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Making a Ghost image

Making a ghost image for backup and disaster preparedness... This is an IT Best Practice.

On a previous page I told you why making a ghost image of your hard drive is important. Here I will show you how to do the deed!

Note: From questions and comments on the old Q and A forum I will tell you that you can use this program to do your partition backup of a SSD - Solid State Drive. There are no special switches or options to set.

Before you start you will need a few things:

  1. A bootable device (such as a custom Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) for Windows 7 /8 - Check this out.) Or a multi boot system.

  2. A place to store your image, it should be 10 gig or larger

  3. The imaging software, in this example Symantec Ghost.

Preliminarily information:

Note: If you build a DOS boot device or if you use a windows boot device such as ERD or Bart's PE. You have two choices when you use Ghost (also known as a Norton Ghost). One is called a DOS command line program - Ghost.exe (is a 16 bit program) and the other is a Windows program called Ghost32.exe (is a 32 bit program). The advantage of ERD is that this is a 32 bit Preinstalled Environment bootable windows CD or DVD, you will have a Windows type interface for making a ghost image.

Be aware that neither of these programs will run if you use a Windows 7/8 64 Bit ERD, unless you can find Symantec Ghostcast, it has a 64 bit version of Ghost.

Symantec Ghost at one time was just "Ghost", then it was Norton Ghost, Microsoft bought the company an changed the name of the product.

You could use a custom Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) for making a Symantec Ghost image - Check this out.

This is where having a computer that has a Dual Boot capability comes in very handily. You could boot from the other Operating System and use a 32/64 bit imaging program to make or restore your image, this would save you some time and you would not have to worry about using an external boot device or disk to do the work. However this would not be a viable solution if you had a hard drive failure and were replacing the hard drive the boot Operating Systems were on, another option.

Note: For the command line options (switches) all you have to do is type at the command prompt the name of the program followed by a /? such as: E:\ghost.exe /? this will give you a list of options that will allow you to do other things with the program besides just create you image.

Making a ghost image:

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Once you have your tools, start the system with the bootable device. Then start the Ghost32 / 64 program, this is version 8 you may have a newer version, when it is running the interface is the same, the difference comes with the options. Ghost being a 16 bit DOS program has to conform to DOS constraints. That being the naming convention: 8.3 which means the name can only be eight characters and the extension can only be three characters. Where as Ghost32 is a 32 bit program and the naming convention is the same as any Windows name, 256 characters and any extension you want. I will stress that if you do not use .GHO for the extension the program will not restore the image when you need to use it!

My version of Symantec Ghost32 software is about six revisions old so the interface will look a little different but the functions are the same.

Making a Symantec Ghost image instructions:Making a Symantec Ghost image Splash screen

Start splash screen, this is Ghost32, behind the splash screen is the DOS command line box, If you close the DOS box it will close out the program, leave it open. Click Ok.





The opened the menu down to create an image of a partition.

The next screen is the main menu screen. I have opened the menu down to create an image of a partition.

Note: You can select "Clone Drive" but there is a problem with the option: You have to have the exact same make and model drive to restore the clone image, thus the partition image is the best choice. (If you were doing a batch of new computers clone would be the best choice because doing partition the raw drive would have to have the partition created before the image was written to the drive, with clone the partitions are part of the image.



Select the correct drive to makr the image of.


Once you select your image type the program will open up to your hard drives. Be sure to select the correct drive. If you don't know which drive or are unsure use the Storage manager to get the properties of the drive you want to image. Select your drive





Now select the partition for the image.


Now you will see all the partitions on the drive, select your partition you are making the image of, here I have selected the C: drive





Selecting your storage drive.


Select your storage drive and then name your image. If you are going to make an image of more than one partition name them by the drive letter. I try to use the date of the image, once you have more than two images it is hard to keep track of the latest one.





Select your compresion, High, Fast, No compresion.


Next you need to select how you want the image created, I use High compression because of space constraints, you may have very large storage space and want to create the image in the least amount of time, select Fast. No will not compress the img at all.

Note: If you plan on putting your image on optical media consider the size of the image files and the actual media capacity. Most images will be two or more files of 2 GB you may wind up with ten files if you use low or medium compression when you make your image.

Starting the process.


Select yes, the image process will start. The completion time will depended on a couple of things:  The size of the data on the partition, the fragmentation of the partition, and the device you are using to store the image.





Progress indicators.


Creating the image, the top bar is an estimate of completion. The menu will show you amount of data copied and the time elapsed






Progress of image so far, almost done.


Almost completed







Image completed, don't forget to check it!









Last screen to check the image select Continue.


Continue or Restart (Select Continue to do the next step.)






When you complete your image you would do well to check the image by verifying the image. To do this from the menu go to local / check / Image file. This will insure that when you go to restore the image it will restore for you.

Menu to check your image.


Select check / image,







Go to the drive the image is stored on.


Select the drive where the image is stored,






When you click on the file it will go to the next screen.


Select the image.







Confirming that you want to check the file.


Confirm you want to check the image. This is a non-destructive check of the data and file structure.






Progress indicator.


Progress while the check is under way.







Good image!


Check complete. If there was a problem with the image an error would be displayed and text file written to the A: drive (you can change the path) Read the text file it will tell you why the image is bad. Fix the problem and create a new image.





Now store the image in a safe place, I suggest you put a copy on a cd if small enough; if is to big then a DVD.

You can use a Windows 7 / 8 / 10 32 or 64 bit Emergency Repair Disk to make your ghost image, the problem is you have to have the Ghost32.exe or Ghost64.exe program stored on separate disk or media, you can not add the program to a ERD that you made with the Windows 7 / 8 / 10 Backup system.

With computers you can also use the smaller condensed "Check list" to accomplish a single repair task.Now if you need to restore the ghost image you have a backup of the drive/partition.  You could use this Making a Ghost Image tutorial until you don't need any assistance with creating your images.

Making a ghost image as a backup only when you have made major changes to your Operating System or installed new files, if you do it too much you will have a drive full of backups (I currently have over 300 GB of backups of the computers on my network...).


If you get stuck or need to make a ghost.env file to set your special parameters do so before you put the ghost program on a CD because the env file can not be changed once it is on a CD. Use the Help function for the switches (options) you want to use when you are making your images.

Now the bad news: MS has discontinue the program for normal everyday computer owners. You may find a copy on some web sites that sell computer software. However if you are in the corporate environment and can afford it the programs (Ghost 32 bit and Ghost 64 bit) comes with the program Symantec Ghostcast, be aware that this is an expensive program for making/deploying multiple images across a network to multiple computers at one time.

Or you could use another imaging program.

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