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How does Norton Ghost 9 work (basic stuff)?

Posted on 2005-05-05
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I have a new home PC (XP Pro) and want to get a good disaster recovery backup package.  It also needs to work with Win2K (I have two PCs).

In the past, I have used the Backup MyPC (formerly Backup Exec), but it seems cumbersome and it won't do disaster recovery to a networked DVD burner.  For Win2K, you have to make a set of 6 recovery diskettes and then burn the media on the machine being backed up.  I don't know how it works on XP.

I was reading about Norton Ghost 9, and it sounds good, but I haven't seen an explanation of how it actually is done.

Say I want to make a full disk image to restore everything (disaster recovery).  I want to use a DVD burner on another PC on my home network.  What do I end up with -- a diskette and DVD(s), a set of diskettes and DVD(s), just DVD(s)?

I assume it can span multiple media if necessary, is that correct?

Does Ghost have any limitations as to the kinds of burners and media it will support?  Does it require other software (such as Nero) in order to burn a DVD of any kind?

When I want to recover the drive, how does that work?  (Not the details, but what media do I need and what is the general procedure?)

Is there a better product for this sort of thing than Backup MyPC or Ghost?

Thanks greatly!
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Question by:vknowles
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rindi earned 2000 total points
ID: 13944139
I recommend Acronis Trueimage, not Ghost (http://acronis.com). They do the same thing, Acronis is a bit less expensive, and I mainly prefer it because it comes from a smaller company, not symantec, which I compare somewhat with microsoft, huge size, monopolistic behaviour. Symantec tends to buy its competitors (ghost was originaly a product from a swedish company).

Trueimage (and ghost) is able to write to directly connected DVD or CD RW drives, but this probably won't work with networked drives, as both products need direct control over these drives. I suggest you get a USB drive for that, they don't cost much anymore and you'll probably find many other advantages if you have such a movable drive.
Both products can make a bootable disk (CD, DVD or floppies) with itself on it, so you have easy revovery possibilites later.

There is no problem spanning the images. Trueimage will use more than one image file on a DVD, the reason being that if you want to copy a file larger than 2GB to a fat32 partition would not work because of the restrictions of this type of partition. You can also set the sizes of the image file chunks the way you want. backing up to network drives is no problem either, but if you need to start into the commandline mode, you may have some issues with network cards, again this is the same with both products, and as I mentioned earlier, networked CD or DVD writers will almost certainly not be accepted as being writable to.

For recovery you just need a bootable DVD drive on your System, and for that you could also use such a USB device. Just make sure your system BIOS can be set to boot from USB devices.

I guess most writable devices will be supported, but there may be a few which don't work, and it is better to use R media and not RW media.
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by:kode99
ID: 13947947
I also like and usually recommend Acronis,  it is just plain easy to use and very capable.

One thing though,  it will not write directly to DVD's at this time.  You would need to use a third party burning software Nero/Roxio etc.  here is a link to the details on this.
  http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/faq.html#20

A sort of good point about this is that you would be able to get dual layer support right now through the third party apps.  Acronis tech support has indicated that full DVD support will likely be in the next release - hopefully dual layer as well.

Acronis (and most others) have good demos available.  I would suggest trying them and also reading the manuals to see exactly how to do a bare metal restore.  Some programs 'support' it but it is not entirely painless.  Having to boot from a stack of floppy drives is just no fun,  these days PC may not even have floppy drives.

Ghost does burn to DVD directly but not dual layer.  So far the only program I have seen that does have direct dual layer support is BounceBack.  It has just come out with a new version.  
  http://www.cmsproducts.com/product_bounceback_software.htm

In any case you cannot burn directly to a networked DVD burner - the burner would have to be local to the PC the software is running on.

You might want to look at the Acronis corporate workstation version as it provides  functionality to do remote backup over a network.   Otherwise I would suggest doing backups to a network drive on the PC with the burner then do burning locally on that machine using your burning software of choice.
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by:Watzman
ID: 13951358
Well, I prefer Drive Image, some of whose code is now in Ghost 9 (code yes, but the user interface is still different, and Ghost is still a more "invasive" program).

I'm not sure if any of these programs (Ghost, Drive Image or Acronis) can write to a DVD burner on another computer over the network.  To write to a DVD burner, they have to run "DVD burner code", and such code doesn't work over a network, it is hardware level access, and that is not normally supported (indeed, I don't think it's possible) over a network.  All of them can write to a local DVD drive.  And all of them can create files for later burning to a DVD either on a local drive or on a networked hard drive.  But any software that is going to actually do a physical burn to writeable optical media (CD or DVD of any type) has to actually be running on the same computer that the drive is present on.

By the way, yes, these programs will all "break up" a large image into smaller files suitable for burning to either CDs or DVDs.

To recover, you boot either the product's distribution disc, or a floppy or CD that it has made for that purpose.

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by:rindi
ID: 13951387
The only way it might just be possible to write to a cd-like device across a network would be if the PC on which the device is located used some sort of paketwriting software (InCD or DirectCD, etc), and then shared that drive over the network so that it would look just like another HD, but that type of Format I don't in any way advise in using, and it wouldn't work for DVD media anyway, as far as I know.
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by:vknowles
ID: 13951525
Thanks for all the ideas.

I think I will have to try some of the demo software to see what it can do.

One quick question, though ... as far as backing up over a network:

I have PC#1 with the DVD burner networked to PC#2, and I want to do a complete drive image of the C: drive on PC#2, so I could completely restore it in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Can any/all of the packages run on PC#1 and make the disaster recovery backup of PC#2 by reading from PC#2 over the network?  The main issue I'm thinking about is the "files in use" problem -- even if I just have PC#2 booted, certain software will be running and possibly tying up files.  Comments?

Thanks!
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by:rindi
ID: 13951571
During a disaster recovery you will be booting of cd or floppy, and not the OS, so there won't be any open files... The problem in such a case is that you first have to create your ghost floppies with the correct drivers for your network card, and this can sometimes be tricky. I think acronis, at least if you make a boot CD, already has a good number of native NIC drivers builtin, so there it is easier to get connected.
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by:vknowles
ID: 13951586
Sorry, rindi, I wasn't clear.

I wasn't asking about recovering over the network.  I was asking about making the disaster recovery image in the first place.  Could you address that issue?

Thanks!
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by:Watzman
ID: 13951590
He's asking about making the backup, not using it.

I think that you can do that for any partition except the system partition.  To backup the system partition, I think that you will have to run the imaging software on the comptuer being backed up.  However, that software, running on and also backing up PC#2, can save the image file(s) on PC#1.
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by:rindi
ID: 13951630
It's the same thing (more or less). Ghost will boot into a dos-like mode, so if it doesn't have native NIC drivers there will be a problem. I'm not sure if that is the case with all ghost versions though. Acronis trueimage can almost always make the image while the OS itself is online. It probably uses similar methods to do that like tape backup programs, which are also able to backup open files.
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by:vknowles
ID: 13951643
Thanks, Watzman,

The system partition is the one I'm most concerned about.

My limited experience is with Backup MyPC, and it will not make a complete image (disaster recovery) anywhere but on removable media.  So it would not be possible to put it on another partition or a networked hard drive.

Thanks!
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by:vknowles
ID: 14020681
Thanks, everyone!

I decided the obvious solution was to buy a USB drive, which works wonderfully.  I got Acronis True Image and it backs the system partition to the USB drive, no problems.  I can then burn DVDs if I want.

The Acronis recovery media CD will create the images on the USB drive, too, as well as on a networked drive.  (The network setup was a little tricky, not totally automatic, but it worked).
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by:rindi
ID: 14024900
Thanks! Good to know you got what you looked for!
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