Norton Ghost is a widely recognized utility that receives great appreciation for providing its users with such an effortless solution for file and system backup/recovery, bundled with a versatile set of tools to deliver all one would expect and even more.
Installation & Requirements
After a few moments spent on pre-configuring the product, the installer deploys the actual setup process of Norton Ghost, right after you accept the license agreement and choose between the default and custom install modes. The installation is finished in a couple of minutes and you only have to reboot your system to start enjoying your copy of Norton Ghost.
At first run you will have to enter a license key, in case you bought one, or start testing the 30-day trial. Additionally, the program will prompt you to activate the automatic update function and launch a setup wizard to guide you through the configuration process. It is possible that some of the updates installed by the LiveUpdate function will demand a system reboot and surprisingly after that, the program resumes its state from the license activation interface continuing with the one that asks if you wish to run the LiveUpdate or EasySetup wizard.
This might confuse some users even if the answer is simple: just re-enter license key/opt for the 30-day trial and at the next window uncheck LiveUpdate. You can however enable the EasySetup function that allows you to define which computer drives and documents you wish to backup, the schedule for these automatic backups and the folder you wish to store them in. After you are done with the configuration you will be given the possibility to make backups right away or stick with the schedule.
All in all, the installation and setup combined are not difficult but the two system reboots and the fact that the program reruns configuration windows which you already went through once, make it a tiresome process and could puzzle a fair share of users.
On the bright side, Norton Ghost is a utility and its system requirements totally reflect that: for Windows XP the program demands at least a 300 MHz CPU, 500 MB of RAM, a CD or DVD-ROM (for software distribution on media) and super VGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution video adapter and monitor.
For Windows Vista and 7 users it gets simpler: as long as your computer can run these operating systems it will also be perfectly capable of running Norton Ghost.
Norton Ghost’s interface presents all of its features into an uncluttered structure that makes them easy to spot. The main area displays your current backup status, a pie-chart showing used space of the hard drive partition where you chose to store your backups, a small menu with important backup and recovery tasks and the current ThreatCon level which is a rating of the global threat exposure measured by Symantec.
On top we have the basic navigation menu organized using the standard Windows Explorer style from where we can access related actions and information for File, View, Tasks, Computers and Help. Below lies the main menu divided into separate categories for Home, Status, Tasks, Tools and Advanced settings, each of them illustrated by descriptive icons.
The number of menus and tabs is a bit too high for the amount of features found within the product especially when considering that a lot of them can be accessed in multiple ways. Despite the uselessly bloated interface, it is organized in a friendly manner so even a new user won’t have a hard time to find and understand the features of Norton Ghost.
- Comprises all the tools needed to perform and automate system and file backups with a wide array of customizing options.
- The program allows you to recover backed-up system and data even when your OS fails to start.
- Support for cold imaging and Blu-ray discs.
- Clean and easy to use interface with self-explanatory terminology.
- The install and setup process is intricate and could cause confusion.
- Norton Ghost has a pricy license in comparison with most similar products.
- The duration of the backup process is longer than expected.
Norton Ghost’s presence on the market is older than 10 years but there are also newer disk-cloning programs that show great potential.
NOVA Backup Professional is an alternative to Norton Ghost that was designed with similar features and an interface equipped with a simple view and an advanced one to make it accessible for beginners and satisfying for advanced users at the same time.
Acronis True Image Home is also a popular backup application, and in spite of some limitations concerning the recovery tools it does provide a lot of flexibility for backing up data and the innovative Try & Decide feature that is what you might call a sandbox for testing potentially unsafe applications, websites and e-mail attachments.
You can’t really go wrong with Norton Ghost : it still has a few minor issues but it makes up with an excellent set of backup tools, powerful recovery capabilities and accessible interface suitable for non-techies and power users altogether.