Product: Norton Ghost 14.0
System Requirements: Windows Vista Home Basic/Home Premium/Business/Ultimate
Price: £39.99, ?59.99 $69.99
ANOTHER YEAR passes and another version of the Norton Ghost disc imaging software lands on our desk for a review. This time around Symantec said it had included some useful additions since we last looked at it in July 2007, so we thought we’d call in its successor.
From the outset there appears to be almost no change in appearance or operation between the last edition and Ghost 14.0. There are some small notable differences though that would be easily missed by the untrained eye, or someone that doesn’t RTFM. One of which is that they’ve dropped support for anything below Windows XP, leaving the 2000 users and below out in the cold. Symantec have also increased here the addressable partition size, from 2TB to 16TB.
The other minor inclusion is the Feedback tool. It’s annoyingly always present on the main page and should be under the help tab rather than anywhere else. It does appear Symantec comes off looking a bit like a needy girlfriend, with this visible reassurance.
Norton Ghost 14.0 ? Send Feedback
The Lights Out Restore ability is a nice idea, where a disc image is said to be capable of restoration from a fairly low-level approach. Effectively, once fully installed it acts almost identically to a Symantec Ghost Recovery Disc (SRD). Only now, this function is built onto the HDD and is not run from CD. The only the real difference between this and the actual SRD, is that a thin client, host-only version of PC Anywhere appears when it starts up. This provides the remote access for the non-supplied, fully-blown application, where all the same restore functions can be accessed and performed.
Ghost is still being sold in a single licence format, which is very curious when other packages around are not. The likes of Norton Internet Security and Norton 360 all have three licenses, which could be a lot more useful here. Especially seeing as another tool they’re touting in this release is Norton Ghost Server Connection. It’s a new function where a Ghost client agent can be deployed to other computers from 14.0, where backups can be managed and run. This is all well and good in itself, only another license for each and every computer used is needed and is not supplied.
Norton Ghost 14.0 ? Offsite Copy
Another new ability in the latest version is Offsite Copy, an option to add to the bog standard backup places. Where additionally the Ghost image is offloaded to different and separate location: networked drive, another directory or even an FTP site. After the initial backup is complete, Ghost reports that the task is finished ? when this is not the case. The task of copying the image to the selected locations hasn't even started. The other qualm we have is more of a missing addition to Ghost. With Norton 360, Symantec provides, as a part of the purchase price, access to either 2 or 10GB of secure off-line storage for backing up files, which could have been a useful addition in 14.0 too.
Norton Ghost 14.0 ? ThreatCon Triggers
The final useful addition we found in Ghost 14.0, is a new back-up trigger. This runs off the Symantec Threat Con level, where HQ is polled every 30 minutes to see if there’s a viral or security outbreak. If there is, and conditions are met, then a backup is automatically kicked off to secure the system and data. A welcome and well-thought out inclusion, this is also seen in other Symantec suites, such as Backup Exec.
For testing we resorted to our t-rusty auld DELL 600sc with a PIII 3.06Mhz proc, 512MB RAM and two 120 E-IDE drives. This was just to show the possible worst-case scenario, knowing full well Ghost will fare better on most PCs currently around. It comfortably runs Vista Business Edition OS, with 10.1GB of storage space taken up and 101GB free. The PC is of a reliable build, a solid performer and a decent measure of what 14.0 can get away with running on.
In both of the benchmark tests we performed a normal full backup of the C drive, with standard recommended compression and common options enabled.
Norton Ghost 12.0 ? Backup test
As you can see from the screen shot above, the complete C: drive imaging took 13 minutes and 5 seconds to complete.
Norton Ghost 14.0 ? Backup test
The full backup of the C: Drive, with Ghost 14.0 took just 12 minutes and 47 seconds ? a noticeable improvement. Do take into account, that those results in a much better system with lots more data would have a greater margin of time distance between them.
When it came to the restoration of the two backed-up images, we needed to boot into the SRD of each version to action the test. As we couldn’t really take screen shots from this, even though we toyed with the idea of running it virtually and grabbing images, you’ll just have to take our word on the results. Ghost 12.0 restored its previously backed-up disc image of 5.3GB in 8 minutes and 51 seconds. Ghost 14.0 restored its own backed-up image too of 5.4GB in 9 minutes and 11 seconds. A minor discrepancy in size and restoration times from version to version, from what’s expected which would normally be an improvement on its successor.
Really, this should be 12.5 and not 14.0 ? as there isn’t a great deal of change to warrant a new product in our opinion. It could also seriously mislead Joe Public with them seeing version 14.0 out, not knowing there wasn’t a 13 and thinking there’s been greater change than there actually is. In saying that, the support licence is only for a year when purchased. If it came down to biting the bullet with 12 or going 14, go with the higher number always, if for the support updates alone.
ThreatCon automatic backup triggers, offsite backup
Licencing, LightsOut Recovery, No Halloween edition of Ghost 13
Not much has really changed from 12.0