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Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion (Read 60864 times)
Pleonasm
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Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Sep 6th, 2005 at 7:12pm
 
I am writing (at the invitation of Rad) to summarize an alternative point of view to those who claim that Ghost 9.0 contains “hidden risks” and is “less reliable” than Ghost 2003.  Below is an examination of each of a dozen points often cited in support of that argument, provided in order to assist a thoughtful reader with the task of impartially discerning the reality of the situation.

Point #1:  Installation


It has been correctly noted that unlike Ghost 2003 – which can be run directly from DOS – a user has to install Ghost 9.0 to use the program.  The requirement to install an application is common to almost all Windows applications, and is not perceived to be a disadvantage for those other applications.  Therefore, if installation is a disadvantage of Ghost 9.0, then Ghost 9.0 is certainly not alone in this regard.

Point #2:  Product Activation


It has been rightly said, “unlike Ghost 2003, Ghost 9 requires product activation.”  Activation is a trivial one-time step that occurs during the initial installation of the application, designed to protect the intellectual property rights of Symantec.  For a user who owns a legitimate product license, it is a non-issue.  For someone seeking to illegitimately use an image backup product, then certainly Ghost 2003 - a DOS-based solution that does not require activation - is preferable.  Otherwise, there is no reason to be concerned about the activation process of Ghost 9.0.

Point #3:  Hot Imaging


“Hot imaging” is a term used to describe the fact that Ghost 9.0 creates a backup image of an operating system drive/partition while the operating system is running.  A brief description of how this occurs is provided in the Symantec Knowledge Base document “How Virtual Volume Imaging (V2i) handles user changes during the backup process.”  It is more difficult to conceptualize than a DOS-based imaging process, no doubt; but it does not therefore logically follow that the process is less reliable than the DOS-based approach of Ghost 2003.

If using Ghost 9.0 were truly analogous to “taking a snapshot at a rock concert” (i.e., an ‘image’ of a ‘moving target’), then the inherent ‘lack of clarity’ (i.e., unreliability) would result in customer dissatisfaction that would in turn cause the marketplace demise of the product itself – for, obviously, corporations and individuals would not continue to purchase a product that performed even marginally less reliable than another, given the critical nature of image backup.  Clearly, the marketplace response has been quite the contrary, suggesting that the ‘photographic analogy’ used by Ghost 2003 advocates is without merit.

Point #4:  Corporate Imaging Solutions


“Symantec did not convert their Corporate version of Ghost to the Windows-based application” is an argument used by Ghost 2003 supporters to suggest that corporations prefer Ghost 2003 (and “so should you,” by inference).   The problem with the argument is that it is factually incorrect.  The corporate version of Ghost 9.0 is known as the LiveState Recovery suite of applications – used for the backup and recovery of a company's critical servers and their PCs.  LiveState Recovery is actively promoted and sold by Symantec.  Most importantly, if you go to the Symantec website, you'll see that Symantec doesn't even list the corporate version of Ghost 2003 any longer as an option within its solution set for "Backup and Disaster Recovery.”  If the choice of corporations is an indication of what a home user should employ for image backup, then the recommendation is to use Ghost 9.0.

Point #5:  Image Creation versus Restoration Environment


Ghost 9.0 has been criticized because the image creation environment (Windows XP) is different from the Recovery Environment (Windows PE) when restoring a system drive/partition (but not when restoring a non-system drive/partition).  The argument is the reliability of Ghost 9.0 is (somehow) compromised as a result.  Since Windows is being used in both cases, the validity of the argument is suspect.  Additionally, a single environment – namely, Bart's Preinstalled Environment (BartPE) - may be optionally used to both create and restore Ghost 9.0 images, if the user is concerned.

Point #6:  Updates


Ghost 9.0 has been criticized because the Norton Ghost CD/Symantec Recovery Disk CD – unlike the application itself – is not updated through the Symantec LiveUpdate facility.  There is no technical reason why Symantec could not disseminate a new version of the CD, in the event that a problem was discovered; however, to-date, this has not proven to be necessary.  In contrast, the user should understand that Symantec hasn’t updated Ghost 2003 since 2002 (when version 2003 was released) and one Ghost 2003 expert on this forum used the adjective “dead” in describing updates for Ghost 2003.  The Ghost 9.0 application, however, has been updated through LiveUpdate in 2005.
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #1 - Sep 6th, 2005 at 7:16pm
 
Very nice. Very professional. Clean. Readable. I will edit the guide to direct readers to your comments in defense of v9.

Thx for contributing. I would make you a dang moderator if you had a real user name.  Smiley
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #2 - Sep 6th, 2005 at 7:22pm
 
Point #7:  Microsoft .NET Framework


It has been noted that Ghost 9.0 "requires you to install Microsoft's .NET bloatware.”  Far from being a disadvantage, conforming to the Microsoft .NET standard positions the product well for further enhancement, interoperability, and compatibility with future advancement in PC technology.  Consider, for example, that .NET is the underlying component of the Service Oriented Architecture (known as Indigo) of Microsoft’s next generation operating system, Windows Vista.  Additionally, other than occupying a small amount of disk space, the .NET framework presents no disadvantage to the user.

Point #8:  Acronis True Image


It has been argued that since the Acronis True Image backup product is known to have serious problems, and since it uses “hot imaging” like Ghost 9.0, then Ghost 9.0 is therefore likely to also suffer from the same problems observed with True Image.  This argument is interesting, but clearly flawed.  Acronis True Image and Symantec Norton Ghost 9.0 are two distinct products, authored independently by two separate and unaffiliated companies.  Because the former has problems simply has no relevance to the reliability of the latter.  It would be like saying that since Intuit’s Quicken has ‘problem X,’ then Microsoft’s Money product will also exhibit ‘problem X’ because both are superficially similar in that they are personal financial management tools.

Point #9:  Symantec User Forums


It has been stated that “it doesn’t surprise me Symantec shut down their forums prior to releasing Ghost 9,” suggesting that this action is somehow intended to conceal problems with Ghost 9.0 from the public.  The fact is that Symantec (disappointingly) discontinued all user forums for all retail products at the same time, and therefore their decision to do so cannot be legitimately interpreted to constitute a “Ghost 9.0 cover-up.”  There are several public forums for Symantec products in existence today, and there is no Ghost 9.0 “conspiracy” underway to hide knowledge about the performance of the product.  Suggesting otherwise is foolhardy.

Point #10:  Features


Ghost 9.0 has been criticized for lacking some features present in Ghost 2003.  The counter-argument is that the later also lacks features not present in the former, most importantly the ability to conduct incremental image backup and to schedule image backup to run automatically at a user specified time.  These are extremely beneficial features for many users, to say nothing of avoiding the inconvenience of booting to DOS in order to manually run Ghost 2003.

Point #11:  Troubleshooting


“It is more difficult to troubleshoot problems with Ghost 9.0 because imaging from Windows involves so many more variables” – so say Ghost 2003 advocates.  No doubt, Windows is more complex than DOS.  But correspondingly, it can be said, “It is more difficult to troubleshoot problems with Ghost 2003 because Ghost 2003 involves so many more variables.”  How many more?  Consider that there are 135 individual command-line switches for Ghost 2003.  The reader may also be interested in knowing that the Symantec Knowledge Base contains 413 support articles for Ghost 2003 – but only 90 for Ghost 9.0 – suggesting that Ghost 2003 is 460% more problematical to troubleshoot than Ghost 9.0.

Additionally, here is a fun experiment to try.  Go to Google and search within “Groups” for (A) “Ghost 9.0” and (B) “Ghost 2003.”  This inquiry searches a broad range of user forums and communities representing, by and large, user initiated questions & answers.  Want to guess how many ‘questions’ you’ll uncover for Ghost 9.0?  The answer is 2,830.  Now, how about Ghost 2003?  Would you believe that the answer is 18,500 – a 654% increase?  Can one honestly argue that Ghost 2003 is easier to troubleshoot?

Point #12:  Voice of the Experts


The RADIFIED Guide to Norton Ghost quotes three experts offering their opinion that Ghost 2003 is a more reliable product than Ghost 9.0.  Those users of Ghost 2003 have indeed experienced reliability with the product – but they appear not to have even tested Ghost 9.0, and so their comparative comments are suspect.  More importantly, from their experience with Ghost 2003, it does not logically follow that their success would have been any less outstanding if Ghost 9.0 had been used instead.

The most significant point is that their voice is clearly in the minority.  Simply stated, IT professionals prefer Ghost 9.0.  The evidence is a January, 2005 poll published in Redmond Magazine that voted Ghost 9.0 “the Best of the Best” - "a landslide victory," according to the magazine editors - and "the largest percentage of votes of any product in any category.”  Additionally, PC Magazine has selected Ghost 9.0 as it’s “Editor’s Choice” for image backup (August, 2005).

* * * * * * * * * *


In summary, it is worthwhile to note that not all image backup products – whether Ghost 2003 or Ghost 9.0 – work in all PC configurations.  Therefore, the user has a responsibility to assess and to ensure a proper ‘fit’ between the application and the system environment in which it is being used.  Ghost 2003 is reliable.  Ghost 9.0 is no less reliable.

I look forward to reading the commentary that will follow by other members of this forum.  As you post your own observations and perspectives, please:
  • Explicitly refer to one of the above points by number, so that the dialog can be easily tracked by all readers.

  • If your point is not included within the preceding list, then please create and label a new point and assign it the next sequential integer designation so that others can refer to with equal ease.

In conclusion, Ghost 2003 is a tool with a long and a proud history that has served many faithfully over the years.  It is, however, well on its way toward fading into the shadows.  Ghost 2003 is not the “ghost of Christmas present” or the “ghost of Christmas future”, to borrow the imagery of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; but is the “ghost of Christmas past.”

Peace to all who post,
Pleonasm
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #3 - Sep 6th, 2005 at 9:12pm
 
Pleonasm, very eloquent. As expected.

Re Point # 12, Redmond magazine:

I found this http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/pr/2005/pr02-01.html

It claims: Readers of Redmond magazine named Acronis True Image preferred product for "Drive Imaging", according to results published in the January 2005 "Best of the Best" issue.

Hang on, isn't that what you said about Ghost 9. So I looked further and found
http://download.101com.com/redmond/pdf/0501red_best.pdf

On page 3 Acronis TI gets 6.9% of the vote, so in Acronis' eyes that makes it "preferred product". Not THE "preferred product" however. The latter title would go to Symantec Ghost with 59.4% of the vote. I looked hard but couldn't find the numeral 9. As much as we both would have liked.

I've written to the Acronis group about 6.9% of the vote meaning "preferred product".
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #4 - Sep 7th, 2005 at 1:16am
 
Pleonasm

Well said.... !

Minor clarification:  
Point #6:  Updates


Quote:
the user should understand that Symantec hasn’t updated Ghost 2003 since 2002 (when version 2003 was released)


My final Live Update for Ghost 2003 has the following  version information:

Norton Ghost 2003 (build=793, cdrlib=3.1.25)


The file date is 12/24/2003, and the *readme.txt* associated with that final Live Update has a date of 01/07/2004, which says it's *Update 3*--so the *2002* date is the *release* date of the initial Ghost 2003, but not when it was last updated!

General comment:

Ghost 9.x vs Ghost 2003--apples and oranges--each has its pluses and minuses--each has its special features or lack thereof.  You can do certain things with one, and definitely not with the other.

*Hot-imaging* has a bad reputation for many going back to Win 3.1!  I've been burned several times along the way!!  Certainly, Ghost 9.x appears to have resolved most (if not all?) of the reliability issues.

I suspect most Ghost 9.x problems stem from flaky, unstable Windows systems--if Windows is unreliable, then one can only expect Ghost 9.x to be equally affected.

Ghost 2003 does not solve that problem either!  You may be able to successfully use DOS to create an image of that flaky, unstable Windows system--but, what do you gain by restoring that flaky, unstable image of Windows?!
 

No question is stupid...but, possibly the answers are Wink !&&
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #5 - Sep 7th, 2005 at 5:17am
 
I will follow this topic with great interest! I have come across a webpage which have a lot of opinions on Ghost 9 from different users. I haven't read it all but I will. Have a look at What other people say about Norton Ghost 9.0 - Disk Imaging Solution

Christer
 

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If I hear - I forget, If I see - I remember, If I do - I understand
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #6 - Sep 7th, 2005 at 7:41am
 
From point #11:  Troubleshooting

Quote:
The reader may also be interested in knowing that the Symantec Knowledge Base contains 413 support articles for Ghost 2003 – but only 90 for Ghost 9.0 – suggesting that Ghost 2003 is 460% more problematical to troubleshoot than Ghost 9.0.

Want to guess how many ‘questions’ you’ll uncover for Ghost 9.0?  The answer is 2,830.  Now, how about Ghost 2003?  Would you believe that the answer is 18,500 – a 654% increase?

Can one honestly argue that Ghost 2003 is easier to troubleshoot?

Ghost 9 was released in September 2004, a life span of one year. Ghost 2003 was released in August 2002 a life span of three years. I don't know when the first consumer version of Ghost "classic" was released but never mind, one can not take those figures and claim that they represent a "trouble shooting rating". The time factor, the number of actual/potential users and a miscellany of other factors have to be considered.

Over at the Windows BBS, someone actually claimed that Windows ME was less troublesome than Windows 98, based on the fact that the number of topics on the respective operating system were approximately 1:5 ...... Wink ...... and we all know that's far from the truth.

There are three kinds of lies: a white lie, a normal lie and statistics!

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If I hear - I forget, If I see - I remember, If I do - I understand
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #7 - Sep 7th, 2005 at 5:04pm
 
A key benefit of this forum is the ability to gather and share the perspectives of many, and already this thread has made a good start.

To summarize the feedback provided to-date:

Point #6:  Updates

The most recent update for Ghost 2003 was issued in January, 2004 - not 2002 as originally stated.  (Kudos to NightOwl!)

Point #11:  Troubleshooting

The results quoted for the Google search of “Ghost 2003” versus “Ghost 9.0” should be time-adjusted for the duration that each application (3 years versus 1) has been in existence, to be fair.  (Ideally, one would adjust by the number of users, but that quantity is unknown.)  Thus, the 654% statistic should more appropriately read 218%.  (Kudos to Christer!)

Point #12:  Voice of the Experts

The reference to the Redmond Magazine article needs to be deleted, since the quoted survey fails to distinguish between Ghost 2003 and Ghost 9.0, and therefore the observed findings are ambiguous.  (Kudos to Brian!)
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #8 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 5:21pm
 
I apologize for the delay. Today I included a link to this thread near the bottom of the page where I discuss my views on Ghost 9:

http://ghost.radified.com/norton_ghost_90.htm

I also updated the PDFs.

It might take a while, but it seems like the threads I mention in the guide receive lots of page-views.

So, I want to thank Mr. Pleo for his input. He makes valid points. It's always good to hear both side sides of an argument. That will help users make better-informed decisions.

Again, I think it doesn't matter so much *which* imaging prgm people use, but rather they use *some* imaging prgm.

Check my wording and see if there's anything I should modify. I want to be fair to those who use & recommend Ghost 9, especially since I've never used it myself.

Rad
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #9 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 11:46pm
 
While I can't necessarily comment on the pure technicality of reliability, I can comment on one perception of reliablility, and that is the area of getting help.   When I decided to buy Ghost 2003 it in part was based on the fact I found this forum, and knew I could get help.  My prior experiences with Symantec told me I'd get no help there.  So if I was asked which version someone should rely on I'd say 2003 as there is a large pool of experts here.   Eventually 9.0 will have that same advantage, hopefully.  I would tell someone that they can't rely on Symantec, at least based on my experience.
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #10 - Sep 10th, 2005 at 4:41pm
 
The subject of this topic is "reliability" but this is more "functionality". Anyway, a quote from another topic:

Quote:
Brian,
I have just completed "maintenance" on the computer in our flying club. I brought it to my home to change the harddisk. It runs 24/7 and the harddisk powers down after 3 hours inactivity. Occasionally, it has not responded to activity (mouse, keyboard), neither has it booted after resetting the computer. When this has happened, it has always booted from the Ghost Boot Disks. A few hours of "cooling down" has brought the harddisk back to life. My conclusion was "harddisk going sout" and I did a Disk to Disk, transferring the system to another "second hand" harddisk.

The "old" HDD is 20 GB - 3 partitions - approximately 10 GB used. The "new" HDD is 40 GB - partitions proportionally resized by Ghost.

The operation took ~30 minutes, timed from fetching screwdriver to putting same back in the drawer with the computer up and running on the "new" harddisk.

Anyone who has done a comparable deed with Ghost 9.0? How long did it take?

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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #11 - Sep 10th, 2005 at 6:04pm
 
Christer, you are faster. I had to replace both HD's earlier this year due to SMART alerts but the HD's were still operational. I timed the first HD changeover at 45 minutes. Apart from the screwdriver tasks I used PM to created 4 partitions, booted to the Ghost 9 RE and restored 3 images from the second HD. The final partition was restored later from Windows.

Restoring images with Ghost 9 (total time) is probably a little longer than Ghost 2003 due to the few minutes it takes to boot into the Ghost 9 RE.

My flying club days are over I'm afraid. After 20 years, the love affair with flying has ended. I only bother to look at military jets flying over my house now. Strange how our interests change.
 
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #12 - Sep 10th, 2005 at 6:56pm
 
In my case, the target HDD is a disused IBM 60GXP which had been cleansed using delpart. I only plugged it in (no partitions, only unallocated space) as secondary master and let Ghost loose. I almost anticipate having to do it again soon, after the final demise of the "deathstar". This is a trial to find out if it really is the HDD that is the cause of the problem. If it is, I will buy a new HDD ...... Shocked ...... when it becomes necessary. I will keep the old Quantum Fireball in a drawer, enabling me to repeat the task.

Christer
 

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If I hear - I forget, If I see - I remember, If I do - I understand
 
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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #13 - Sep 10th, 2005 at 7:06pm
 
Oh, I forgot ...... Roll Eyes ...... military jets are overpriced fuel-to-noise converters. Soaring in gliders is recreation, competition with either the nature or co-competitors and a neccessity of life ...... Lips Sealed ...... well, for me at least.

I've "always" wanted to go to Australia in the winter (summer down under) and experience the best soaring conditions on this globe. I wonder if I ever will ...... Cry ...... ?

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Re: Ghost 9.0 Reliability:  A Discussion
Reply #14 - Sep 10th, 2005 at 11:40pm
 
Waikerie is waiting for you Christer. Or soaring the Morning Glory in the Gulf of Carpentaria. You will have a great time. Do it.
 
 
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