What's your experiance with Norton Ghost 15? Ever got a bad image or problems?

Hi Everyone,

We've gotten a great rate on Norton Ghost for XP clients.  We are looking to implement it on a pretty wide scale to make daily/off-site backups of XP machines.  

Years back, this was a great soltuion.  However, lately we've been using other solutions.  Does anyone have any experiance with Ghost 15 yet? Are the images reliable?  Our main concern is that the users will not do much besides check for the "sucecss" e-mail every day.  We need to make sure there won't be a corrupted image or any restore issues if it's ever needed.

Honestly, we probably only would care about getting the files back.  Restoring the whole OS woulnd't matter.  XP can be set back up quickly enough.  The data is very important though.  

Thanks!
JsmplyAsked:
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SemperWiFiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I also have nothing bad to report with Ghost. I worked in a production environment where a few 100 systems per day were imaged using Ghost and I can't remember ever seeing one fail due to the Image or Imaging process. Bad drives - another story.

Though if your looking to backup data and not the OS there are certainly WAY better methods to use. If you could tell us a little about the environment I can get you some better ideas which will have a faster recovery time, easier access for recovering data, and all this while using far less disk space and bandwidth.
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M4verickConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I haven't used Ghost 15. The company I work for uses Symantec Ghost Suite 2.5, and we use it daily. I built our Ghost solution myself and to be honest, we have very FEW problems with it. Easy to install, easy to take images, easy to restore images. The images themselves aren't to blame, it has been the builder/end-user to blame in my experience with it.

While I am an advocate of the Ghost solution, if you are simply needing to back up files, I would recommend going with simply a network share and end user education. Because without end user education, you may be out of luck anyways.
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thompsonwirelessCommented:
Ghost is a good imaging program.  If you're backing up data I highly suggest using something more suitable as a software or data backup solution.  If you need a disk image you have a good program to do that with.
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Well don't get me wrong, the image is helpful on the machine. However, what I meant was, if the machine runs for 5 years and then dies, we may just recover the files to a new machine as at that point the machine and OS is out of date. Ghost can be used for files as well, correct?
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thompsonwirelessCommented:
That is correct.  You can back up and restore files with that version.
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  What makes other solutions "WAY better" than Ghost if you want to backup data also?
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thompsonwirelessCommented:
Available options are variables to a point.  My home backup doesn't allow incremental backups, doesn't specify overwrite- etc.  So it is on its way out.  Most of your major data backup programs are very similar.  It depends on your individual needs.  Handy Backup is something I used at home.  For a network I wouldn't cut corners and use something that is practical.  I'd make sure I had something that got the job done!
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SemperWiFiCommented:
Jsmply - Would love to help you out here! For the sake of saving time and typing. Can you give us an outline of your environment please? This will allow answers to be specific to your particular case and not generic.

Image based vs file based is more than likely the conversation we're about to have. But before we jump the gun, let's hear about your environment. Please don't be afraid to get detailed (structure, work flow, data storage, OSes and Controllers, etc).
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Hi SemperWiFi, sorry for the delay.  It's a Windows XP file server.  It hosts docs or 4 different workstations and one database program that all workstations access as well.  The total Norton Ghost image for the machine is only 15 GB, so for backups we have been using Norton Ghost to make daily images to 3 different external hard drives.  Different jobs are setup for different days and they are rotated off-site (differnet jobs running different days, with it's corresponding drive).

It seems to be working fine.  We've done a test restore of a few select files from the Ghost image and seems to work.  We are pretty happy with the solution now, but welcome your input.

Thanks!
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SemperWiFiCommented:
Jsmply - Thanks for getting back to us and thank you very much for the environment and current process outline.

The information you provided is incredibly helpful. The reason I say is now we won't bother you with solutions which will be complete overkill for your situation nor will we be expecting certain tools to be available which are not present with your setup. Just to be clear, for your future reference when looking for support, XP is not a server and is simply a central file store in your office. As far as cost effectiveness and usefulness I'd say your in a good place.

In regards to your backup/DR plan. Currently, you are hitting two of the biggest areas very well. Daily and off site! Additionally, I feel it is rather important to say at this time, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I remind us all of this point as to shed light on the fact that what you are currently doing is indeed working. Anything suggested here at this point would only be suggestions as to perhaps more hands free aka automated options for performing your backups.

A couple of very nice things in an environment as small as yours is 1. Very Very little in terms of data amount (total data space used) and 2. non-presence of an enterprise equipment. The reason I say these are nice is due to the low costs involved in an applications or backup services you may be looking into at this point. Because you basically have a small home network setup which is great for your wallet. To put it in perspective, I have more computers in the upstairs at my house than you do in your office and we won't even think about talking about data amount differences.

So a couple of low cost options you may consider adding to what you already have in place or replacing with should you want to be able to pretty much just set it up and forget about it.

1. Backup as a service: There are many companies providing this service (example: http://www.carbonite.com/ - your plan would be about $55 per year) and all of them have a small application you setup on your side and backups are performed per schedule and continuously.

2. Self Setup Automated Backup: There are also several options here as well. Applications such as BackUp4All allow you to setup automated offsite back ups (as well as other types) With the small amount of data you have you could easily setup an FTP server on a home computer, forward a couple of ports on your home router, and setup an IP redirect for a target and the only cost to you would be the one time fee for the initial application purchase (the backup program is all you would purchase - FTP & IP Redirect are free).

If either of these are of interest and you would like more information about one or both simply ask. Otherwise, what you have in place works and is reliable as long as nobody forgets to swap drives out. So really you sound good to go if you ask me.
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Hi SemperWiFi, thanks!  Btw, I'm aware XP is not a true server.  :)  I just called it an XP file server so you'd understand what it was being used for.  =)

Regarding the rest of your comments, we do have Carbonite running on this machine all the time with automatic (on the fly) backups.  However, the database software we run claims that they are not compatible with online backup due to the fact that ALL of the data files need to be in sync, and if the machine dies while Carbonite has only updated half of the files, it wouldn't be synced and work.  I've toyed with the idea of having Carbonite actually backup one of the Norton Ghost images every so often though.

Thanks!
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SemperWiFiCommented:
Great stuff! Sounds like you have it together here... please let me know if you have any other questions or if I can assist with anything else.

Maybe Microsoft has missed something here - SERVER XP! They could have Server 7 now too I suppose :-) I figured you knew the difference but I thought I would mention it just in case you didn't.

All the best!

Semper
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Thanks!  I'm about ready to close this.  One quick question, do you recommend enabling the "Perform full VSS backup" option on Ghost's advanced job options?  Does this force it to use Shadow Copy instead of Ghost's own engine for open files?  
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SemperWiFiCommented:
VSS - Volume Shadow Copy Service

I wouldn't worry about using that. What you have been using works fine, suggest sticking with it.

"6 in one hand / half dozen in the other"
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Actually, we have been using VSS.  Do you suggest switching back, or again "6 in one hand / half dozen in the other?"
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SemperWiFiCommented:
Either should be fine but if you used it one way reliably for quite sometime then that is a good field test and worth staying with.

Another favorite - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

:-)
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JsmplyAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  Maverick thanks for the first reply and SemperWiFi thanks for sticking it out with all the questions!
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