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Norton Ghost 2002

Norton Ghost 2002, from Symantec, duplicates a disk drive accurately, making it ideal for restoring your entire working environment if your hard drive bites the dust. It's also useful for migrating to a different computer because you can copy everything from the old machine to the new. But because it's difficult to use, Ghost isn't ideal for ordinary day-to-day backups or home use. Choose GoBack instead for that.
Written by Bruce Kratofil, Contributor on
norton-ghost-2002-thumb.jpg
5.0/10

Norton Ghost 2002

OK
Pros
  • Good recovery from a disaster a way to migrate to another hard drive.
Cons
  • Relatively expensive given its limited functionality requires booting to DOS to use it can only do a full disk image (not for regular data backup) won't write to USB-connected CD-R/RW.
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Norton Ghost 2002, from Symantec, duplicates a disk drive accurately, making it ideal for restoring your entire working environment if your hard drive bites the dust. It's also useful for migrating to a different computer because you can copy everything from the old machine to the new. But because it's difficult to use, Ghost isn't ideal for ordinary day-to-day backups or home use. Choose GoBack instead for that.

Although many Symantec products are available as free downloads for a 30-day trial period, Norton Ghost is not one of them. The boxed and downloadable versions sell for £33.96 and £39 (ex. VAT) respectively, so before you invest in Ghost and if you plan to use it with a CD-R/RW drive, check out Norton's compatibility list first. Note that Ghost will not work with CD-R/RW drives that are connected via a USB cable.

Ghost is designed to make exact images of your hard drive, but not for everyday backups. Since you normally can't back up open files, such as the Windows Registry, you can't make an exact disk image while Windows is running. Ghost works around this by using a special boot disk -- a floppy disk that you insert in the drive before starting your computer that boots your computer straight into DOS, bypassing Windows. Thus, the first step in the Ghost configuration process makes the boot disk -- which is a pain. Thankfully, you need to do this only once.

Although Ghost is good for disaster recovery, it's not something you need every day. You'll have to reboot your computer in order to use Ghost, which is not the case with Retrospect, NovaBackup, Simple Backup or GoBack. And with Ghost, you select whole drives, not individual folders or files, so your backups result in much larger backup files with Ghost than with these other products.

Ghost's true usefulness shines when you're making a copy of one computer to load onto another machine, another drive on the same computer, or onto removable media such as CD-R/RWs. It also supports DOS, OS/2 and Linux in addition to Windows -- more operating system options than the other products reviewed.

The restore feature of Ghost is as easy to use as those of other backup programs. Although Ghost uses a separate DOS program for backups, it ships with a Windows-based extraction tool, Ghost Explorer. When you need to restore a file, Ghost Explorer looks through the folders and files in a Ghost image. Once you find the file you need, restoring it to your hard drive is as easy as copying a file from one folder to another.

Ghost ships with one extra non-backup-related utility, called GDisk. GDisk replaces FDisk, a familiar DOS utility that partitions and formats hard drives and is used for working with disk partitions. It's definitely a power tool, however, so if you don't know what you're doing, leave disk partitioning to the pros.

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Overall, Ghost does a complete job creating of backups that are useful after major disasters or for migrating to new hardware. However, it isn't really an everyday backup tool like Retrospect, NovaBackup, Simple Backup and GoBack. These products give you better backup utilities at a lower price.

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