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Ghosting approaches - summary because of popular demand

(69 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by whs
  • Latest reply from mikisu
  • Topic Viewed 34131 times

whs
Posts: 17584

Definition of Ghosting:

Ghosting, also referred to as Imaging, is the process of backing up the whole system drive(s) to an external disk. That is the OS drive and also possibly the Recovery drive. It is different from Backups in the sense that it does not only save the data files, but also all the system settings, installed programs and actually everything that is on the system. It should be done periodically (e.g., once a week). In case of problems with the system (e.g., a virus infection or the replacement of the hard disk) it enables you to recover the system from the ghost image – the last one or any earlier one if available. For that you also need a recovery CD. This CD boots from the optical drive (because your system is inoperable or non-existent in case of a disk replacement). For that you need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS to allow booting from the optical drive in lieu of the system disk partition. Ghosting programs that you buy as a boxed version, come with this recovery disk. The ones you download from the web, require that you burn the CD yourself.
There are basically 3 scenarios on how you can approach the subject:

1. The easy way

Buy yourself a Maxtor One Touch disk like this one ( http://www.newegg.com/product/.....C8Junction"). It contains all the Ghosting and file backup software, plus the recovery CD and it is really very easy to use. They also have a 250GB 2.5 inch model that I bought on black Friday for $50 and a 3.5 inch model with 640GBs that I saw on sale around Christmas 08 for $89. Once you set it up, and there are only 2 parameters to define, you can run it from a switch on the disk and don’t even have to load the program. My wife uses it on her systems and loves it. The other advantage is, their program also works with Seagate disks (Maxtor is part of the Seagate Company). So if you have a friend that has a Maxtor, you can load the program from there onto your system and run it with your Seagate disk (if you have one).

2. The cheapest way

There are a few programs on the web that do ghosting and are free. Macrium is one of them ( http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp ) Another one, but more complicated, is Clonezilla ( http://www.clonezilla.org/ ). The disadvantage of those is that you have to do some work (e.g., burn your own recovery disk).

3. The traditional way

There are a whole number of commercial programs out there that cost between $40 to $70. Norton Ghost and Acronis are the most prominent. I use Norton Ghost and it does a pretty good job. Here you have to make sure that you get a boxed version because that comes with the recovery CD – don’t download it from the web. Burning the CD can be a nightmare. A comparison of what’s on the market you can find here ( http://data-backup-software-re.....views.com/ )

Any questions?

Posted 5 years ago
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Scott
Posts: 5618

You want this sticky for a while?

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

That may be a good idea. For a couple of weeks and then lets see.

Posted 5 years ago
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0zSpitt
Posts: 1037

i took the first one on the list, marcrium, and installed it to test. be sure to restart after installing because it didn't pick up my external hard drive or flash drive. but it worked perfectly after that. i created a disk image on 3 dvd's in about 20 minutes. i'll give it a week then see how it works.
thanks whs, i'm sure a lot of people could use this.

also, i do have norton ghost already on here. i just want to see if i can help someone out by testing it

Posted 5 years ago
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jd2066
Posts: 3814

Does the Maxtor software come with the ability to restore individual files from the image if needed?
I got a "Western Digital My Passport Essential WDME5000TN 500GB" drive myself so I have no idea what image backup other software does.
Last I read most all the drives like Western Digital come with File Backup only and a few people on other sites have had many programs with Ghost and TrueImage. I'm looking into the lesser known image software because of that with the idea that it would work better.

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

1. In Maxtor you cannot restore individual files from the image. But it also comes with a file backup that we run at the same time. And there you can retrieve any saved file or folder.
2. In Norton Ghost, you have a "show versions" in the right click menu. That allows you to restore any file or folder from the images.
3. I have not yet seen that kind of program on a WD (and I have several of those). Maybe I should have a look. But the Maxtor Manager works also with my Seagate - same company (although there I use Ghost). The Maxtor is for the wife. She likes the one button deal.
4. For a more comprehensive overview of what's on the market, you might want to look at that. The Genie Backup Manager looks very good too.
5. I have seen many complaints about Acronis, but I have no own experience. Norton Ghost is OK - it does what I want, but is has it's "operational challenges". But the Norton guys at their IM chatline are very good. They have always helped me out in a swift manner.

Posted 5 years ago
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jd2066
Posts: 3814

1. Ok. Then the Maxtor and the Windows Vista software are out. I don't want to do a seperate file backup.
2. That is good.
3. Not a problem. I figured I would need to get backup software that did what I want anyways.
4. The is a nice list but it's not all the programs out there. In my search I also found: Storagecraft ShadowProtect, Terabyte Unlimted Image for Windows and Driveimage XML.
So far those are the ones I'm trying out (30-day trial for ShadowProtect/IFW and Free for DriveImage XML) to see what works for me.
5. Indeed, the Norton guys have good support. I talked to Norton AntiVirus support the other day and it worked out well.
I upgraded Norton AntiVirus 2008 to Norton AntiVirus 2009 because the web site said it was a free upgrade.
What I didn't relize it if the copy was bought and installed by the BestBuy GeekSquad (I was working on someone elses computer, I wouldn't use the GeekSquad if they payed me), it's a different edition entriely and can't be activated with the BestBuy GeekSquad Product Key. Instead I need to wait for the BestBuy GeekSquad 2009 edition to come out.
I called Norton AntiVirus support, I was told that and the support person was able to connect remotely (with my permission of course) to revert the computer to Norton AntiVirus 2008.
The support person even extended the subscription by 20 days because of the trouble that caused (Waste of my time upgrading to an edition that wouldn't accept the product key and activate).

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

ad 1. You are right. The Maxtor is not a sophisticated piece of software. But the upside is, for setup you only check 2 boxes and off you go. And next time, you just push the button on the disk and it backs up. I bought this 250GB, 2.5inch on black Friday for $50. For the wife it is a good deal. She likes the simplicity.
ad 2. I forgot to mention that Ghost can also save the images on an upload site on the web. I never tried that. I would imagine that you need an awfully fast connection to dump 35GBs (like some of those cable DSLs).
ad 4. When you are done with your trials, maybe you can post your findings. I am sure that would be helpful for others.
ad 5. Yes, the Symantec people are good people. I have Norton IS 2009 (for myself and Kaspersky for the wife) - a world of difference from previous versions. That is really amazing. It now does all it's scans when the system is at idle and as soon as you resume your work, it pauses and continues next idle time. And it keeps you informed of what it is doing with a bubble by the system tray. Plus, the whole user interface is a lot nicer too. AND, it has not yet stuttered a single time. I used to get that a lot with previous versions and had to reinstall it now and then. I was at the point where I threw it out and installed Kaspersky. But that was at odds with my Ghost. So I am back to Norton, and now I am really in good shape.

Posted 5 years ago
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Spacegold
Posts: 594

Suppose you are using one of these techniques to regularly clone the contents of the onboard drive. Then the main drive crashes irretrievably. Can the Bios be set to boot from the external, so that the computer will run Vista as normal until a new drive can be obtained? And when a new drive is installed, what must be done put everything on it and give it control?

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

Yes, I do an image (clone) once a week. But you can do it as often as you like. The recovery in case of a crash of the OS disk, however, works a little differently. All the boxed programs come with a recovery CD (for the programs you download from the web, you have to first burn this yourself). This recovery CD contains a program (usually a Linux based program) that reloads the OS disk image from the backup disk back to the Internal OS disk that you replaced. For that you boot the Recovery CD from the CD reader (you have to change the boot sequence in the BIOS). Once the recovery program reloaded the internal OS disk, your system is exactly the way it was when the backup image was taken (e.g. like last week or whatever frequency you chose). But you can also choose an earlier recovery point (as available on your backup disk). Once this is done, you stop the recovery disk and reboot from the newly recovered OS disk (no change of the BIOS necessary in this case because booting from the internal OS disk is default).
Running your system from the external image is not possible. This is not a Vista installation, but a disk image with the controls of the ghosting (imaging) program.

Posted 5 years ago
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jd2066
Posts: 3814

You can't run Windows Vista from an image file though Windows 7 will support running from a VHD file which is the format the Windows Vista Complete PC Backup uses.
As to whether it will support running from a VHD file that is on an external drive I don't know. Will have to see when Windows 7 comes out.

Posted 5 years ago
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raphoenix
Posts: 14920

The answer to this thread lies in making a Boot CD from a Boot Dos Image File and including (2) Small Program Files which can handle HD Structuring plus Partition / Full HD Imaging. Though I have never tried the method with Vista, it works for XP3 down. Supported file systems are ALL FAT, ALL NTFS, and EXT2/3. Also USB HDs may not be detected unless the Machine Bios Supports Boot from USB as a HD. (MB / Chipset Architectures)
Regards,
Rick P.

Posted 5 years ago
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Spacegold
Posts: 594

I probably do not belong on this thread because I am clearly the least knowledgable one here. But I am understanding a little over half what is being discussed. I do not quite understand the difference between a Vista install and an image. Once the machine is bebooted with a new drive using the recovery disk, how is the image transferred to it from the external? Is this the job of the external's CD?

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

Yes, the CD contains a plain old copy program (maybe with a few specials) that copies the ghost image from the external back onto the system disk. It knows where the boot records are and where they belong, which part is the OS disk partition, which part is another disk partition (e.g. the recovery partition) etc. As I said, imaging the internal disk to the external disk does not equal an operating system installation. Think of Ghosting (or imaging) like a disassembly and the CD copy job does a reassembly. That's one reason why you cannot boot Vista from the external.
But keep asking the questions - everybody belongs on any thread. That may help other readers to better understand the mechanism.

Posted 5 years ago
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Spacegold
Posts: 594

Thanks, whs, I think I will be receiving a 320G seagate external from a friend who is upgrading to the latest thing. I would want to use it as a backup drive, and imaging the C: drive seems like good idea.

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

That sounds good. Once you have the disk, let's discuss which program you might want to use for imaging because there are only a few free options. Most of the good ones are for $$$. Also check around with your friends whether anybody has a Maxtor One Touch disk. Because from there you could install the Maxtor Manager on your system - that works also with Seagate disks and is extremely easy to setup and use. You just would have to borrow the Maxtor for an hour or so.

Posted 5 years ago
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InDiSent
Posts: 1084

What version of Norton Ghost do you use? I still use 8 and i'm thinking of trying the latest today or sometime this week.

Posted 5 years ago
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whs
Posts: 17584

InDiSent, I use V14. But if V8 works for you, why change. All you want is a proper image that you can recover from.

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
Posts: 6609

InDiSent, whs is right -- if you are able to make and restore images, then Ghost v8 is sufficient. However, if you do wish to update to a newer version, there are some things that you should know.

Ghost v8 and it's immediate successor Ghost 2003 both save images in the .gho format. 2003 was the last version to support this. Starting with Ghost v9, the program changed to use the PowerQuest code that Symantec acquired which saves in .v2i format. Ghost v9 and beyond do not read .gho files, so v9 and v10 came with a free version of Ghost 2003 in the box. Ghost v12 and v14 (latest) no longer come with 2003 and, by themselves, cannot read .gho files. So, you could transition to using the new style, phasing out the old style, but you would need to keep both versions around for a while. If you have some .gho files that you were hoping to keep forever, you need to hang on to your old Ghost version. Just know that you would have a transition period to deal with.

There are upsides to the newer versions. You can image from Windows without needing to boot into a special DOS environment, make incremental backups, restore individual files from an image, and there are other nifty features that you might be interested in. The latest versions (12+) have better support for Vista, SATA hard drives, and use a nice Windows PE recovery disk. I still use version v12 because there are no features in v14 that I need. I frequently see Ghost v14 on sale and with rebates, so it can be found inexpensively if you are patient.

Posted 5 years ago
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raphoenix
Posts: 14920

What (FREE) Program(s) most closely duplicates all the features found in Ghost V12 / V14 ????
Thanks,
Rick P.

Posted 5 years ago
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