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External Hard Drive and Norton Ghost Advice

phuzzy asked
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Last Modified: 2013-12-02
Currently i have 3 computers (2 desktop and one laptop) and use norton ghost 2001 to create back up images of them all... What i want to do now is buy an external hard drive so that i can write all the Ghost images to it instead of writing the images on CD (which i really dont trust).   Before i begin does anyone know of any issues concerning Ghost 2001 and external hard drives???? Or does anyone have any advice at all that may be useful.....

Thanks in advance

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Top Expert 2007

You will need an external drive that has DOS support. Not all of them do !!

A parallel port device is probably the best for this, since few USB drives have DOS support.

Check out dirtcheapdrives.com and search mysimon.com for pricing.

I hope this helps !
Top Expert 2007

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I hope this helps !

Parallel hard drives are unimaginably slow...  Let's see, USB is a lot faster than parallel and it still takes my external USB drive 2.8 hours to back up 5.5GB from my internal hard drive.  BTW, you don't mention the operating system.  If it's Win2000, that has a backup routine that comes with the system.  I don't remember if 98/ME does, but I think so.  Due to wanting an external device for backups, I recommend you use something other than Ghost to make use of USB or Firewire.  Excellent program that it is for cloning drives, it makes a lousy backup-to-external-drive program.

Why don't you trust CDs?  Since hard drives are given to mechanical failure, the only worry with a CD is the burn process.  Once this is verified, your only worry is stepping on the thing and breaking it in half.  Sure, it takes an extra few minutes to select the 'verify after writing' option in the CD mastering program, but it's worth the little wait compared to an external backup over parallel or even USB.  The biggest problem with backup to CD is the things hold "only" 700MB...  a real problem if you've got tens of GB.

Some additional thoughts:
Are these machines networked?  If so, you can get the version of Ghost that backs up over a network.  This would allow you to back up to a Firewire or USB external drive attached to one of the other machines.  Much MUCH more faster than a parallel drive that would go from machine to machine as long as you have 100Mbit networking.




Thanks for the links and information.  I'll have a look at that


Oh dear... you've put doubt in my mind again....

Can i just ask a few smaller questions to you both.

How do you both feel about using CD's instead... The main computer i am concentrating on is the laptop... which (if everything goes to plan when it arrives) i will setup the 20GB disk drive with 2 (partition magic) partitions on it....

  1. 15GB Windows 2000 (FAT32)
  2. 5GB Red Hat Linux

I know Ghost supports imaging of both file systems and have used Ghost alot so i feel more comfortable with it.  

At a rough guess i'd say it will take at least 3 cd's for the Windows 2000 partition and possibly 2 cd's for the Linux partition.  But i have always been very paranoid about CD's.

I dont know how often i will want to re-ghost the partitions (knowing that at least Linux is a very stable system) but i assume maybe just once or twice a year at most?

Do you both feel that maybe cd's are the best option in the end (without worrying about the cost of hard drives)?

So to waffle on so much.

Thanks in advance... both of you have already been a great help.


I think Ghost is an inapropriate tool for general system backup purposes.

Linux has the 'tar' utility and Windows2000 has a system backup wizard.  These are the apropriate tools for system backup moreso than Ghost.  If there is a network, which is not mentioned, backup to a shared Firewire or USB drive attached to a workstation is easy and reliable.

Furthermore, you state:  "I dont know how often i will want to re-ghost"  This is why there is such a thing as an "incremental backup."  tar and Win2k backup utility can both do this.

IMHO, CDs become a hassle even if it's "only" three or four of the things.  This is entirely dependent on your tolerance for shuffling multiple disks, not mine.  On the other hand, CDs are MUCH more reliable than hard drives...  If your CD drive fails, get a new one and your disks are still good.  Hard drive fails and you get a new one with no data on it.  Given this, what is there to not trust about CDs?  You have not explained this strange paranoia with CDs.  Did someone tell you an urban legend about the unreliability of CDs?

Here is my idea of using a USB drive for backup:
Workstation 1 has USB drive attached and shared.  It can back itself up to this drive with backup utility.
Workstation 2 has a network connection to workstation 1 and has its backup utility set to use the share.
Laptop has a network connection to workstation 1 and uses tar or backup utility to the share.

This allows:
1.  The USB drive to be turned off when not needed.  
2.  While the device is external, the hassle of unplugging and moving is reduced significantly.  
3.  Workstation 2 and laptop need not be burdened with the drivers
4.  workstation 2 and laptop don't even need a USB or Firewire or whatever socket.  This allows the fastest possible interface (Firewire) to be used with a minimum of additional equipment (one Firewire card).

NOTE:  If you stay with Ghost, the network version of Ghost will work on this setup if the server end is installed on Workstation 1.  This is actually how I have things set up at work...  An external USB drive has all my Ghost images but it is always attached to the machine with the "server" end of Ghost.  But I'm doing disk images because I test a lot of different configurations, not because I'm backing up.  For backup, I use the Windows2000 backup utility.

And to further confuse things:
Have you considered a tape device?  This is the traditional tried-and-true backup method.




one last small question.  These back up tools you talk about in Linux and Windows 2000.... how do they work?  I mean do they just create a back up file which i can then write to CD or do they write directly to the CD (therefore allowing me to span on multiple CD's) and what is the compression size like with them?

As for my paranoia of CD's... maybe it's just the weather in Northern Ireland but for some unknown reason at least 50% of my CD's become unreadable very quickly (and i take great care of CD's not a scratch on them).  The CD's that i use are not the most expensive but by far are not the cheapest as well... It's not just me, i mean i know lots of people this happens to.

Well anyway... i'll get my problem sorted soon enough

Thanks for all your help in advance

"These back up tools you talk about in Linux and Windows 2000"

If you're using a rewritable CD in packet mode (when the CD behaves like a slow hard drive), Windows2000 will prompt for a new disk when the first is full.  Linux's tar utility might give you some trouble since I don't know of a Linux packet driver.  

Perhaps you thought I was arguing in strong favor of CD for your situation when I was really just defending thier general reliability.  I think you were on the right track with a USB/Firewire/whatever external drive, just not Ghost.

"maybe it's just the weather in Northern Ireland"

I'm suprised that cold and wet would affect a CD, but I'll take your word for it.  Maybe its the bad karma in the air from the protestant/catholic situation?


Well we finally made it,

  "Maybe its the bad karma in the air from the
   protestant/catholic situation?"

Oh getting all political on me now.  I just try to keep my head out of all conflicts that concern religion... that is why i keep my head out of all conflicts.  But Belfast is a great place to be (well according to all the tourists anyways)

I wasn't really serious about the weather thing though ;) (and i promised myself never to use a smiley thing!!!)

Anyways, i have come to a decision. I have decided to use CD's instead (owing to the fact that realistically i cant afford to spend any money on toys).  Although i am still gonna use Ghost (sorry but i am just weird like that).

Can't wait to finally have my own Linux system though...

Anyway i am ranting and getting over excited about a chunk of plastic and silicone cause i am such a drunk nerd...

Thank you for ALL your help, you've been great


Did i say thanks?!

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