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Software Review: Norton Ghost 15 From Symantec

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Norton Ghost is an advanced backup and recovery system for your Windows based computer. You can make a backup of the entire hard disk or limit your backup to only those files and folders that are important to you.

You can schedule backups to capture your changes automatically on a set time period, or you can start a backup manually at any time. You can also configure Norton Ghost to run a backup in response to specific events. For example, a backup can run when a particular application is started or when a specified amount of new data is added to the drive.

Norton Ghost 15If you found that you lost a file, or a file has been corrupted, you can restore that file or folder easily. If your hard drive crashes, you can restore the entire hard drive to the state at which it was when the last backup was created. Even if you have to replace the drive, you can restore your system including the operating system, applications, and all of the data files.

What is needed to run Norton Ghost 15?

• Windows (XP or greater)
• 300 MHz or faster processor
• 512 MB (1 GB recommend) RAM
• 430 MB hard drive space
• CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
• SuperVGA (800×600) or higher resolution monitor

How does this work? First you have to create a recovery disk CD that will use a driver validation tool to compare your hardware drivers on the Symantec Recovery Disk CD with the drivers that are required to run your computer's network cards and hard drives.

Norton Ghost 15Once you have created and tested your recovery CD, you can then do an initial backup. For most people that will be creating a full system backup of your primary system drive (probably C:). This backup will be placed on another drive that can be an external drive, DVD-ROM, network drive, or some other location not on the primary drive.

Your particular situation and the amount of data that you are backing up will determine your best backup practices. One such option is to do a full backup once a week or once a month, and incremental backups on a daily or weekly basis. Norton Ghost will let you define these backups and then you can set a schedule when it will automatically run. Once the backup is run Ghost gives you the ability to create an off-site copy as well. This means that when your regular backup is done, Ghost will make a copy on another location. This can even be an FTP site for your copy destination.

Norton Ghost 15While most will schedule the backup to run at a specific time, say 1am when they are not using the system, if the job is running when you need to use the computer, you have the option to adjust the speed of the backup so that you can work more efficiently while the backup is going on, and then speed it back up when you are done.

Then if anything bad happens like a hard drive crash, a virus, or even if your house is destroyed in a fire, as long as you have access to your recovery disk, the most current set of backups, and Ghost, you can recover to the point of that last backup.

If you have multiple hard drives and you do a full backup of your system drive, you may only want some information from the second drive backed up. You can also set it up to do backups of a specific directory, for example your photographs. Then when you add a bunch of new photos you can just run the job and those files will be protected.

So with all this, what's new with Norton Ghost 15?

• Cold imaging now lets you backup files without installing Ghost. This allows you to create independent recovery points using the "Back Up My Computer" feature in Symantec Recovery Disk. Sometimes known as a cold backup or offline backup, you can create recovery points of a partition without the need to install Norton Ghost or its Agent.

• ThreatCon integration leverages intelligence from Symantec’s industry-leading security research organization to automatically backup files whenever ThreatCon reaches a specified threat level.

• Blu-ray Disk imaging gives you the ability to not only back up to DVD, or CD, but Blu-ray as well. Now you can copy your recovery points to any of these media.

• Windows 7 support has now been added to Ghost. Updates have been added so that this version works better with Windows Vista with SP2 (includes Home Basic, Home Premium, Business-Retail, and Ultimate).

• Virtual formats support has been improved to include support for VMware ESX 3.5i and 4.0i as well as VMware ESX 3.5 and 4.0

• Convert recovery points is as simple as creating schedules to convert recovery points to VMware Virtual Disk and Microsoft Virtual Disks, or directly to a VMware ESX 3.5 server.

• Microsoft Hyper-V is now supported for converting recovery points to Hyper-V format and also import recovery points to a Hyper-V server.

Norton Ghost 15I do wish there was more flexibility with the folder backup. You can backup a directory and its subdirectories, but you cannot choose which subdirectories to back up. Also it would be nice to schedule a backup when something new was added to the folder backup. These are not problems, but rather places for improvement.

Norton Ghost is a product that has saved me a number of times in the past from system crashes and a virus attack. In my opinion, if it's only used to get a good system recovery backup, it would be worth its weight in gold and well worth the price of admission.

With this new version and all of the other capabilities that are in Norton Ghost 15, things like backing up over the network, high compression, cold imaging, as well many of the improvements from prior versions make Norton Ghost a must-have type of product even if you never have the need for it. It provides insurance for that day that you will need it. If you want a solid reliable backup system that will give you peace of mind, then you need Norton Ghost 15.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Bob D

    Just purchased Norton Ghost 15. The only drawback is that if you’re cloning/ghosting an older drive to a newer drive with the intent of *replacing* the older drive, expect trouble. There is NO drive re-lettering feature. Example: Older 80GB HD low on space, want to replace it with a 500GB HD. Normally you slave that 500GB into the system and do your cloning – BUT that drive is assigned (say) drive letter D: (and it will STAY drive D:). Do NOT use the Computer Mgmt snap-in, it will NOT re-letter *any* boot/system drive. And guess what drive letter all your reg-keys point to… I made the mistake of thinking I could re-letter my C: to E:, then re-letter the clone drive (D:) to C: – NOT HAPPENING!! And you’ve just hosed your C: drive. This means you will hang at the logon screen, *never* getting the logon prompt..! RecoveryConsole will *not* fix this problem. I had to pull the drive, and slave it into another system, launch regedit, highlight HKLM, import hive -> Drive(?), windows\\system32\\config and the “System\\Mounted Devices” key. Changed the key that had “D:” on it to “C:”. Unload the hive (MUST DO!). Pull the drive, and put it back into the other system, got on my knees and prayed that it would work – it did… But *what* a nightmare! All Symantec had to do was give the option to re-letter, and I would have been finished in 5 minutes (minus the cloning time). Hope this helps, ~Bob.