by April 3, 2003 0 comments

Aimed at individuals and small offices, Norton Ghost 2003 creates accurate backups and clones of full hard disks or partitions with ease. There are a few added features, like support for writing the image file directly to CD/DVD, support for FireWire and USB (1.1, 2.0) devices and support for backup, restore and cloning of IDE devices larger than 128 GB. It has better support for NTFS as compared to previous versions and we could successfully backup and restore a full system running Win 2000 server.

There is the welcome ability to backup ext2 file systems for Linux-based machines, but there are a few issues with recovery of the same. We were able to successfully backup and recover a dual boot system loading PCQLinux 7.1 and Win 98 on the same hard disk. However, when we used a different hard disk on the same system, the recovery didn’t fully work, though the partitions were created by proportionate allocation. 

The Ghost’s interface is intuitive and wizards-based. However, there are no scheduling capabilities in the software. These are highly desirable as users can then leave the task of backing up their system to the software, rather than by reminding themselves about the impending doom that a crash could bring. 

The Windows-based interface initiates Norton Ghost tasks (backup/recovery/integrity check) that are executed in PC-DOS, and involve multiple reboots. In a disaster situation, however, like when Windows will not boot at all, the DOS-based boot disks speed up the process of recovery as Windows does not have to be loaded first. The software also includes a few DOS-based utilities like gdisk and ghostwalker. Gdisk is a command-line based disk partition manager. In addition to fdisk’s functions of managing partitions, it can reset the Master Boot Record and format the partitions in Fat16, 32 and NTFS file systems. It’s totally command-line based, and has lots of command-line switches to learn.

The other utility ‘Ghostwalker’ is meant for a scenario where a network runs multiple clones of a single Windows installation using Ghost images. In this situation, each machine will carry the same NetBIOS name and/or Security Identifier (SID on Windows 2000/XP systems), and hence cannot be uniquely identified. Ghostwalker allows altering the name and the SID of the machines. This utility is DOS-based with command-line switches and is not Microsoft-endorsed. It may be best to use Windows itself to change the computer name and SID as Ghostwalker does not provide a very compelling reason to. 

You can select compression levels from high, low and none. High compression takes up more processing power and, therefore, takes longer to create Ghost images. Another thing to remember about Norton Ghost is that the images it creates will work only on identical hardware. During our tests writing Norton Ghost images directly on a CD-R, it took about 15 min and one 700 MB CD-R to backup a 4 GB NTFS Win 2000 Server system with 762 MB data at high compression. The restore took about 5 mins. It was nice to see the system up and running so fast just after a full format. Incidentally, if you create the image file on a CD/DVD, you don’t need to create a boot-disk to recover from a disaster-situation. This is a good feature indeed. Also, large disk images can be spanned across multiple discs. 


Price Rs 2,632
: Clones Windows-based systems and creates disk/partition images that can be used to restore a system
Cons : Intuitive lean GUI, can write directly to USB 1.0, 2.0, FireWire CD/DVD devices, supports Ext3 file system
Pros : All DOS-based, no scheduling capabilities
Contact : Symatec, Mumbai
Tel : 26570658

One wise precaution to take would be to carry out an Image Integrity Check before putting the discs to actual use as, after all, when things go wrong, the better prepared are better rescued. 

The Bottom Line Given the new abilities of Ghost to create bootable CDs of a PC’s image directly to an external USB or FireWire CD-Writer, and its ability to backup Linux file systems, the product is a worthy investment.

Shruti Pareek

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