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Thread: Ghosting

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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    Question Ghosting

    I'm not having any problems with my PC at the moment, but I think this will be good to know when I start to have them, or when I think I need to reformat. I've read some previous threads on here, but haven't found all the answers to my questions.

    I understand that ghosting takes and image of the drive as it is, and then copies it as a file. How do you save this file if you want to reformat? The largest removable media I have is a CD/RW. Will this do? I'm sure the file will be bigger than 600MB won't it though? Can the file be separated onto many disks?

    I've heard of Norton Ghost, people seem to recommend it a lot. Problem is, it costs about £40, and I'd rather reformat without ghosting if it's that much. Is there a free alternative to norton ghost?

    If I "take an image" of my computer as it is now, using some ghosting software, then ghost it to another HDD, as far as I know, it's be like having two identical computers. Is it best to take an image of a drive just after a format after you've installed all programs to avoid taking an image of a drive with loads of junk on it?

    What happens if you install/uninstall a program months after you take an image of a drive? Can only that program on the ghost file be changed, or would I need to re-ghost? Again, wouldn't this be best after a reformat?

    Sorry about the mass of questions, but ghosting seems useful and very efficient, and I'd like to know more .

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    Flower Child stytagm's Avatar
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    I don't know if there's a free alternative, but I think I got an OEM version for about £12 (Hope it's not dodgy anyway).

    If you change your hard disk (eg install something new) I think you need to make a whole new ghost image, rather than modify an old one, but it's a surprisingly quick process. The images are also compressed, so empty space on a disk reduces to almost nothing, and the data is compressed too.

    A lot of people install to a stable base platform, just windows, patches and drivers, then take an image for safe keeping, if all goes wrong you can very quickly get back to working system - usefull.

    Another common use is just before a major software or hardware change, take an image, again if it all goes pear shaped you can very quickly get back to your "last known good".

    When I installed my new hard disk, I took an image of the old partition, and ghost let me write it back to a much larger partition on the new drive, Brilliant

    There might also be a feature to split images into CD sized chunks (ie 650mb) for storage, but most people just stash them on a spare hard disk.

    Hope this answers some of your questions. I'm no expert though and this is the extent of my experience.

    Andrew.
    They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them.

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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply .

    I don't have a spare hard drive, so could someone who uses ghost say if it's possible to spit a file to several disks?

    I didn't think of looking for an OEM version - that's a good idea, and it's much more cheaper than the full price retail version.

    The whole point of reformating is to "start a fresh". Therefore, if I installed something new, or updated windows or something, and ghosted that months after the first "clean" ghost after reformating, it wouldn't be clean would it? It'd be full the little things in your PC that you don't want won't it?

    I understand you can create a "general purpose" ghost, with windows and all major programs on it, but if I changed something like if I did a SP2 style update, then that won't be right after a reformat. Therefore, won't the ghost image be "un pure" if you see what I mean?

    I don't know if what I said made sense, but I hope you understant what I'm getting at.

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    Yes it's fairly easy to span an image across several CD's

    Symantec have a ton of support docs for ghost and the one I've linked relates to splitting an image to fit onto a CD

    http://tinyurl.com/3xjm9

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    Bah Humbug. Dooms's Avatar
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    You can also Ghost to a DVD if you have a dvd burner.

    There is no problem ghosting from one hdd to another (if you replace it) however you couldnt use ones PC's ghost image on another becuase of driver issues.

    When i do my new build ill be making a ghost of the PC with all drivers, network settings, winamp, firefox, etc etc so it makes life so much easier when computer starts slowing and needs that format

    edit: about the free alt. I havnt seen one... Norton seems the best ?
    Last edited by Dooms; 04-03-2005 at 06:11 PM.

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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    When you save a ghost image, do you do it right after a format, or do you do it anytime (ie when you do a major software change)?

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    Bah Humbug. Dooms's Avatar
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    Well i couldnt be bothered to do it after every software change becuase it takes time and tbh its a pain for me since it involves installed a floppy drive to boot from floppy.

    I would only do it after a fresh install so you dont get any crap on ur ghost so you KNOW it would be nice to go back to.

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    Civilian Nick F's Avatar
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    you could also make another partition on your HD and use it for backups. I have done this and cretaed a 60GB partition so that my system gets backed up once a week to.

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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    Well, I think that between me doing a full install, and then ghosting it and then months later realising I need to reformat, I change what programs I have so much that there's no point in ghosting for me. The only purpose I see it as having for me would be for backups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajbrun
    Well, I think that between me doing a full install, and then ghosting it and then months later realising I need to reformat, I change what programs I have so much that there's no point in ghosting for me. The only purpose I see it as having for me would be for backups.
    That's not true. Norton Ghost 9.0 does incremental backup images. Just like you would a normal backup. I sees what's different from the original backup image and only changes what you've done since then. We use Ghost all the time at work and it saves us ALOT of time.
    The best thing to do, is get a DVD-/+RW and save your image to that, then put it in a safe spot. Saving to a HD has a good and bad effect, good: not limited to disc size(650MB or 4.7GB), easy access from remote clients, and easy access to local computer; bad: if the whole drive goes bad, you lost your image
    Quote Originally Posted by Dooms
    however you couldnt use ones PC's ghost image on another becuase of driver issues.
    That's not completely true. We do that all the time at work, we have a WinXP image, and we install to different model desktop and rackmount systems. Yes, you'll have driver issue, but that's fixable with a chipset driver install for that particular system....
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    HEXUS.timelord. Zak33's Avatar
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    I used Drive Image 7 and its amazing. It gave options as to the level of compression fro burning to various CD's and eventually, with Jiffs guidance I sorted it.
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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islasian

    That's not true. Norton Ghost 9.0 does incremental backup images. Just like you would a normal backup. I sees what's different from the original backup image and only changes what you've done since then. We use Ghost all the time at work and it saves us ALOT of time.
    Yes, but the point that I'm trying to make is that even if it does do incremental changes, then it's still not as good as a complete reformat (unless I'm missing something). As you use your computer, you gather random junk from the internet. If ghost does incremental changes, then it saves all that junk to a ghost image too. Therefore, what's the point of doing it if you're going to be keeping the junk anyway?

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    Bah Humbug. Dooms's Avatar
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    That's not completely true. We do that all the time at work, we have a WinXP image, and we install to different model desktop and rackmount systems. Yes, you'll have driver issue, but that's fixable with a chipset driver install for that particular system....
    ok with XP i admit its doable however its sloppy and i wouldnt recommend it - same as you should format after a big hardware change really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajbrun
    Yes, but the point that I'm trying to make is that even if it does do incremental changes, then it's still not as good as a complete reformat (unless I'm missing something). As you use your computer, you gather random junk from the internet. If ghost does incremental changes, then it saves all that junk to a ghost image too. Therefore, what's the point of doing it if you're going to be keeping the junk anyway?
    You're right, it's going to save what ever *junk* you get from the internet. The point of ghosting is, when you achieve your *ideal* system setup, you ghost it, so as to avoiding having to install everything over again. The only way you can avoid getting *junk* on you computer from the internet, is being careful of where you surf, but, who does that right ?
    When you Ghost, you wipe out your driver just like you were doing a format and reinstalling your OS, drivers, add-on software..etc... but it does it all in one step for you....
    But, if you're really worried about getting junk and all that, run some spyware and virus checker, then create *restore points*(assuming you have XP) before doing any other software add-on that might screw up your system.

    Here's one point of Ghosting(I'm sure there are more), you get all the software you want and have your system setup(lets say you had installed Office2003 & registered it ). Your drive goes bad, you have to re-install your OS, software package, etc... You try installing Office again, you will have reached you registration limit and have to call it in for them to give you another key so the software remains functional after 30 days... with Ghost, you don't have to re-register every product you had installed, it's all there setup on your system already...
    Quote Originally Posted by Dooms
    ok with XP i admit its doable however its sloppy and i wouldnt recommend it - same as you should format after a big hardware change really.
    It's not sloppy, just blow away your drive and install the new image. It's alot easier to update drivers that it is to go thru the whole *Windows Update* crap everytime you format and re-install the OS. And why would you format after a hardware change? Just go into computer management, uninstall the hardware(s), shutdown pc, install your new hardare, and install drivers..etc, for your new hardware(s). You are wasting more time formating and updating windows everytime you do a big hardware change if you go that route....
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