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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Looking for an image program to run from a self-booting USB HD

    I've been using Norton Ghost 2003 (bootable DOS version) for years to image my computers. I am (probably not surprised) that it is having a bit of a problem imaging a new Win7 laptop.

    What I have done in the past is format a small DOS partition on a removable USB hard drive and put Ghost on that partition. I format the rest of the drive as NTFS, and save my image to that partition. Ghost for DOS can usually access the NTFS partition.

    For some reason on this laptop Ghost locks up if I try to even display the contents on the NTFS partition in the save box. I have tried with all kinds of command line switches without success.

    At the moment I have the laptop open an am using the SATA interface from the CD drive instead of USB and it does work and the images are usable. This is obviously not a viable long term solution.

    The other thing that is annoying is that I have to take ownership of the image if if I want to extract a file under W7 using ghost Explorer because of the way W7 handles permissions.

    I am certainly not opposed to upgrading to a more modern imaging program, but have been unable to find anything the meets my criteria:

    1. Needs to be able to run backup & restore both from OUTSIDE of Windows, and do a total restore from bare metal.
    2. Needs to be scriptable to the extent that now I have the computer set to boot first from USB. So when the drive is plugged in it boots from it. I have a small batch file that creates a folder with the date and automatically saves the image to that folder.
    3. Needs to have the ability to extract individual files from the image if needed.

    The newer version of Ghost appear to be more of a Windows backup program, run from within Windows and and not a true image program.

    Anyone have any ideas on either getting Ghost to work, or a recommendation for another product that will meet what I am looking for?

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
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    I use Acronis True Image 2013. It can create Images from both inside Windows and from the Acronis Rescue Boot Disk. I usually use the Rescue Disk.

    With the Plus Pack from Acronis you can restore an Image to a new PC.

    You can indeed extract single files very easily.

    I cannot answer the scripting question as I have never used Acronis in this way, but I do know Acronis is very full featured.
    Have a Great Day! Ted

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  3. #3
    WS Lounge VIP
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    Jun 2010
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    As far as I can tell, True Image doesn't allow scripting. The server version of the software does (Acronis Backup and Recovery), but the licenses for that version are 10 times as expensive.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    Have a look at this thread for a possibility.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!


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  5. #5
    3 Star Lounger
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    Dec 2009
    Northern California
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    I've been using Norton Ghost 2003 (bootable DOS version) for years to image my computers. I am (probably not surprised) that it is having a bit of a problem imaging a new Win7 laptop.
    Anyone have any ideas on either getting Ghost to work, or a recommendation for another product that will meet what I am looking for?

    Ghost 2003 was a great program and one I still occasionally use for quick DOS-based images/restores. I've even used it to image and successfully restore a Win8 partition, but the program does have significant restrictions.

    One problem is that, being DOS-based, there is no native USB support in the program or in the operating system, so you're at the mercy of how fully a given computer's BIOS provides 16-bit, real-mode USB support. That can vary from one computer to another, and IMHE support isn't consistent enough across different hardware to be considered widely reliable. It may have worked well enough on your previous computer, but the BIOS in your new laptop may not work the same way. Even when it works, you're sometimes stuck at USB 1 speeds--again, it's dependent on the BIOS. And note booting to DOS may not be an option at all on the new, BIOS-less, UEFI computers now reaching the market.

    Another problem is that Ghost 2003 cannot handle HDDs larger than about 1TB. No way around that--the limitation is in the capacity of the counters used internally in the program. 1TB was huge in v2003's heyday, but it restricts its usefulness on a lot of modern HDDs.

    Another significant limitation is v2003 knows nothing about BCDs. It knew about XP's boot.ini file, and if a given restore required editing of the boot.ini file to make the restored XP bootable, Ghost 2003 knew how to handle it. But if a given restore requires BCD editing to make a restored Vista/Win7 bootable, Ghost 2003 has no clue what to do. Note that a BCD edit isn't always required, and if not then v2003 will work successfully. But if a BCD edit is necessary v2003 can successfully restore the partition's contents but you'd need to follow that by manually repair the BCD before the partition would boot properly.

    Because of these issues, I wouldn't consider it worthwhile for you to try and keep Ghost 2003 limping along. It's time to move on.

    Many old-timers in the old Ghost forums moved on to TeraByte Image For DOS or Image For Windows. The attraction of the TeraByte products is you can restore the same image from either DOS or Windows, so there's a chance you might be able to continue with your current methodology just by replacing Ghost with IFD and lightly editing your scripts for the change. Note most of the competing products (from Acronis, Macrium, Easus, Paragon, et al) can create a boot CD to work outside of Windows, but it's either a linux or WinPE boot disk so scripting/editing won't be as simple, if at all possible.

    The TeraByte products are fully functional, time-limited shareware, so it wouldn't cost you anything to download IFD and try it to see if it will work for you. But do keep in mind that sticking with a DOS-based solution is an option whose days are numbered.

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