Ghost and Partition Magic Product Reviews

By Thomas Weeks, 2001-05-10

Norton Ghost
Ghost 6.x is a great utility for backing up or cloning hard drives, among other things. "Ghost's ability to make copies of entire partitions and hard disks allows you to maintain copies for emergency recovery and perform mass installation (roll-outs) of similarly configured computers. When writing to a new disk, Ghost creates partitions and formats the drive in just one operation."

Hard Drive/Partition Cloning
Ghost can be used to clone single partitions, or whole drives (with boot/MBR info intact) to either very large compressed image files, to a CD-R, to a tape drive, or can create a sector by sector clone to another hard drive for a type of "software RAID backup". It can also be used to "snap shot" a system before you do a major upgrade, or migrate someone from one machine to another. And since the cloning feature can auto-fill a larger hard drive from a smaller one, it can be used to (for example) move someone from an older 4GB hard drive to a larger new 20GB hard drive and loose zero data!

File System Compatability
The newest version of Ghost can handle most any file system (partition type) including Linux/ext2, only copying the "used space" of the partition's files; or can simply do a block for block image transfer no matter what the file system/partition type is.

Many Uses
Many training centers use Ghost type programs in their classrooms to "reload" fresh OS and application distribution installs on their classroom machines before each class to ensure complete class to class uniformity.

Some IT centers use Ghost to do mass installs to multiple machines at once via it's ability to do network multicasting. This technology would allow you to install the same hard drive image to 20 machines, over the network, all using the same data stream, in just minutes! Or one a machine by machine basis using an auto-booting CD-ROM.

And did I mention SPEED? You can often get from between 8-24GB of actual data (that's used content) per hour! That's MUCH faster than ANY tape drive!

If it's speed and robustness you're looking for, this is a GREAT all around utility. Ghost is WELL worth the $40-60 they ask for it, especially if you're looking for a good, solid, data cloning, migration, and backup tool all in one. Just one word of warning for mass installation and multicasting installation setups, read the fine print on their licensing. It's almost laughably rediculous!

For a trailware version, check out this link.

Partition Magic
--Keep yours eyes open for a review soon--

For a trailware version, check out this link.