If you work with large amounts of data, or any amount of data for that matter, it is absolutely essential that you backup your computer on a regular basis. There are so many things that can go wrong in an instant that can cause you to lose large amounts of data – if you are not performing backups, you are just asking for trouble. Luckily, Norton has released yet another version of their popular Ghost software suite, Norton Ghost 15.
It’s an elegant, lucid, and mature program that’s easy enough for alert non-technical users, but packed with fine-grained options for advanced users, including the ability to convert backed-up images into “virtual disks” that can be run as “virtual machines” by VMware software or by Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology.
Norton Ghost has come a long way; once a simple disk-cloning tool, it now combines imaging features with incremental backup at the disk, partition and file level, to deliver what Symantec calls “professional grade backup”.
With Norton Ghost, lost or damaged files can be recovered and restored in the event of a system failure, even if the computer’s operating system does not start. It also allows backup of an entire system or specific files and folders while saving recovery points to offsite locations using FTP. Norton Ghost is also flexible, allowing users to decide when to back up their system, either on a schedule or based on an event.
Windows XP SP2 Home / Professional:
- 300MHz processor or higher.
512MB RAM (1 GB recommended).
430MB free hard disk space.
- Windows Vista Home Starter / Home Premium / Business / Ultimate:
- Must meet the minimum system requirement of Windows Vista.
- Windows 7 Starter / Home Basic /Home Premium / Professional / Enterprise / Ultimate:
- Must meet the minimum system requirement of Windows 7.
Required for all installations:
- CD-ROM or DVD drive for software distribution on media..
- Super VGA (800×600) resolution or higher video adapter and monitor.
Supported File Systems and Devices:
- FAT16, FAT16X, FAT32, FAT32X.
- NTFS, GUID Partition Table (GPT).
- Dynamic Disks.
Supported Hard Drives and Removable Media.
- CDR/RW, DVD+-R/RW, Blu-Ray drives.
- USB and FireWire (IEEE 1394) devices.
- Iomega Zip and Jaz drives.
Smooth, But Lengthy, Installation
Installation was smooth, but slow. After installing Ghost 15.0 and restarting my computer, the application downloaded and installed a new version of itself, and required me to restart a second time. After the second restart, it greeted me with a wizard that offered to create a backup of my complete system. The wizard also included options to limit the backup to one or more partitions instead of the complete system, plus an option to backup individual files, folders, or types of files.
I like Ghost 15.0′s spacious, up-to-date interface, which offers all the information that intelligent, but non-technical users need to create backups on local disks, remote network drives, or detachable USB drives. A well-designed Offsite Backup option, for example, guides you through the process of creating backups on USB drives or on writable optical disks, including CDs, DVDs, and even Blu-Ray disks. Drive image backups were reasonably quick but slower than rival products: Ghost 15.0 needed 32 minutes to back up a 38GB partition that ShadowProtect Desktop and Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 both imaged in 24 minutes.
Symantec Norton Ghost 15.0 Features
- • Full backups are easy – with only a few clicks, you can backup your whole computer. If something goes wrong, a few more clicks will restore it to its original state!
- • Event based backups – you can have Ghost backup your computer when specific events happen, or even on specific dates automatically
- • Backup changed files only – instead of backing up your whole computer every time, Ghost can backup only files that have changed, saving time and space!
- • Automatically backup your files, photos and more
- o Safeguards your photos, videos, music and other files with automatic backup
o Takes periodic snapshots of your entire computer hard drive to be able to completely restore your computer system to a specific backup version in the case of hard drive failure
o Automatically backs up when online threats raise an increased need to save the latest version of your system
Poor Help Page
Ghost 15.0′s dialog boxes are packed with clearly-written information suitable for casual users. Unfortunately, expert users who click on the “Advanced” button in some of Ghost 15.0′s dialog boxes may be less satisfied with the level of help provided. For example, when I defined a drive-image backup, an “Advanced” button opened a dialog with options for encrypting and password-protecting a backup, and also an option labeled “Perform full VSS backup.” A helpful-looking “Tell me more” button in the same dialog leads to a help page that explains every option on the Advanced dialog—except for “Perform full VSS backup.” Nothing else in the documentation explains what that option means. System administrators will know that it means that you can choose that option to backup Exchange Server and similar data even while the server’s database is active. Unfortunately, even the full-VSS option doesn’t fix Ghost 15.0′s refusal to back up cached Outlook data in an .OST file.