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  1. #1
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    A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    In light of the ongoing thread about Acronis True Image I wanted to write a couple thousand words about Norton Ghost.

    About 4 months ago I purchased Norton Ghost and have dutifully been making images of my dual 40 gig drives with multiple partitions to an 80 gig drive about once per week. A couple of days ago, I did some registry cleaning and other disk space recapture stuff like removing some old downloaded programs and such. Happening across my 80 gig drive in Explorer, I noticed all of my Ghost images along with some files identified as Disk1.gho, Disk2.gho, Disk3.gho, etc.

    Well, being the super computer user/programmer/studly/non-manual or instruction(s) reader kind of guy that I am, I deleted the aforementioned files that seemed to be irrelevant to my Ghost images. After deleting these files, I decided to make sure that I could restore the image in the event of a catastrophe. Shame, shame, shame on me...

    Norton reboots me and takes my to a DOS screen and starts recreating the image...then indicates that it cannot find my "image span" files. Shame on me again, I suppose these are the files I deleted?

    OK, no problem - "Cancel" I click. I reboot and VOILA I am @#$!% ticked off to find that my C drive has been converted from a fully functional W98 OS disk (tweaked to accept 1gig of ram and other enhancements I might add) with registry entries to at least several dozen important downloaded programs, corporate payroll and p&l items, email documents, DSL settings, and other what-nots...

    ...IS NOW A NON-SYSTEM DISK!

    "CANCEL?" Evidently "CANCEL" from Norton Ghost means that it will stop writing to the drive. Forget about what it already wrote to the drive BEFORE it figured out that the information required to complete the image restore did not exist. Talk about burnt toast and a case of the red #$%^@$#^!

    Luckily for me, I had another backup of the drive from pitifully inadequate Nov 2003 (OUCH!) made with the good old Seagate backup included with W98 which resided on another partition and my most recent registry backups (10 daily) which I had backed up to another partition with Scanreg.ini. For anyone who's reading, another good example of a reason to partition your drives and put your good stuff on separate partitions from the OS.

    Has something similar to the above happened to any users of True Image or Drive Image?. Can I expect the same "CANCEL" behavior from the two or are they more intuitive than Ghost?

    If I don't respond immediately, sorry...I'm still tweaking my stuff back to where I was a few days ago. THANKS!

    [i]Edited by me--OK, it was a few thousand word before I deleted all the cuss words.[i]

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    <hr>...Has something similar to the above happened to any users of True Image or Drive Image?. Can I expect the same "CANCEL" behavior from the two or are they more intuitive than Ghost?...<hr>
    As you may know, I have extensive (years!) of experience with Drive Image and have recently started using True Image successfully. Thankfully, I've never had to abort a restore operation, so I hope I don't EVER really know or learn the answer to this question. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> However, it wouldn't surprise me if something similar MIGHT happen with one of these products. I'm guessing, but if the program sees that the image file is not corrupt and starts the restore, it seems that the first thing it must do is WRITE to the destination drive and one would think that in that event, it would overwrite the boot track, directory, FAT and other "important" stuff right away. If I were to hit cancel somewhere along, I would expect to have to start over. The closest I've ever come to the situation was that one time with Drive Image, about 80% of the way through a restoration, <img src=/w3timages/censored.gif alt=censored border=0> Drive Image decided I didn't have enough "low memory" or some such innocuous message and it aborted on its own! I did modify my boot diskette at the time, start over and successfully restore my image. Lucky for me too - it was my manager's computer!

    It seems that the thing that really put the bumblebee in your operation was the "accidental" deletion of those files! I always get nervous when I see folks in The Lounge talking about cleaning up their hard drives, for you can just "feel" the pain of someone who's gonna delete something they shouldn't. That's why it's at least comforting to see the wisdom in the oft given advice to first rename or at least move files to the Recycle Bin for awhile to make sure.....

    I know it's no comfort to you, Mike, but I do feel your anguish. I'd take bets it never happens again, huh?

  3. #3
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    Heehee, you can bet that will NEVER happen again!

    I just wish they were in the recycle bin, but each was about 5 gigs~similar in size to my other image files~ so they were too big to fit. I guess this is one of the things that led me to believe they were remnants of one of my first few backup images where I just ran it "out of the box".

    The thing that really chaps me is that before it starts writing to the drive, why doesn't it check to see if it has all of the stuff it needs first. Heck even the standard Seagate backup that came with W98 checks to see if you have the file it needs. If you're gonna cook pancakes, you would check first to make sure you have all of the ingredients, no?

    Hell, it's all funny now (that it's over)!

  4. #4
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    YES,YES, and YES this has happened to me too with TI (and three other similar programs). Usually the backup works ok but what @$)^#&^% <img src=/w3timages/censored.gif alt=censored border=0> good is it if the restore pukes <img src=/S/puke.gif border=0 alt=puke width=60 height=15>?!! Fortunately I was able to get all my money back but I've been forever burned to even try yet another backup/restore program (4 failed badly, I'm not trying for #5).

    To respond to another poster as well, on another image restore, I never did cancel, but the image for some reason failed to restore (reporting some image error after reading CD #3). The end result was also a useless, non-bootable PC. I worked with the tech support folks but as is too often the caes, their answer was "I dunno" <img src=/S/doh.gif border=0 alt=doh width=15 height=15>

    I highly advise everyone to not be so self-assured that you're safe just because you have a backup image. Until you've had to use that image, you can not say for sure that it'll work. If possible, test it on a PC you don't care about (as I did a few times - but the restore still failed even on new, clean computers).

    I give up on using these backup/restore programs! After four failing miserably on new and near-new PCs, they should pay me to test their software for them.

    <img src=/S/hosed.gif border=0 alt=hosed width=73 height=24>
    Deb

  5. #5
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    Well, I'm gonna try it again in a few days...AFTER making a good old Seagate backup immediately before the Ghost backup. And I think I'm gonna clone each partition separately in addition to the whole drive. If I had done that, then I could (maybe) have restored only the C partition after Ghost did me wrong!

  6. #6
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    As another addition to this saga, I would say that Norton Ghost, as well as the other imaging programs are overated for the average user. I'm sure that the enterprise edition(s) for outputting cloned workstations might justify the cost, but after tinkering around with Ghost for a few days, I have come to the rather simplistic conclusion that:

    What's wrong with the Seagate backup included with W98 for W98 users (can't speak for the upper OSs, like 200,XP, I'm guessing they have a restore point)?

    If you backup each drive or partion using the built-in OS backup (Seagate in W98 case) to another physically separated drive, you protect yourself from most mishaps, no? Same thing that Ghost does. Shucks, thats what saved me from having to reconfigure all my system settings for >1G ram for W98, custom paging file sizes, and various other neat stuff after the before mentioned catastrophe. You can always start from a W98 boot disk, reinstall W98, and then restore...

  7. #7
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    I think you're right Mike, about the average user, and probably because the majority of average users don't progress much above the beginner level. Most people I've encountered in my travels have not (yet) experienced a crash and don't realize the importance of a good backup. Then too, some are afraid of having to learn too much techie stuff - which obviously isn't true, at least not for something as valuable as a backup. MY major objection to earlier methods of backing up was floppies, tape or CDs as the destination. I really started imaging when at work I needed the ability to "clone" standard setups for new or replacement PCs. When I realized the simplicity and speed involved, I began using imaging as a periodic backup vehicle both at work and at home.

    As sad and work generating as yours and Deb's experiences were, I think they were the exception rather than the rule. Of course I don't use Ghost, so I can't speak for its reliability. But I and many others I'm aware of have made many, many restorations on different systems and even in jury-rigged configurations, without problems. I truly hope you and Deb find a solution you can live with. Finally, keep in mind that "restore points" don't accomplish complete backups, only system settings and configuration info. Good luck to you both!

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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    I've now stopped using Ghost, thanks.

    As for backups, I'm fed up with finding they don't work when the OS is upgraded. I lost data to MSBackup back at Win95 and to Seagate which doesn't install in WinXP so backup files useless without reinstalling Win98.

    I think I have the solution. Its a program called ZipBackup and is advertised in WOW and WWW with a discount and is only a few $$s. It's USP is to backup into bog standard zip files, i.e. its just a functional front end to a zip program. Voila, backups can be checked easily via Explorer and carted off to CD or other media with a guarantee that even if ZipBackup can't for any reason in the future put them back where they belong Explorer will allow me to.

  9. #9
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    Good luck with it, David. For as long as Woody has been advertising it, I don't remember seeing anyone comment on their experiences with the program. If you get time later, you could let us know how you make out. I tried it once and for no reason in particular, decided to keep on "imaging" instead. I don't even remember if you can backup "system" files while the OS is running, or if it is truly a user-data-only kind of program. I didn't see any mention of that topic on their web pages ( http://www.zipbackup.com/partners/wowmm/?source=wowmm )

  10. #10
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    Hi, I've just done a backup test of the Windows folder and it rather looks as if the Registry is not backed up. This suggests that it isn't a complete backup solution. I will check with ZipBackup and see what they say.

    It seems that we need not one but two backup strategies, one for the useful stuff and one for the system. Perhaps Ghost for the C drive and ZipBackup for the Documents & Settings. I must confess that I'm far more bothered about ensuring that I have access to the data which is valuable and accept that there will be an occasional enforced reinstall of OS and programs. Until Microsoft make Windows impregnable. Oh! Was that a pig I saw flying past my Windows?

  11. #11
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    <hr>...isn't a complete backup solution... <hr>
    That's what I think, but I couldn't remember. For this reason, I've had two kinds of backup procedures in place for a number of years now. Every night, during the night, I run a file backup program (similar to ZipBackup) to make an exact "file" copy of stuff like my email, bookmarks, spreadsheets, word processor, financial and other "user data." I send mine to a backup machine on my LAN. I don't keep ANY of my data in My Documents, so it means I have to pick up a few folders. I've been using a program called Backup Now, but as you've already found out, there's plenty of choices out there, some even free! Usually once a week I then make an image of each of my complete partitions, to that same machine on the LAN. As I said, I used to use Drive Image but have switched to TrueImage. Wishes for continued good luck to ya!

  12. #12
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    Re: A Few Thousand Words about Norton Ghost

    ZipBackup have responded:

    ZipBackup is not designed to backup the Windows System files.

    There are a couple of problems with backing up system and program files.
    First, if you suffer a catastrophic computer loss, the problem may be a
    virus or bad entries in the system registry. These problems may have been
    backed up along with the rest of your system.

    For the past couple of years, Microsoft, and many other software vendors,
    have required that their software be activated on a specific computer. If
    you need to restore your data to a new computer due to loss or destruction
    of your current computer, you can not restore Windows or activated software
    to the new computer. End.

    I think you are right with your 2-step approach and it is sensible for the partition images to go onto the network. I shall review my own procedures in the light of this.

    Regards

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