Norton Ghost Quick Start Guide

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:-

• Launch the program in/from true DOS, not a DOS window from Windows.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

• Select your imaging options (this step is not necessary)

• Select Local -> Partition -> To Image

• Select your source drive

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

• Select your source partition

• Select your image destination

Name the image file 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 (Fast is good)
[For those using the Windows interface with Ghost v2003, you'll find the Compression options in the Advanced Settings]

• Begin dumping

• After image dumping is complete, you should get the message: Dump Completed Successfully.

• If successful, Check the image 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


To RESTORE an image:-

• Select Local -> Partition -> From Image

• Select the drive where the image is stored

• Select image file (*.gho)

• Select the destination partition to be restored/overwritten

• Confirm the dreaded overwrite question [Make sure you know what the heck you're doing here!] 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.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

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.

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