I keep each of my systems backed up using Norton Ghost. I duplicate the Norton Ghost backup images on the server, a portable hard disk, and DVD. With Norton Ghost, I can easily restore my primary Microsoft Windows partition (C: drive), in the event of any problem. I have never had to rebuild a primary partition since I began using Norton Ghost, about 12 years ago. It has saved my hide countless times!
Norton Ghost will make a digital image of every file on the partition being backed up, not just data files. The Norton Ghost backup images are sufficient to recreate the partition, even if the hard drive were replaced.
BTW, the partition being backed up does not have to be in standard Microsoft Windows XP format: NTFS. It can be formatted for DOS (FAT16 or FAT32), Linux, or Solaris.
My notebook hard disk has three partitions:
C: – an NTFS-formatted partition on which the Microsoft Windows XP operating system and all applications are stored
D: – an NTFS-formatted partition on which I store the Microsoft Windows XP swap file, a 16 GB TrueCrypt encrypted file, and a few gigabytes of other random files (such as short-term files that I have downloaded from the net)
E: – a FAT32-formatted partition on which I store the DOS version of the Norton Ghost application and the images made by Norton Ghost of the C: drive (the primary partition)
I use Norton Ghost to backup C: to E:\, here is the DOS batch file that I use to execute this command. Do not be confused by the DOS command, “c:,” because when I boot my computer using DOS, the NTFS partitions are not visible, and the FAT32 partition (E:) appears to be the only available hard drive partition, so DOS temporarily gives it the address, C:.
ghost -clone,mode=pdump,src=1:1,dst=c:\AV100000.gho -z9 -split=640 -auto -sure -pwd -rb
This command splits the backup files into 640MB portions, so I can fit 7 of them on a single DVD (640MB x 7 = 4,480 MB, just about the capacity of a 4.7 GB DVD).
When the backup is complete, Microsoft Windows XP reboots and I copy the imaged files to another computer, external hard disk, network server, and DVD. I then carry the most recent copy of the image files on my notebook’s E: drive and on DVD, in my backpack. The older DVDs are store in a secure historical file, in the office.
I follow this process for each of the computers in my office and home. Every time a new software application has been installed or the monthly Microsoft security patches are released (on the second Tuesday of each month), I backup the machines. Because my notebook is so important to my work, I back it up at least twice a week, even if I have not installed a new application.