Ghost has a restore feature which is also easy to use, much easier than other programs of its kind. Ghost Explorer is the special tool which comes with Ghost which extracts the image of the hard drive onto the new hard drive. This is done within Windows and not in DOS. When in the need of extracting a file or folder, Ghost Explorer looks inside the image to find the files that you are trying to find. Once you have found the file or folder that you want to transfer, all you need to do is drag and drop the file onto the new hard drive, which I think is very easy. Another nifty tool that comes with Ghost has nothing to do with backing up the hard drive, but partitions and formats you hard drive. Only use it if you know what partitioning of the hard drive means. The program that comes with Ghost is called GDisk, which is like an improved version of FDisk Overall, does what its supposed to do very well with no complaints whatsoever, but it can’t be used as an every day backup tool. There are other products which do the same job as Ghost but for every day backing up, and also at a lower price. Ghost doesn’t come with a free 30 day trial download like all other Symantec software, so you are not able to test the software before you buy it. Ghost is around £40 to buy which is a good price if you intend to use it often. This handy program makes a copy of your current hard drive very precisely so that you can then go and restore the information on to another hard drive. Also its useful if your computer hard drive goes bust and is not able to be used anymore. It is quite hard to use because everything has to be done in DOS, so don't buy it if you are intending to use the program for every day backing up as you would find it quite hard and time consuming, unless you are an expert on these stuff. Norton Ghost is supposed to make exact images of your hard drive for long term use and not for short term use. When you have programs running in t
he background, you can't backup everything on the hard drive, which is why the good thing of Ghost is that it comes with a special boot disk creator utility - in fact like any other boot disk - which boots your computer straight into DOS without having to go into Windows. Ghost creates the boot disk itself whilst installing the program onto your hard drive, this only has to be done once which is a relief because it can be quite annoying. The best thing about Ghost is that it can recover data very well, but each time you want to use it, you would have to restart your computer unlike many other programs which is something that many people would not want to do. When you want to backup something, you have to select to backup whole drives and not separate files or folders. You get to see one of Ghost’s best bits when you're making a copy of one computer to load onto another machine, or onto removable media such as CD-R’s. Ghost supports DOS, OS/2 and Linux along with Windows.
Norton Ghost seems to come in many different shapes and sizes at the moment – this review is actually on Norton Ghost 2001 but I shall mention the other versions and options available during the review. This review has been placed under backup software but Norton Ghost is much more than just that – although it is good as backup software as well! What Ghost is really good at is cloning (or imaging) PC’s. Imagine you work in a fairly large corporation that installs a number of identical PC’s each month but has to spend time on each one configuring them to a standard desktop. What Ghost allows you to do is create a standard image on one PC, image it and then put this image on all of the other machines. More on this later. As I said Ghost is also good at just imaging your machine so if totally fails you can just restore it totally from scratch. Ghost could also come up in handy if you run out of disk space. Imagine you have a 4GB disk at the moment and need to install a new 10GB disk into your PC. Just use Ghost to backup the current disk, replace your hard disk and then restore the Ghost image to your new hard disk. Firstly though a quick run through what operating systems Ghost actually runs on. The box states that Ghost runs on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT and 2000 although this isn’t entirely true. Firstly Ghost is really a DOS application and actually what really happens is you can create the boot disk required for it in a Windows environment. What this doesn’t also tell you is that Ghost will happily image a Linux machine also – as long as you boot from a DOS disk again. So how do you store your image? Well you can pretty store your image on anything that is large enough to save everything on your hard disk. Choices include everything from CD, Iomega Zip, Iomega Jazz to actually imaging to another computer. We shall look at these different options. The method I first used was with an Iomega Jazz u
nit. Basically you booted with a DOS disk, started the Jazz drivers and then ran Ghost and created the image to the Jazz disk. The Jazz disks are 1 or 2GB in size, which should be enough. The problem with Jazz is it can be a little slow – then again you can just set the process going and leave it for a couple of hours. Unless you intend to possibly span disks I would forget about using an Iomega Zip drive which has a maximum capacity of 250MB. I had to create the above disks manually as the application known as the ‘Norton Ghost Boot Wizard’ which runs within Windows and creates your boot disks did not have an option to create an Iomega boot disk – maybe I am just missing something? If you had a Linux machine by the way you would have to create your boot disks on a Windows based machine as I stated earlier. The next boot method I tried was creating a ‘CR-ROM Boot Disk’ from the boot wizard. This turned out to be a really useful option but only under certain circumstances. If you have a supported CD writer (quite a long list) this disk allows you to boot to DOS and write your image to CD – spanning CD’s if necessary. This is fine of course if you have a CD writer in your PC. If we go back to talking about PC’s in a corporation not many will. I did notice a little light at the end of that tunnel however, although I didn’t test it. One of the supported models was the Iomega ZipCD, which I believe is an external model. If this worked you could use this writer on multiple machines. The next option is to create a ‘Peer to Peer Network boot disk’. This allows you to connect two computers via a network cable. A number of network cards are supported including most new 3Com models in particular. The final option is to create a standard boot disk with ‘LPT and USB support’. With this option you can clone and image from one machine to another linked via either your LPT port (
your printer port) or USB port. Incidentally you may have wondered why Ghost is really a DOS based application. In truth it makes sense, as you couldn’t really run Ghost within a GUI operating system where a number of files are open and such forth. Ghost 2001 comes with one other Windows application known as the ‘Ghost Explorer’. This lets you look at the image files you have created an alter them. For instance you can choose to just restore a directory from the image. Finally as I said at the beginning of this review there are other copies of Ghost around. Before 2001 there was version 6.5 and before that version 6. If you can pick of one of these cheap they where also good products – check for all the features you require before buying however. The largest difference is with Ghost Enterprise edition. To confuse matters this seems to be called Ghost version 7. I am afraid a review of the enterprise edition is beyond the scope of this article. One feature it does include is called ‘Ghostwalker’. This allows you to clone Windows NT machines and then make them unique. Because of the way security works in Windows NT and Windows 2000 you should not use Ghost 2001 to make images you are going to put on other machines. I hope this review gives you a small insight into some of the possibilities available with Norton Ghost. I am sure I will find more information on Ghost the more I use it and I will add information on this if and when I discover it.