Symantec Ghost 9.0 Review

Tuesday 12th July, 2005
I've been evaluating the latest version of Symantec Ghost, imaginitively titled Ghost 9.0 and thought I'd post a quick review here.

I've used Ghost in various incarnations over the years and it's always worked well, V9 is no exception. Since the last release, however, Symantec have acquired PowerQuest which leads to some exciting advances.

Install Ghost V9 and reboot. Then tell it to run a backup of the drives you want. This it will do (using PQ DriveImage technology) without actually shutting down first. Choose your compression option and a destination and off you go. You can backup to a local drive, network folder or even to a removable drive or USB/firewire disk if you so desire. Once backed up, you can schedule regular incremental backups - as frequently as every hour if you wish. Nice for those who work locally but want some added protection.

The backup is reasonably fast, on my system it backed up 9GB of compressed data (so about 20GB of hard drive data) to my NAS over a gigabit backbone in about 30mins; that's with no noticeable performance hit on the machine whilst I was using it. If backing up to a local drive, performance would be in the 1GB/min range. But the beauty comes with the bootable CD...

Reboot the CD with the Ghost CD in the drive and the PC boots straight from it. On my test system, it automatically connected to my network and mounted my local SATA hard drives. As option is provided to supply manafacturer drivers if necessary but it recognised my motherboard's SATA controller, even though WINXP setup doesn't. Other options include mapping a network drive or partitioning a drive (uses PQ Partition Magic).

So essentially you can do a full backup of your system, hourly incremental backups with no performance hit and in the event of a hard disk crashing you can replace it and restore just by booting from the CD. The boot CD allows scanning of drives with Symantec AV should your data loss not have been related to a physical problem with the drive.

The only negative is that Server operating systems aren't supported. It'll backup all client OS up to Windows XP but won't handle Windows 2000 or 2003 server...a real shame.

Overall highly recommended...but only for client OS.

I also intend to review Acronis True Image 8.0

Note: I haven't actually performed or tested a restore yet, but I did prove I can access the backed up files from the emergency boot CD.

cnet review: Norton Ghost, once the drive-copying software of choice, doesn't have the performance or the breadth of tools offered by rival Acronis True Image.

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