Symantec updates Ghost utility

Symantec is updating Norton Ghost, which clones a system for easier upgrade, backup, and recovery functions, by adding Microsoft Corp. Windows XP support and network functions useful to small businesses.

The new version of the program, announced this week, will be available on 15 September and is priced at AUD$159.95. It is aimed at small businesses as well as home users. Multiuser packages for businesses will also be available.

Friendlier Approach

The market leader in enterprise-level disk imaging products, Symantec has previously differentiated Norton Ghost from its more powerful Symantec Ghost Corporate Edition by cutting out some of the high-end features, such as the capability to multicast data over a network. But although Norton Ghost was designed for small business and home and personal use, it has been criticized as hard to figure out.

Symantec's prime goal with Norton Ghost 2003 is to eliminate those kinds of criticisms and offer a capable but easy-to-use program. To achieve that end, Norton Ghost 2003 provides its first Windows interface--one consistent with other Norton programs' look and feel. Buyers wanted a program they could run directly from Windows, according to Thom Bailey, a Symantec senior product manager. Although Ghost still shells out to DOS to complete its operations, Symantec has eliminated the previous version's requirement that you use a bootable floppy disk.

Symantec uses the program's new "virtual partition" technology to eliminate the need for using the boot disk in most situations. However, the Ghost Boot Wizard can still create boot floppies or CDs for emergency restore operations. The update also adds native support for Windows NT File System (NTFS) partitions and disks, as well expanding its Linux support. Norton Ghost can now back up, restore, or clone EXT3 and EXT2 file systems.

Backup Options

Although disk imaging products like Ghost are famous for their capability to let you easily make exact duplicates of entire hard drives for system upgrades, they are also remarkably effective for backing up an entire working system with all its tweaks intact. Users can relatively quickly create images of the data on their disks for storage as backup. Clearly, getting a foothold in the backup market will expand Ghost's penetration in the small business and home markets. To bring its functionality closer to you, the new interface offers easy access to its primary functions, backup and restore. It also provides a view log that lets you track the history of Ghost tasks.

Symantec also enhanced the backup functionality by providing support for CD-RW and rewritable DVD as well as support for hard drives and other logical devices. The update also supports external hard drives through USB 1.1 or 2.0 connections, as well as FireWire (IEEE 1394) storage devices.

Ghost 2003 has improved network support, which small businesses will find useful. Users can now save and restore images from network drives. This not only adds to convenience, but it also enables the images to be included in your company's regular backup rotation for added data security.

The program also provides a utility to wipe your hard drive securely. Ghost is also bundled into Symantec's Norton SystemWorks Pro, which is priced at $100.

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