Norton Ghost Disappoints – Dantz Retrospect takes the lead

I’ve posted earlier of how using a tool like Norton Ghost 2003 and a Maxtor external hard drive creates a great backup solution for a drive-image style backup that retains all your settings.

Well, Norton Ghost 2003 used to work well. I got it as part of a bundle in Norton SystemWorks 2004 Professional. I also use Norton Internet Security 2004. Norton has a Live Update facility that is always patching your software. It sounds great in theory. Many tools in their offerings share common facilities / code components. They don’t seem to do this well however.

Recently, my Norton Ghost 2003 gleefully made system image backups that when I later went to check on, could not be opened (even though it did an “integrity” check on the original backup). Symantec support on this problem has been very slow and not very helpful. They recommended obvious things like “run live update until there are no more updates” which I had already done and stated to them in my original tech support request.

Ultimately, Symantec told me that if my hard drive was too fragmented, that this could be the cause. So I went out and purchased the best hard drive defragmenter (Diskeeper 9.0) and completely defragmented my hard drive, only to have the same problem.

What to do?

I had used a free version of Dantz Retrospect (Retrospect Express) that came bundled with my Maxtor hard drive and was impressed with it. So I downloaded their professional version (trial) which included a facility to do drive image backups like Ghost did. The backup part went really smooth and their process is far superior (uses incremental backups, you don’t have to leave Windows, etc.). I will test out the ability for it to read the backup data reliably and update this blog.

So far, my problems with Norton Ghost suggest that the winning horse is Dantz Retrospect Professional.

Backup Solutions – Maxtor One Touch and Norton Ghost 2003

I really like my Maxtor “One Touch” backup drive. I got the 300 MB version (has both Firewire and USB 1.1/2.0 interfaces). I use the Firewire interface and connect it to my server. It was about $330 at CompUSA.

Note that the “one touch” button just launches any program you’d like, including backup software. Since I schedule a nightly incremental backup of data, it really isn’t necessary for me. If you had one of these one-touch drives attached to each of your computers, then I can see value in configuring it to do an incremental capture of the local system and data on demand.

There’s a flash demo available as well.

I use this for data file backups from shared (and secure) data folders across the home network. The Dantz Retrospect Express Software is very good. It takes a little getting used to, but then it works reliably.

For image backups, I recommend a copy of Norton Ghost 2003 for each machine to be backed up. Configure it so the image gets dropped to a file share on your server (the Maxtor drive, in fact), and everything is centralized for backups.