by September 17, 2001 0 comments

The Symantec Ghost 7.0 Enterprise Edition is a useful program for system administrators, as it saves them the hassle of restoring crashed systems to their original state. The latest version features support for software distribution, user-state migration, and incremental backup schedules. It works in two ways–either building an image file of data on a hard disk or partition, which can be restored later or cloning an entire hard disk or partition. Ghost also does a CRC check of the image while restoring for a more robust and error-free restoration. It can also create spanned or size-limited image files for CD-Rs or Zip Disks. It compresses image files at fast or high levels. We got a compression ratio of 1:1.3 and 1:1.6 respec-tively during our test.

The Ghost consists of three sets of tools–Symantec Ghost Console, Ghost Multicasting package and a stand-alone Ghost program. The last one lets you clone hard disks and partitions both locally or between two machines connected over USB or LPT ports. It only runs in true DOS mode (Windows 98 and below). For other OSs like Windows NT and Linux, you have to create a Ghost boot disk. We found the data transfer rates for a local partition-to-partition cloning and disk-to-disk cloning to be 58 MB/minute and 102 MB/minute respectively.

Symantec Ghost 7.0 Enterprise Edition
Price: Rs 2,100 for 10-24 licenses.
Features: OS restoration using multicasting; disk cloning; scheduled incremental backups over the network; user migration; software deployment
Pros: Easy to deploy OSs on multiple machines; fast image restore process;
Cons: Ghost Explorer doesn’t do automatic image updateContact: Symantec,
Tel: 022-6520658 Suite # 801, Sunteck Centrako, MMTC Building, C-22 Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (E), Mumbai.

The multicasting package loads an image file captured from a ‘source’, onto a number of ‘client’ computers simultaneously. However, you need a dedicated Ghost Multicast Server machine to control the session. Multicasting sessions can be scheduled to run at specified times or after a certain number of clients join a session. We tested this feature with a server and two clients; all having an Intel 8255x-based PCI Ethernet (10/100) card on a network running a DHCP server. Without compression, it transferred at a speed of 58 MB/minute. Ghost multicast server is also available for DOS and NetWare.

In the Ghost Console, one computer (Console) controls the backup and restoration of several computers (clients) for Windows-based clients. The console creates a ‘Ghost boot partition’ image and dumps it onto all clients through multicasting, overwriting their Windows boot partition and other data. Microsoft Sysprep with Ghost helps to deploy Windows 2000 image files on computers with different hardware setup. Finally, a tool called AIsnapshot records the applications installed on a model computer.

The Ghost Explorer lets you browse through an image file. You can also add and restore files and folders, to and from the image file. However, we wished it could also automatically update an image with the latest files (incremental backups). The Ghost manual is also very extensive. Overall, it’s a useful package.

Anand Sharma for PCQ Labs

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