Ghost (and Partimage) emerged as a powerful anti-spyware tool. See Softpanorama Strategy of Fighting Spyware. This is especially important for computers from vendors that does not supply "factory install image" on a special partition of the hard drive (HP and IBM PCs provide such partitions and a special software to restore them; Windows 7 commonly uses this method too).

Note: Disk image of C: partition makes a perfect backup solution for Windows OS: you can create a compressed image of the disk partition and then write it into USB drive each week or each day. In most cases "clean" compressed image of the boot drive can be written of USB stick and provides a quick method of laptop C: partitions restoration in business trips. For netbooks which have smaller footprint the current double layer DVD technology provides the possibility to write an image of C drive on a single double layer DVD.

During restore of the partition ghosters automatically adjust the restore process for disk parameters of the target disk, so within some reasonable range you can use a different size of partition or disk for a target than you used for the backup. This feature is extremely convenient for disk upgrades.

The leading free ghoster right now is limited-capabilities (only drives of particular manifacturer supported)version of Acronis True Image.

Those versions are free for those who have bought hard drives from respective vendor.

One of its features of Acronis is that it can make an exact duplicate (clone) of your existing drive or partition onto your new hard drive. The cloning facility supports FAT32 and NTFS partitions, among others. Besides cloning your hard drive, you can also make a backup image of the disk onto another hard drive, restore it and view and restore selected files. Acronis True Image is a Windows program. But like Ghost is allows you to create a bootable CD from which you can run it with almost the same capabilities as windows version. You can image, clone and restore your disks.

Typical Errors in using ghosters

Check the restoration process of you image if you own a laptop. Buy a second drive install it andtryh to restor image on it and boot from restored image. Do not expect hard drive last long: for laptops anybody who is using a drive that more then three years is taking excessive risk.. If you data are valuable you better replace it with a new drive. They are much cheaper then the cost of data recovery. See Slashdot Google Releases Paper on Disk Reliability

Check the restoration process of your image if you own a laptop.

Doing just backups, without running a test restored is the most common error users of "ghosters" commit. Buy a second drive install it and try to restore image on it and boot from restored image. Do not expect hard drive last long: for laptops anybody who is using a drive that more then three years is taking excessive risk. If you data are valuable you better replace it with a new drive. They are much cheaper then the cost of data recovery.

Notes on Ghost 2003

In case of dinosaurs like me who still use Ghost 2003 with Windows XP it is important to note that for restoration of the image you need to know registration number that is created during each installation of Ghost 2003. Ghost 2003 itself it not copy protected; also it works both for servers and workstation, the feat that Acronis True Image were never able to replicate (they want more money for the server and I can kind of understand them :-). You can avoid paying for the software if you buy Seagate or WD drive ;-).

You need to write down and save the registration number as without it image is useless. I recommend storing it with the image. You can also write create a floppy with Ghost and write it on CD/DVD as it will have the same installation number as Windows version you used to created the Ghost image.

In case you need to create a backup on CD/DVD the right way is to use Norton Ghost 2003 not some semi-debugged half-baked programs like Nero backup: with the latter you face real (I would repeat it -- real!!! ) risk not being able to restore the data (unless you perform testing beforehand).

Ghost 2003 was much better then many similar (often half-baked) commercial partition backup programs like partition backup option in Nero Backup. In the latter case you might be deeply disappointed if you have disks other then IDE when you need to restore the partition. I was ;-)

If you copied images to CD or DVD please write down the installation number on it so that you can restore it without problems. alternative is to include the copy of ghost executable itself on the CD or DVD (it is a stand alone program).

The speed of "ghosters" like original Ghost 2003, Maxblast (True Image), etc in disk-to-disk operation is really amazing:

For comparison to create a RAR archive for the 6G partition takes over an hour on the same computer.

As for RAR its non-competitiveness with Ghost for creation of partition and disk archives does not mean that RAR is useless and should be totally replaced with Norton Ghost. Quite an opposite, RAR can serve as a good complementary tool for Norton Ghost if its role is limited to creation of incremental backups. RAR also has an excellent integration with FAR and Total Commander. Both are excellent tools for complex cases of restoration of files from incremental backups.

You can burn the image directly to DVD. Ghost2003 (aka Ghost 8) supports many drives out of the box, but the speed is very slow (takes hours to burn 4G). Also with Ghost 2003 you can only use drives recognized by Ghost DOS image (and that's, for example, puts drives in laptop docking station generally out of the reach). With Norton 9 and 10 any CD/DVD drive that is recognized by Windows is OK.

Note: Norton Ghost 2003 is very slow for burning the image directly on DVD. If you want this functionality you need to upgrade to Norton Ghost 9 which can burn the image without rebooting to DOS and is much faster in burning the DVD.

That means that backup of image directly to DVD is a convenient option only for Norton Ghost 9 and 10. With Norton 2003 you need first to write disk (or partition) image to a file and then burn it using you regular CD/DVD burning program. That actually creates a possibility of storing several small images on one two layers DVD.

Anyway IMHO you should have enough extra drive space to store the image on the hard drive (IMHO with current desktop hard drives it's typical to have half drive empty; with laptop USB drive can be used) so that it can be later burned into DVD.

Notes on Ghost 9 and Ghost 10

Norton Ghost 2003 (Ghost 8) and earlier is unable to create image in Windows mode and needs to reboots to DOS. There is simply no option of creating image without booting into DOS. That creates a couple of difficult problems for solving which Ghost 9 can be more appropriate ( Ghost 2005 (Ghost 9) contains Ghost 2003 on the CD):

As Norton Ghost 9.0 review by PC Magazine stated:

When you need to restore, you start up from the bootable CD, built on Microsoft's Windows PE (Preinstallation Environment), which slowly but surely finds network drives from which to restore images.

The new version can also restore backup images created by earlier versions of both Ghost (thanks to the inclusion of Ghost 2003 in the package) and Drive Image. It retains Drive Image's ability to load a backup image as if it were a real drive with a drive letter. Ghost 9.0 runs only in Windows 2000 or XP, but Ghost 2003 can run under Windows 98, Me, and NT.

It is important to note that Norton Ghost 9 (2005) introduced the ability to create partition images without rebooting into DOS. That makes is closer to disk backup utility then previous versions of GHOST.

Ghost 9 is actually a completely new product, a derivative of Drive Image 7.0 that Symantec have bought. Original Norton Ghost was discontinued at version 8 (Norton Ghost 2003). Along with the ability to create "hot" backup images without booting into DOS it also added incremental and scheduled backups.

Version 9 of Norton Ghost (Norton Ghost 2005) is actually a rebranded Drive Image, a product originally developed by PowerQuest (Symantec purchased on PowerQuest Dec 05, 2003).

If you need a free program to perform ghosting of the drive and do not own Seagate/Maxtor brand (for which Maxblast can be used) you can try Driveimage XML (free software, XP only):

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives. The program allows you to:

Image creation uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe "hot images" even from drives currently in use.

For those who want to stick to commercial products and has Windows XP, Norton Ghost 10 can be bought for ~$10 or less on Amazon if the ability to create "hot" images is important for you (IMHO it is important mainly for laptop users). Still never install Symantec product before creating a backup by booting from CD and verifying that you can restore it on another drive: Symantec products are buggy and you take unnecessary risks.

Never install Symantec product before creating a backup by booting from CD and verifying that you can restore it on another drive: Symantec products are buggy and you take unnecessary risks.

It also makes sense to clean the drive before creating image by removing trash, unnecessary programs, temporary Internet Explorer files and old cookies.

Using ghosters for shrinking/extending partitions in Windows XP

For Windows XP which do not have native partition manipulation capabilities. Norton Ghost can be used for resizing partitions as it always restores the image using the size of target partition. For example I used it once to extend the size of C : partition on my old Dell C620 laptop. The laptop had a 30G drive that was split into three partitions:

  1. C: 12G(NTFS)
  2. D: 7G (FAT32)
  3. E: 9G (FAT32).

I did not have a version of Partition Magic that can do this trick. So I proceed using Ghost in the following way (please note that partition moving operations are pretty dangerous staff ):

  1. Backup all the drive (partitions C, D, and E) on USB drive using Norton Ghost one partition at a time
  2. Backup the whole drive into one image into USB drive (this will be the rescue image in case I mess something)
  3. Delete content of partition E: by quick reformat
  4. Create image of partition C on partition E: using Norton Ghost.
  5. Delete partition D using Windows XP disk manager
  6. Delete partition C and recreate it to the larger size 12+7=~19G using Windows install disk
  7. Restore the image of C partition from E: drive to newly created partition using Norton Ghost 2003 booted from floppy.

The whole operation took more then three hours and I probably would save some time by getting Partition Magic and using it, but still it shows that the same goal can be achieved with just Norton Ghost.

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[Jan 27, 2010] Symantec Norton Ghost 15.0 (1 PC)

My Norton ghost 15 report card, December 4, 2009
By B. Wong - See all my reviews
Backups get A+:

1. Backing up over network, high compression, custom drivers loading is easy to do. You will backup in style

2. Superior and useful utilities.

3. Every imaginable problem from the legendary Ghost 2003 is fixed and improved.

4. No more .gho format anymore. The current format so far has handled some large partition backups for me. Full 30GB partitions to high compression is a breeze.

Restores get C-:

1. Right away after a partition recover, you will get the message "Please insert the Recovery disk". It will say "Error EA730002: Cannot find the driver database directory". How does this error stay in the product? It is one confusing message for a successful recovery. The recovery disk is really just the ghost CD.

2. Then there is the staged recovery mystery. With 2 identical machines of the same hardware, I can only restore to the machine where I initially did the cold backups. I don't understand. This is ruining my confidence in the product. We are talking same motherboards, same versions, everything.

3. What other kind of hardware replacement will prevent my restores? Should I buy another backup product just in case?

My Honest Opinion:

Ghost 15 may be reading firmware serial numbers or other markings unique to that specific device. Similar to the way windows now recognizes the hardware it is installed on. Licensing agreements are now hard drive specific. Ex: In the Win EULA you agree not to install Win on additional drives. If your hard drive fails and you restore to a new drive, windows will shut down the same as if you bootlegged the OS onto another PC. Who knows if your problem is your OS or Ghost. If you only have a single user license for either or both products (Ghost and Your OS), restoring to another system (even if it's identical hardware) violates licensing agreements and may be getting auto disabled. Know and Respect licensing agreements and copyright laws.


If your computer dies and you replace it (in whole or in part), you need to be able to restore from a backup. The reviewer, B. Wong, set up a test to simulate such a scenario, and apparently Norton Ghost 15 failed. I'm not advocating use of the software to back up more computers than the license allows, but you need to be able to restore onto new hardware after a hardware failure (and to test backups to ensure they can be restored if/when the need arises). If Symantec has become so overzealous about preventing software piracy that their license agreements and/or validation mechanisms prevent legitimate use of the software -- that you might not be able to restore from your backups -- that's something potential customers need to know. Thanks to B. Wong for the review.

One PC not one user

By Paul123

Be aware that this product is for one PC not one user with multiple PCs. Purchased it for a new Windows 7 laptop. Ghost 14 will not work with Windows 7. I have Ghost 14 on a XP and Vista PCs works well. Ghost 15 does not seem to be much different. Recommend you upgrade to Ghost 15 if you have a Windows 7 PC otherwise stay with Ghost 14. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

Norton Ghost 15, December 15, 2009
By Anthony-tuong D. Nguyen (San Jose, CA United States)

Norton Ghost 14 does not work with Microsoft Windows 7, but Norton Ghost 15 does. I just upgrade to Ghost 15. If you have Windows 7 Ultimate, it has restored and backup software included and has the same capability like Ghost 15 except Ghost 15 allow you to restore to a larger hard drive without create new partition when the new hard drive is larger than old hard drive.

[Jan 27, 2010] Review Acronis True Image vs Symantec Ghost

While each program has certain unique features, the core functionality of both programs is essentially equal. However, True Image's overall functionality, reliability and UI are more robust and more understandable than Symantec Norton Ghost versions 9 or 10. Most importantly, in my experience, Symantec's Ghost versions 9 & 10 have proven to be unreliable and my experience with Ghost (really, all of Symantec) technical support has consistently been dreadful. I would still choose Acronis True Image over Ghost on functionality and presentation alone; however, on quality of support alone, I cannot and will not recommend any Symantec program.

Furthermore, Symantec has a long & sordid history of acquiring products or complete companies and then discontinuing the products. I would not be surprised if Ghost were treated similarly in the not-distant future. Partition Magic, which they also acquired from PowerQuest a couple of years back in release 8 has yet to be updated by Symantec. The fact that Symantec tech support/development has been unable to isolate the regular random corruption problems I have been experiencing across two releases of the product does not bode well for the future of the Ghost product, in my mind.

I have removed Symantec Ghost from my system. My recommendation and personal choice going forward for a disk-imaging program is Acronis True Image.

[Sep 18, 2008] Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008 - Boot Up CD, Fix Your Computer

In current version disk cloning feature is primitive. It cannot shrink or stretch size of the destination drive.

[Jul 18, 2007] Norton Ghost 12.0 is a phantom of its former self

... DriveImage software now became Ghost 9 and helped drive it to more respectability in advanced users and the enterprise. Now entering its umpteenth edition, shipping as 12.0, a bit misleading as it's not really the 12th iteration. This time it's the 2005 acquisition of Veritas to become a part of the fold and incorporated into Ghost with some of those suites.

Symantec decided to drop a release and skip a year, missing version 11 altogether. They did release the Norton Save & Restore during this time, a junior version of-sorts, built on Ghost technology and filling the gap in a way.

Absent from the recovery disc and sorry to dwell, is the feature to cold-image. As in take an image of the HDD or partitions without impacting the system by installing software. This is normally done through the boot CD provided. As to restore a whole OS, you need to boot to the recovery disc anyway.

It's a feature that has been missing-in-action and since Ghost 2003 (four editions ago). In saying that, there was a cheeky, undocumented way to do it in Ghost 10. All in all, it's a very useful tool and is sadly missing from 12.0, we still hunt around for it every time a new version of Ghost arrives.

For one, you could take an image of a dead system before you restore, obtaining valuable files to recover at your leisure. With that in mind, there's a new feature coming across from the LiveState recovery Veritas software that enables you to convert a Ghost 12 image into a virtual machine image. This would be excellent if doubled up with the cold-imaging function for use in corrupt system recovery.

We were told in our briefing by the Symantec Ghost product manager that this new software was able to restore previous images, so we tried just that. It failed to restore the Ghost 10 images or even recognize the old .gho images via the recovery disc. Not the best for legacy images then, even though two years does not equal legacy in our books.

Just a quick note on dual-boot systems and non-Windows file systems back-up and recovery. It's possible and supported within Ghost 12, just as long as it's hidden initially from the OS – it can be seen from Norton Ghost. We tried this and all seem to work rather pleasingly.

[Jul 7, 2007] Clone your hard drive with Ghost

Here is a short tutorial that will quickly explain how to use Ghost 2003 to clone your hard drive to another hard drive. This is very useful for someone that wants to install a larger hard drive but doesn't want to go through the effort of reinstalling the operating system and all of their programs. When you do this, your new disk should be the same size or larger than the original hard disk.

[Jul 7, 2007] PC Pro Product Reviews Symantec Norton Ghost 10

Backwards compatibility with version 8 and 9 format images is welcome, as is support for legacy PowerQuest Drive Image files. Unlike True Image, you can also back up to CD and DVD without the need for additional software, use Iomega Zip and Jaz and, at long last, both USB and FireWire drives are properly supported. There's also full integration with Maxtor's OneTouch system used on many of its external drives. As with True Image, there's even the ability to mount backup images as drives for easy data exploration.

Compared to True Image though, overall performance begins to look a little dated, and Ghost soon falls behind. A 10GB partition of mixed data took 25 minutes to produce a 7GB image - three minutes faster than True Image but a substantial 1.5GB larger. For restoration, Acronis took 24 minutes, against Ghost's 38 minutes. We also ran into trouble with our first image-restore test, because our external drive was assigned letter Z, the same letter used by the recovery CD for ms-ramdrive, causing a conflict. This isn't mentioned in the documentation or in Symantec's online support knowledge base, but was a common gripe in online forums.

The recovery CD is slow to boot too, taking three minutes in our tests, compared to just 30 seconds for the True Image equivalent. It won't let you create an image while using it either. This prevents the recovery of data not previously backed up from a crashed partition. True Image has no such limitations. You could achieve this by using the DOS-based Ghost 2003 CD that's included in the box, because Ghost 10 only supports Windows 2000 and XP, but that's a clumsy solution.

The biggest flaw that holds Ghost back is that it hasn't followed True Image by enabling the backup of individual files and folders, and thus isn't a true all-in-one backup tool. Instead, it's a complete image or nothing - apart from incremental backups, that is. Even here, though, it falls behind Acronis by not having an option for differential backups. Although there isn't much between the two on pricing, the value proposition is another thing altogether. For sheer number of features, flexibility and real-world performance, Ghost 10 fails to compete with True Image 9. As such, unless ease of use is paramount, we can't recommend it.

[Jul 7, 2007] PC World - True Image 9 Edges Past Norton Ghost 10\

The statement "When it comes to features and price, you can't beat True Image 9. But I give credit to Ghost 10 for making an esoteric task easier for new users." looks too strong. Symantec dis screw the product as it usually did with acquisitions but the core is still solid. Also Ghost 10 can be bought for less then $10.

Disk-imaging software lets you create sector-by-sector copies of hard-drive partitions, including boot information--so when disaster strikes, system recovery is a snap. Symantec and Acronis take different approaches to this crucial task in the latest updates of their disk-imaging applications. While Symantec's $70 Norton Ghost 10 focuses on improved usability, Acronis's $50 True Image 9 contains several new, must-have features.

Both programs perform the same basic functions of creating and restoring full and incremental images to hard drives, CDs, or DVDs. And the two apps simplify automating and scheduling those processes. But the shipping version of True Image 9 that I tested permits differential images, which Norton Ghost 10 does not. Whereas incremental backups include only the data that has changed since your last backup, differentials allow you to create a single file containing all of the changes that have occurred since your initial full backup. That way, you never have to restore a large number of small incremental images.

Equally useful is the new option to back up selected files and folders, which eliminates the need for a separate file-level backup program. Acronis has also added a Snap Restore function so you can work in Windows before you finish restoring an image--great if you're on deadline.

The biggest change in Norton Ghost 10 is the program's new interface, which does a nice job of guiding beginners through tasks while keeping various advanced options out of sight--but not out of reach.

However, Ghost 10 cannot create an image while operating from its extremely slow-booting installation/recovery CD. So if your system goes down, the utility can't create an image to help you recover any un-backed-up data stored on a crashed partition. Symantec does bundle the older Norton Ghost 2003 (included mainly for Windows 98 users), which can create an image while running from its CD. But True Image 9's recovery CD handles everything that its Windows application can, and that's a far better approach.

When it comes to features and price, you can't beat True Image 9. But I give credit to Ghost 10 for making an esoteric task easier for new users.

[Nov 14, 2006] What to do if data on laptop drive are lost due to drive corruption and image is almost a week old.

Q: I used two drives on my laptop (C610) one as system drive and the second as the drive with all my data (in the bay instead of CDW-DVD). I backup the second drive each Friday. This Thursday the drive started to behave strangely: first it start to write data very slowly and then stopped writing them at all. When i rebooted the laptop the drive stop to be recognized at all and start to generate strange clicking sound. What are my options? I put a lot of new information exactly this week including several important programs and to recreate them I will require another 40-50 hours overtime. I do not have this amount of time and the project is due soon. I am really desperate. Please help...

A: In all such case the drive usually start clicking on boot-up (click'o'death; has the sound).

The most reliable way to recover data is to use professional restore services it is important to minimize the psychological which is often more severe that data lass. That they are expensive and unless your information is worth several thousand dollars you probably should not use data recovery services (if data are worth that much you should not attempt to do anything yourself as each click increases the damage to the data; around 20% of the hard drives received by data recovery services are not recoverable due to excessive platter damage). Google is your friend and you can learn a lot about this problem by searching "IBM Travelstar click of death".

Outside paying recovery services your options are really limited. According to internet folklore sometimes cooling or even freezing the drive sometimes helps to revive it for a couple of minutes but in most cases that's it as the reason might be that magnetic substance is gone from the plate and no amount of freezing can change that.

Still this cannot hurt and according to enthusiasts you need to get an external USB enclosure, then slowly cooling the drive first on the lower shelf then up to the freezer (to avoid condensation, if this is possible at all). After 24 hours take either try to run it while it is still in freezer (need a long USB cable) or get it out with a couple of cool packs and try to power it up and read. Again this is mostly folklore...

In case drive is at least partially readable there is also a trial version of Dmitriy Primochenko's HDDREGENERATOR from

The best strategy in such situation is to keep long time perspective and try "don't sweet the small staff and its' all small staff". Don't overreact. View the situation from the point of view of one year later. This way you can protect yourself from many useless or even harmful steps people do after losing important data. I know cases when people in a frantic activity after the loss lost even more data.

Now about your options. As I mentioned they are few:

But the most important is to find a reliable way to avoid this situation in the future: you need to do daily incremental backup (Types of backups) and not only to USB drive like many users, but on DVD or CD too. Please remember that USB drive also can fall from the table or just fail. Like with laptop drives there is no guarantee...

Daily DVD or CD backups are some kind of guarantee. They are pretty reliable long term storage of your data and now are reasonably cheap to use one or even two a day. For most of us the daily working set of files is really small (5-10M). Windows XP Professional has free backup utility but it is limited and I recommend RAR. If you have Microsoft Services for Unix installed you can use tar and gzip or zip. Your mileage can vary. There are many good incremental backup programs both free and commercial (just do not buy them from Symantec's Save and Restore -- this is in essence rebranded Ghost and in comparison with Ghost 10, NSR is pretty backward, unreliable and very slow :-) Actually classic Microsoft command like utility xcopy can also be used to copy files to special folder and then burn them as it has option of copying the files that were modified today.

I know that information about such problems evaporates in a year or two but please switch to daily incremental backup in addition to weekly full backups. Our data are worth more then we usually assume and if you ever to hear that "click of death" coming from your drive, you'll be happy to know your most precious data are safe. This peace of mind worth quote a lot.

[Nov 14, 2006] Question from a reader about slow speed of Ghost backup

Q: Message: Thanks Dr Bezroukov, for your article about GHOST backup. I am currently using Ghost 2003 to back up my laptop (about 30GB of data) to an external IDE hard drive in a USB 2.0 case. The data transfer rate reported by the Ghost screen is 31MB per minute. The process is taking about 14 HOURS. Am I doing something wrong???

A: Looks like you are using USB 1.0 drivers. This can be due to the fact that your laptop has only USB 1.0 ports (many older laptops for example Dell C600 or C610 suffer from this).

In this case you need PCMCIA card with USB 2.0 (for example from Belkin, approximately $30 on Amazon; can be cheaper on eBay) ports to speed things up.

Also in Ghost during the dialog that asks about USB drivers you should specify USB 2.0 drivers in "Advanced options" dialog. This should be done each time as for some reason Norton ghost GUI does not remember previous setting.

[Jun 9, 2006] Question from a reader about "Lost image":

Q: i have experienced a problem with Norton ghost 2003 which i have tried many methods to solve.. i tried to backup my partitions. After image creation, i moved the image to another partition for storage purpose, but realize that when i use ghost explore, i cannot find the image i moved. i even moved the image back to the original partition to check, but the image still can't be found. pls help.. thanks.

A: There is a possibility to open any ghost image in Ghost explorer (File-Open), not only files from quick list in file menu. So if an image is not visible, then it probably no longer have the right extension (*.gho). You can try to view file in all files mode to see if this is the case. Also if you move an image from partition to another you need to remember that for large images (over 2G) it consists of several files. All files need to be moved.

Slashdot Symantec Sues Microsoft, May Delay Vista

"The interesting point here is XImage, which will likely replace ghost - the only symantec app that wasn't *total* crap yet..."

your point "d"

(Score:5, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @02:15AM (#15363620)

Hmm... Don't know if Microsoft has been in talks with Symantec, but as for steam rolling over them, I would very much say so (not saying it's necessarily a bad thing though):

What's left? Winfax? Nope. Already a basic fax client in windows (it sucks, but I can't say winfax is great either, and most people/businesses that still use faxes nowadays don't do it via PC either). Doubt they sell many licenses.

Oh, PCAnywhere! Well, terminal services/citrix ICA is what everyone and their dog seems to be using these days (and apps like VNC/radmin). I haven't seen someone using it in a LONG time - definitely NOT mainstream either.

What else? Partition magic? Bleh. Those who wanted it bought it while it was Powerquest's - and it doesn't even seem to be updated anymore (symantec's specialty seems to be driving products into the ground - like novell seemingly). Buggier than ever, sounds like everyone prefers acronis apps for this nowadays. ...and the list goes on. And their apps are getting a LOT more bothersome for their clients - especially the activation part. Someone I know bought NAV, only to discover it wouldn't let him activate it on 2 PCs or something (unlike the old version), and now it's not working anymore (plus pay for updates - getting too expensive, he moved to AVG too). And incredible bloat (NIS will bring a 2GHz PC to its knees), and countless bugs (we had tremendous problems with SAV at work, countless crashes, problems with office, you name it).

The only thing they seem to have left that's worth buying is their new acquisition, veritas products. But I'm sure they'll manage to make them suck too, and drive them into the ground like everything else.

It seems they're not improving anything, they'd be the LEAST innovative company I could think of, and their junk just keeps getting worse.

Perhaps Veritas licenses alone can't keep the company afloat (unsurprisingly), and they're looking for a ne business model ala SCO (litigation, to prevent a new/better/more secure OS, or plain extortion)

I'm sad to see many companies and products having been crushed by Microsoft over the years (OS/2, Corel stuff, you name it), but if there's one company I won't miss, it definitely is Symantec.

[May 2, 2006] Question from a reader: can't restore from an external Maxtor One Touch II USB hard drive

Q. I can't restore from an external Maxtor One Touch II USB hard drive to a Dell XPS 400. Norton Ghost v.10 is installed and I can create an image on the Maxtor USB hard drive but, with the Norton Ghost CD booted in recovery mode, the Maxtor cannot be located to recover from and technical support was without any fix. The drivers validation is ok with the recovery disk. Besides burning the backup file to a new partition on the internal hard drive or spanning DVDs, any fix appreciated.

A: You can try to create Norton 2003 bootable floppy, boot from it and see it if the drive is visible. If it is you can use Norton 2003 for creating images in the future.

As for the current image repartitioning of existing drive, creating FAT32 partition on it and copying image to it probably the most sensible option (you actually mentioned it). And this is not just a hour or so completely wasted: this partition can save you a lot of time in the future. It is always nice to have a FAT32 partition for your most valuable data and images as FAT32 recovery is much simpler that NTFS.

You can also install an additional IDE drive into DELL XPS 400 install Windows 98 on this drive, move image to it and then restore image from DOS boot disk mode. Windows 98 installation can be very helpful in many troubleshooting situations.

[Apr 15, 2006] Computer Power User Article - Symantec Norton Ghost 10.0 by Warren Ernst

... Ghost 10.0 seems nothing like earlier versions. This version (for Windows 2000/XP) makes creating whole-system backups painless and easy, not to mention almost totally automatic. This is as close to a RAID 1 (mirrored drive) emergency backup system as you can get in software.

GoBack is essentially a way to roll your system back to a known good configuration should you encounter computer problems, such as a virus or spyware. Ghost can do this, too, but Ghost can also take those images and store them on external or secondary hard drives, network storage, or burnable DVDs or CDs, allowing for a recovery from a bad hard drive. The recovery takes longer than with the DOS-based Ghost 2003 (included in the box for Windows 98/Me machines), but the Windows recovery console-based bootable recovery CD can connect to USB 2.0, FireWire, and network drives much more reliably. The recovery disc can restore older Ghost images, too.

Whereas Ghost 2003 had an interface only a techie could love, Ghost 10.0 shuns technical terms and employs wizards throughout. Want to schedule automatic backups at night with the files encrypted and stored on the LAN? Child's play.

How to obtain a copy of the Symantec Ghost or Norton Ghost manual

Click one of the following to download an electronic version of the Symantec Ghost or Norton Ghost manuals:

[Mar 4, 2006] Question from a Softpanorama reader: Restoring disk image to a larger hard drive

Q: Does Norton Ghost 2003 or new version 10 allow you to take your clone or image of your entire hard drive and restore that image (operating system, program applications, registry and all) to a new hard drive that is larger than your original drive?

I was planning to store my image in another computer on my network, and restore my clone to a new computer with a larger hard drive.

A: Yes, both Norton 2003 and Norton 10 supports this operation. For example let's assume that you have two 9G partition on a 20G drive. After you create the image of the whole drive, you can restore it into to a new 40G drive. In this case Norton Ghost will create two 18G partitions and restore data on them.

This way you can also repartition your existing drive if size of the existing partitions proved to be suboptimal. For example if you have 30G drive and partitioned it as 9G and 18G partitions with 9G partition allocated to C (bootable or system partition). then later when the size of your OS exceed 9G you can create two images, store them on a USB drive or on a networked computer. Then you can repartion the drive to say, 14G +14G partitioning scheme and restore images into new partitions from USB drive. this way you essentially add 5G to your C drive partition. Of course the partition that shrunk should have initially have enough free space so that data fit into a in smaller partition.

NewsForge An open source ghost story

This story began as a review of g4l, a Norton Ghost-type utility for Linux. But that's not how it ended up. Instead it's a story of two open source ghosts: g4u and g4l. As ghost stories go, this one is more sad than scary: the tale of a bastard son refusing to recognize his lineage, and of the resulting bad feelings on both sides of the dispute. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

Hubert Feyrer wrote g4u about six years ago. It's a NetBSD-based boot diskette similar in functionality to the popular Norton Ghost. G4u's name is shorthand for "Ghost for Unix."

Although Feyrer no longer has time to maintain the project -- he is now working on his Ph.D. dissertation -- it is still available for download on his Web site. I downloaded the CD ISO version and gave it try. It works just fine. I cloned a local partition on the same drive, after spending just a little time matching up the partitions as I knew them in Linux (hda1, hda2, hda3) with the names they are known by in BSD.

You can also clone entire drives, or backup to and restore from an FTP server. All in all, g4u is a very useful tool. Better yet, while it boots NetBSD, it can be used on drives and partitions containing all sorts of operating systems, from Windows, to OS/2, to Linux, to what-have-you.

The user interface is legacy command-line -- no pretty GUI, not even DOS- style colored menus. It's lean and mean, and it works. Feyrer licensed his gift to the world of free software using the BSD license, which requires nothing more than attribution of his work.

Years pass, g4l arrives

Early last year, Ghost for Linux appeared on freshmeat. The earliest versions of g4l bore a striking resemblance to g4u, but there was no attribution given Hubert Feyrer or g4u in the GPL-licensed Linux version.

The resemblance between the two projects was so striking that g4u's creator Hubert Feyrer felt compelled to perform a detailed analysis to demonstrate that g4l was based on g4u.

That analysis was apparently more than g4l's creator -- known only as nme -- could bear. He walked away from the project in a huff, saying of Feyrer that "He now wants to force me by law, to add his license and credits to the code I wrote. This is not acceptable for me, so I quit work on g4l. Because of certain people, programming isn't much fun anymore."

And quit he did, but the project did not die. This is an open source project, after all. A new maintainer named Frank Stephen stepped forward and took over.

It would have been a perfect time to heal the rift between g4u and g4l, but that was not to be. The new maintainer insisted -- against all the evidence -- that in his opinion, the original project had not been based on g4u. Besides, Stephen points out that (in his opinion) the project is so much different now than it was in the beginning that the whole issue is "old news."

Well-known Linux/free software advocate Rick Moen stepped up and wondered if Frank Stephen might just be nme behind a different name. Whether that is true or not, the two do share a certain aversion to giving Feyrer and g4u their due. Moen commented on the freshmeat project page:

I have no horse in this race, other than caring about the reputation for integrity of the Linux community, and it's extremely obvious to me that, your assertion notwithstanding, v0.12 blatantly copied Hubert Feyrer's work, illegally and dishonestly stripping his author credit. (Contrary to the assertions of some, fixing that wouldn't quite suffice, since G4L's GPL terms clash with Hubert's old-BSD licensing's advertising clause. G4L would have to include a license exception, to fix that additional glitch. Additionally, G4L would have to clarify that Hubert's terms, not GPL, apply to Hubert's work incorporated in G4L.)

An effort to heal the rift

Just when it looked as if there might not be a reasonable man within earshot of the g4l project, one stepped up. Michael Setzer II had made some modifications to g4l that he and other users needed. Since the project had an open upload policy at the time, he was able to make his version available to others. Both of the original authors, nme and Frank Stephen, eventually contacted Setzer, and gave him alone the ability to upload new releases to the project.

Probably the most important change Setzer has made was to finally give Hubert Feyrer and g4u some long overdue props. The opening screen for the current version of g4l now states:

Disclaimer concerning Copyright: Prior version(s) of g4l appear to have been based on G4U (Ghost for Unix) a NetBSD-based bootfloppy/CD-ROM by Hubert Feyrer ([email protected]) Copyright (C) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002,2004


The disclaimer continues with a history of the project, including its maintainers and releases since the beginning. You have to give Setzer credit -- he even included a link to Feyrer's code analysis page.

But although it is a big step forward, it's not what Feyrer would like to see. What he wants to see is for both licenses to be lived up to.

In response to an email query about the disclaimer he added to g4l, Setzer told me:

I was trying to come up with a compromise. At the time, I had no contact with either of the g4l authors, and I did get a nice response from the G4U author, but his reply basically said that he wanted the original stuff put in, and still had never even looked at the later code. Not being able to get resolution to the situation, I added the disclaimer, and basically leave it up to the users to decide. If they think there is an issue, don't use g4l. But I don't know enough on the issue to make a complete judgment.

Tainted code

Given the resolute refusal of g4l's original authors to credit 4gu as their starting point, that's probably as good as it's going to get. Setzer cannot speak for either of them, so he can't do as Feyrer wants. Feyrer, on the other hand, doesn't have the time to go through the latest version of g4l code to see what's left that was copied from his work.

In the end I'm left with the feeling that something has been stolen -- something intangible. One of the greatest benefits that comes to the authors of free software is the feeling that they have done something worthwhile for the benefit of all, and the ego gratification of seeing others extend the work. To see your work taken by others and then claimed as their own steals both the joy and the gratification.

As Isaac Newton is reputed to have said some 430 years ago, and open source people are fond of repeating because it so aptly describes the process, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" -- a noble sentiment that, at least until Setzer appeared, was not a part of this tale. Its absence has left an indelible mark of shame on the project.


  1. "g4u" -
  2. "Norton Ghost" -
  3. "Ghost for Linux" -
  4. "detailed analysis" -

Norton Ghost 9.0 review by PC Magazine

Norton Ghost 9.0 is based in large part on PowerQuest's Drive Image, which Symantec acquired in late 2003. Norton Ghost shines at full-system recovery, and with its new incremental image feature, it becomes viable for single-file and folder restores as well.

Ghost can create backup images of your entire hard drive to local storage, network drives, and optical discs (including DVDs), so you'll be certain that every bit of information is copied without fail. Norton handled media spanning flawlessly; Acronis does not support DVD writing.

The new incremental feature lets you create a baseline image, and then smaller incremental images moving forward, typically multiple times per day. Full images can take a long time to complete and can slow down your foreground operations (if you're invoking a backup before installing something new, for instance). We measured a 30 percent CPU drain during the full imaging, but incremental are fast. If you need to restore a file or folder from a full or incremental image, the Symantec Backup Image Browser lets you view and extract individual files and folders from your images.

We found it a bit inconvenient to have to choose the image to restore from first. We would prefer to choose the file first, and then be presented with a list of restore points. Also, the interface would be more helpful if it presented links to common file storage areas like the My Documents folder and the desktop.

Norton Ghost 9.0 is easy enough for anyone to use and provides an outstanding level of protection for your system. Those considering Norton Ghost might find Symantec's Norton SystemWorks 2005 Premier ($99.95 list), which includes Ghost, GoBack, and other useful utilities, a good value

[July 21, 2005] Discounted Norton Ghost half-year update :-)

[Dec 4, 2004] Software Norton SystemWorks 2005 [AntiVirus, Utilities, GoBack, Check IT] Free from Amazon $60-$60 rebate =$0. Limited time offer.

Includes: Norton AntiVirus, Norton Utilities, and Norton GoBack! Also provides CheckIt Diagnostics, System Optimizer, and additional problem-solving tools. - Acronis Revs True Image In my informal tests, Ghost 9 imaged a 3.2GB partition in 1 minute, 25 seconds, generating a 1.4GB image file. My shipping copy of True Image 8 completed an image of the same file in 2 minutes, 42 seconds, but it produced a smaller, 1.2GB file. (True Image 7 took 5 minutes, 34 seconds, making a 2.5GB file.)

The new Acronis True Image 8 feels more like a maintenance release than a major upgrade over version 7. It does, however, boost the backup application's performance to levels comparable to those of Symantec's recently launched (and quite speedy) Norton Ghost 9.

Both programs create sector-by-sector snapshots of your hard drive for easy recovery after a system crash; but in tests conducted for our recent review of Ghost 9, it performed dramatically faster than True Image 7 did, producing smaller images. Like Ghost 9, True Image 8 skips the re-creatable swap and hibernation files, yielding similar speeds and even smaller image sizes.

In my informal tests, Ghost 9 imaged a 3.2GB partition in 1 minute, 25 seconds, generating a 1.4GB image file. My shipping copy of True Image 8 completed an image of the same file in 2 minutes, 42 seconds, but it produced a smaller, 1.2GB file. (True Image 7 took 5 minutes, 34 seconds, making a 2.5GB file.)

Though Ghost 9 is speedier at creating images, True Image 8 is much faster at booting from the recovery disc. In my tests, Ghost 9 took a whopping 2 minutes, 25 seconds to launch, while True Image 8 took only around 15 seconds.

New tweaks in True Image 8 enable you to verify images before restoring them; and like version 7, version 8 can create incremental backups.

True Image 8 enjoys some clear advantages over Ghost 9. It works with any version of Windows (Ghost 9 works only with XP and 2000), it doesn't depend on Microsoft's .Net framework the way its competitor does, and its full version is $20 less expensive.

The worst drawback of True Image 8: Owners of previous versions have to pay $30 for this decidedly minor upgrade.

That said, if you're looking for a solid-performing, reasonably priced drive-imaging application, Acronis's latest True Image is a good choice.

[Dec 3, 2004] The FreeBSD Diary -- Disk cloning with Acronis True Image

I was chatting to people on IRC about my hardware failure. I mentioned I planned to ghost the disk ("ghost" being a synonym for clone, derived, I expect from Norton Ghost, a well respected disk cloning application).

Cloning an XP disk is not as simple as it sounds. During my googling, I found a few references to id generation. That is, XP keeps an ID somewhere on the drive and this ID has to be reset when cloning the disk. The references indicated that commercial products such as Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image can reset this ID appropriately. A straight dd won't do that.

My experience supports that idea, but I have no proof. I may be encountering some other problem. I found that Acronis True Image did what I wanted. Using dd failed. Mind you, I'm now unable to boot from the original system drive. I don't know why. Perhaps it has been corrupted during the process. I suspect that is why I didn't get dd to work. Read on!

Disk Cloning with Acronis True Image

I expected that installing RAID under XP would be the most challenging. It was actually straight forward. I installed a 3Ware card, hooked up the drives, and pressed ALT-3 when presented with that option during the booting process. I configured the disks for RAID-1 (mirror).

The difficult part was to clone the existing XP boot drive into the RAID array. A hardware RAID array looks exactly like a single drive to the operating system. That should simplify things.

The cloning software I chose was recommended by someone in the Bacula IRC channel. They mentioned Acronis True Image 8.0 by Acronis. This product has a free trial version which lasts for 15 days. I tried it. It worked. I cannot tell the difference between the original drive and the RAID array. Acronis True Image has a nice little Wizard which guides you through the cloning process. I will not go into detail.

... ... ...

I have great words to say about Acronis True Image 8.0. I looked at using Norton Ghost. Actually, I bought Norton Ghost, but will be returning it unopened. The advantage I see in using Acronis True Image is price and download. Acronis True Image costs less than Norton Ghost and you can download it.

[Dec 2, 2004] Ghost Image How to Create a Ghost Image

See How to Create a Ghost Boot Disk if needed.

Complete the following steps on the Ghost server ( Login with your Gatorlink username and password.

  1. Run GhostSrv.exe C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\GhostSrv.exe
  2. Enter a session name
  3. Select "Create Image"
  4. Enter a descriptive Image File name. The format is modelName-OS-validInfo

    Example: For a Dell GX260 running Windows 2000 with the Novell client installed an appropriate name would be GX260-win2k-client.gho

  5. Click on "Accept Clients"

Complete the remaining steps on the workstation from which you are creating the image.

  1. Use the Ghost Boot disk to boot up the computer.
  2. When the program starts, select GhostCast and then Unicast from the menu.
  3. Enter the session name you chose when starting GhostSrv.exe
  4. Specifiy the ip address as the ip address of the machine running GhostSrv.exe
  5. Hit OK.
  6. Select "High Compression" and "Proceed with Disk Image"
  7. When completed, remove the floppy and reset the computer.

[Dec 2, 2004] Corrupt Ghost Images Norton Symantec Data Recovery Drive Image SWStars

Southwest Stars {} is the key to unlocking the door into the other side of your PC. You can only go so far. Let our data recovery experts help you reload Norton Ghost images.

Corrupt Norton Ghost images, found under many circumstances, are usually influenced by one of the following three factors:

Here at Southwest Stars, our specialty is data recovery from any type of operating system, platform, or media. Our data recovery experts handle virtually any request, including retrieving information from corrupt Norton Ghost files, hard drive crashes, corrupt drive images, corrupt ghost drive images, damaged media, virus attacks, recovery file, disk recovery, recover deleted file, hard drive data recovery, hard drive crash, exchange server recovery, and flash cards.

[Nov 15, 2004] Norton Ghost 9.0 Personal Symantec Recovery Disk lets you restore data from a backup image even when the computer can't start up into Windows.

[Nov 15, 2004] Symantec - Norton Ghost 2003 tutorial

Norton Ghost 2003 Product Review

Earlier this year in their January issue, PC World published a short but decidedly negative review of Norton Ghost 2003. Sadly, after testing this newest version of Symantec's renowned backup / disk imaging program, I have to concur.

Norton Ghost 2003 promises a lot, but for me and many others, it failed to deliver anything but trouble. Those are difficult words for me to utter, as I am a long-time fan of Symantec products and a successful user of Norton Ghost 2002, which I recommend in my latest book, PC Fear Factor.

First, the positive news about NG 2003. This latest version of Ghost has many great new features, including a Windows based user interface for launching backups (to replace the DOS user interface), support for more internal CD writers, support for some USB and firewire CD writers, and support for some DVD writers. The user can now set a password on his hard disk backup without having to run Ghost using a command line switch, a task that would vex most mortal PC users. In addition, the product comes with some truly outstanding interactive tutorials that help compensate for the (still) Einsteinian product documentation. Customer Reviews Software Norton Ghost 2003

Reviewer: A software user from not Moscow, Russia

If like me you are somewhat perplexed by the erratic reviews that this and other 'disk imaging' utilities receive, both here and on (always a useful source of opinion…), then hopefully this one may help.

I'd used Ghost 2002 extensively and agree that it was far from user friendly, especially for the novice. I was forced to upgrade because it supports XP's NTFS.

Although I'm an experienced PC user, I probably only utilize ~10% of the product's capabilities, i.e. I simply want a complete backup image of my main hard drive for fast recovery purposes. Whilst the product claims to backup directly to CD/DVD, my experience with this method has been problematic and is probably related to the painfully slow burning process rather than Ghost itself, but do first check your drive for compatibility against Norton's database. Instead, I back up by first creating images on another hard drive (or partition, space permitting) and then burning those to CD using XP or Nero. [Tip: using the '-split=700' command, a large drive can be saved into multiple 700 MB images for later burning if required].

The 2003 upgrade is a definite improvement on its predecessor with a much friendlier user interface and backup/restore capability from within Windows. Whilst my backup method may not be acceptable to everyone, it works reliably and that'll do me.

Norton Ghost 2003 user reviews - Norton Ghost 2003 user opinions - Backup and recovery - CNET Reviews

It is better than those recovery cds that come with your computer"

Sam on 25-Sep-2004 08:50:44 PM

Pros: This is an excellent product. I obtained a Ghost software cd with an external USB hard drive that I had bought and I'm glad that it came with it. Using those recovery cds that came with my computer took about an hour to install, whereas; Ghost fully restores my system in as a little under than 10 minutes. That is using USB 2.0. Another good thing about Ghost is that it restores all your documents, settings, and tweaks. You'll have your computer back to what it was before some disaster.

Cons: Doesn't work with a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card.

RAID killer" Mark McGinty on 22-Sep-2004 08:20:47 AM

Pros: The damage is does is repairable, if you know what you're doing. (It really ought to display a big banner when you install that says "NO RAID". I usually don't read the help until I have a problem, but for this that's way too late.)

Cons: Irresponsibly alters the MBR and boot record, without making sure it can put them back. I didn't find out that RAID was unsupported until *after* it rendered my machine unbootable. Nice! But, as opposed to all of the other accounts I've read, I merely booted the recovery console (no ASR disk), ran FIXBOOT to make the ghost partition NT bootable, copied NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM, and BOOT.INI, and then booted XP from ghost's twisted little partition. Then I used PartitionEdit to remove the BS partition and flag the original one active. Yes I was down for a few hours, yes it was frightening, but thanks to my investments into a laptop, USB floppy, and substantial skill set, it was not a catastrophe, I didn't lose a single file. Still it was an ugly incident, why couldn't it offer the option of a test, to make sure it can write to the drive under DOS, before it alters it in Windows? The boot loader will support booting DOS, why not use it, so worst case the user can still boot his/her O/S? It seems so simple!

T on 01-Sep-2004 11:41:03 AM

Pros: Does what it's suppose to. Image a drive. Great User Guide that covers everthing. Didn't run into any problems like those other people who complain about it. Just read the guide.

Cons: The DOS interface is a little hard to use but if you take the time to look at the user guide, you'll understand it. The GDisk feature is rather weak in my opinion and clunky to use with the DOS command.

[Oct 21, 2000] Signal Ground: Stupid dd Tricks (or, Why We Didn't buy Norton Ghost)

"The company that employs Tom and me builds big pieces of food processing machinery that cost upwards of $400K. Each machine includes an embedded PCs running -- and I cringe -- NT 4. While the company's legacy currently dictates NT, those of us at the lower levels of the totem pole work to wedge Linux in wherever we can. What follows is a short story of a successful insertion that turned out to be (gasp!) financially beneficial to the company, too."

"...Ghost works well; it does exactly what we wanted it to. You boot off of a floppy (while the image medium is in another drive), and Ghost does the rest. The problem lies in Ghost's licensing. If you want to install in a situation like ours, you have to purchase a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) license from Symantec. And, every time you create a drive, you have to pay them about 17 dollars. When you also figure in the time needed to keep track of those licenses, that adds up in a hurry."

"It finally occurred to me that we could use Linux and a couple of simple tools (dd, gzip, and a shell script) to do the same thing as Ghost -- at least as far as our purposes go. ... The Results? We showed our little program to management, and they were impressed. We were able to create disk images almost as quickly as Norton Ghost, and we did it all in an afternoon using entirely free software. The rest is history."

Recommended Links

Google matched content

Softpanorama Recommended

Top articles


See also Norton Ghost: Recommended Papers

Ghost (software) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Norton Ghost Product Overview - Symantec Corp.

Symantec Support - Norton Ghost 9.0

Symantec Ghost Tutorials

**** Radified Guide to Norton Ghost by Symantec A Tutorial on How to Create and Restore Ghost Images

New version: 02.august.2004 - Symantec announces the release of Ghost v9.0. Ghost 9 is controversial, because it's not really Ghost. It's actually Drive Image, a similar imaging/cloning product originally developed by PowerQuest, a company Symantec purchased on 05.dec.2003.

The reason Ghost 9 (Drive Image in disguise) is controversial is because it supports a feature Symantec calls 'Hot Imaging', which allows you to to create images of/from a 'LIVE' operating system, while files are able to change. Hot imaging might sound attractive to the casual user, but it comes with hidden risks that concern many veterans of the program.

NOTE: To keep this introduction uncluttered, the remainder of this discussion on Norton Ghost v9.0 continues on its own page:> Norton Ghost v9.0 + hot imaging. I recommend you take a look. At the bottom of that page is a link that will bring you back here.

If you have no idea what an imaging/cloning program does or how it works, you should first read the Program Introduction. Then come back here & read the ditty on Ghost 9 & Hot-imaging.

Soulmaniacs - Ghost Tutorial

Bitbender Forums - Making an image of your hard disk using Norton Ghost

[PDF] How to clone a Windows NT Gates PC using Norton Ghost 2002

Utopia Tech - A Guide To Ghosting

Symantec Ghost Parition-Image Backup Basics and Ghost Backup Introduction-Linwei Technology

Norton Ghost 2001


Symantec documentation

Discounted Norton Ghost
(July 2005 update)

[July 21, 2005] Discounted Norton Ghost half-year update :-)

Ghost 2003 menu choices

Ghost Advanced

New features in Norton Ghost 2003:

Random Findings

Online system disk backup, disk imaging, disk cloning, and bare metal restore solution

The complete disk imaging, system disk backup, and bare metal restore for workstations and home PCs

Acronis True Image allows you to create an exact disk image for complete system backup and disk cloning providing the most comprehensive data protection.

The disk backup file contains the exact copy of a hard disk, including all the computer data, operating system, and programs.

After a system crash you can restore the entire system or simply replace lost files and folders from your disk backup.

Based on the exclusive Acronis Drive Snapshot disk imaging technology, Acronis True Image allows you to create an online system disk backup without reboot to keep the system productive. The product provides the fastest bare metal restore dramatically reducing a downtime and your IT costs.

Acronis True Image 8.0 Corporate Workstation, the system disk backup, disk imaging, and bare metal restore for workstations



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Last modified: March 12, 2019