RADIFIED
Guide to Norton Ghost

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Norton Ghost Quick Start

This guide is intended for novices .. for noobies with no prior imaging experience. Symantec states that Ghost is designed for the technically savvy .. and for the technically proficient computer user. This is probably cuz a seemingly innocent misstep can wipe out all your data: your whole hard drive .. gone. Poof!

A recent warning says: "Caution: Norton Ghost is a powerful utility program that performs complex operations on your computer. Use this product carefully as some operations are data destructive."

Like most powerful things, Ghost can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But there's no need to fear. I'll show you where the danger lies, and steer you clear of the bottomless overwrite pit [screen shot]. This guide makes it so easy to create & restore Ghost images it's almost scary.

The heart of this guide is contained in the page addressing image creation, where I take a detailed approach. But if you're the ready-fire-aim type, who prefers a bare-bones, stripped-down version, and want to get busy imaging right away .. the way to use Ghost goes like this:

[
Note: the following steps are designed for Ghost 2002, which is configured from DOS. If you're using Ghost 2003, or Ghost v9.0, which can be configured from Windows, look these steps over. Once you understand them, it will become obvious how to apply them to the Windows-based interface, which is easier to use. The concepts remain the same (i.e. select source & destination). Only the interface is different.

Note also, that the following steps are designed to use Ghost from DOS, using a Ghost boot floppy. While v2003 now makes it *possible* to configure Ghost from Windows, it is still *recommended* you use the DOS-based method (with v2003) from a Ghost boot floppy, because experience has shown this method to be more reliable and sometimes necessary (in the case Windows won't boot or your hard drive dies).

Norton Ghost v2003 comes with the retail version of Ghost 9.0. You'll find it located on a separate CD in the Ghost 9.0 box]:

To CREATE an image:
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Launch the program [screen shot] in/from true DOS, not a DOS window from Windows.
Select your imaging options (this step is not necessary) [screen shot]
Select Local -> Partition -> To Image [screen shot]
Select your source drive [screen shot]
Select your source partition [screen shot]
Select your image destination [screen shot]
Name the image file [screen shot] Read step #8 here about potential problems with DOS truncating long file names that exceed 8 characters for spanned images that exceed 2-GB.
Select compression [screen shot] (Fast is good)
[For those using the Windows interface with Ghost v2003, you'll find the Compression options in the Advanced Settings]
Begin dumping [screen shot]
After image dumping is complete [screen shot], you should get the message: Dump Completed Successfully [screen shot].
If successful, Check the image [screen shot] to verify its validity and integrity. Ghost will walk thru all the steps of restoring the image except writing data to disk. Here's the message you want to see > [screen shot].
Quit [screen shot].

To RESTORE an image:
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Select Local -> Partition -> From Image [screen shot]
Select the drive where the image is stored [screen shot]
Select image file (*.gho) [screen shot]
Select the destination partition to be restored/overwritten [screen shot]
Confirm the dreaded overwrite question [Make sure you know what the heck you're doing here!] [screen shot] and let 'er rip!

RESTORING an image is the most dangerous part of using Ghost, because you can *LOSE* data if you over-write the wrong partition/disk (destination). It has been done by people unfamilair with the program.

Once the data on the destination (partition/disk) is over-written, there's nothing you can do to get it back. I've seen grown men cry over this. I am jumping up & down, waving my arms. Make sure you select your destination correctly. If unsure, QUIT out and seek help.

Also make sure you select the correct image to restore. Restoring the wrong image is not as bad as restoring an image to the wrong destination, because you can always go back re-restore the correct image. I made this mistake myself once (when I was over-tired). It can be unsettling, until you figure out what happened.

The main difference between Create and Restore is the To and From selection. If you want to image to/from an entire hard disk instead of an individual partition, select 'Disk' instead of 'Partition'.

You won't be able to tell the difference between your original system configuration (at the time of image creation), and one restored from a Ghost image. At least, I haven't been able to. And I've run systems that were based on images of systems that were based on images of ... you get the point.

The system (image) can be restored numerous times and you'd never know it. And you can create a new image of a system previously restored from an older image.

An Important Limitation

This might be a good place to mention a particular limitation associated with Ghost. Ghost will not let you write an image to the source partition/disk. In other words, your source partition/disk cannot be the same as your destination. Put yet another way, if you only have one physical hard drive (hard disk) in your system, you'll need at least two partitions on that (single, physical) hard drive in order to use Ghost.

You can also write images to either a CD or DVD burner. But if you have no burner, and you only have one hard disk drive, with a single partition [usually labeled C: drive], you won't be able to use Ghost. [See my Guide to Partitioning Strategies for more info along these lines.]

If you think about if for a moment, you'll see the problem. If the source and destination were the same, that disk/partition would continue to fill as Ghost wrote the image to it. Soon, you'd be imaging the newly-created image (back to the source), until you eventually ran out of space. If you don't understand this concept, don't worry about it. All you need to know is that your destination needs to be *different* from your source.

The *best* way to use Ghost is to create an image of your system partition (where Windows resides) onto a separate physical hard drive (not a separate partition on the same hard drive), which means your computer would need at least two physical hard drives. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll explain what I mean on the next page.

For those seeking more imaging information, let's take a closer look at the program.


GHOST is an acronym that stands for General Hardware Oriented System Transfer. This wonder program was developed by a company named Binary Research - based in Auckland, New Zealand. Symantec bought BR in the summer of ’98 for US$27.5 mil. I read great things about BR. The purchase by Symantec was controversial, with some speculating the buy-out would ruin the small company.

Speaking of which, the nice folks at Binary Research [who originally developed Ghost] asked me to mention their training course for the Corporate version, which contains more bells & whistles than the average home user needs:

Rad, I'd like to compliment you on your Ghost guide. I can see how it would help the new or occasional user. However, I was surprised there weren't more contributions from users of the Network version. [Ghost Solution Suite]

I'd like to mention that we offer a training course for the Corporate Edition. As the original developers of the software, we also developed courseware. Since 1999, we've conducted training workshops at our Milwaukee location, as well as other locations in the US, Canada and the UK.

If you ever receive requests for info on Ghost training courses, we'd appreciate you passing along the details of our workshops. Heck, if you'd mention it on your site, we'd appreciate it even more! Thanks for the help you provide to users of Ghost.

Douglas Wells
Director of Training & Consulting
Binary Research International Inc.
5215 N. Ironwood Rd. Ste. 200
Glendale, WI 53217
Toll-Free: 888.446.7898

With a Ghost image, you have everything you need [in >>compressed<< format] to restore your system (either an individual partition or an entire hard drive) to its original, working condition .. should it ever fail .. for whatever reason. Just knowing that can help you sleep better at night.

You'll find Ghost to be particularly magical if you've ever had to reinstall your system while on the phone with a tech support guy .. especially if you get one who's having a bad hair day .. or somebody who thinks you're a moron.

I've found that Ghost takes on an particularly supernatural glow after about the 3rd time you hear a tech support guy say, "Golly, I've never heard of *that* problem before .. looks like we're gonna have to reformat that hard drive again."

Once you realize how simple it is to restore your system, you'll become bolder with your PC. The dialogue box that asks, "Are you really sure you wanna delete this file?" no longer makes me sweat. Many guys who know how to use Ghost report that chicks find them irresistible, and that women want to bear their children. =)

But before you start thinking this sounds too good to be true, I need to issue a caveat.

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