Norton Ghost was a highly popular disk imaging and cloning software. I used it to recover my system back to a clean state after messing it up by installing unknown and presumably malicious software and freeware. It is fun to play around with these things when you know that you can restore your system back within minutes. Now that the Ghost has been discontinued, it's time to move on to other good paid or free data migration software. Here are some of the worthy system disaster recovery software alternatives to Norton Ghost.
The meaning of Ghost in Norton GhostIt is an acronym for general hardware-oriented system transfer (GHOST).
Clonezilla is one of the most popular free open-source alternatives to Norton Ghost. Unlike many disk imaging/cloning software which run only on Microsoft Windows, it also runs on Linux and Mac. Its beginners mode is very easy to use, but the advanced mode is somewhat complicated. So, if you don't know what you are doing, then stick to the beginners mode only. It comes in 2 versions―Clonezilla Live and Clonezilla SE(Server Edition). The Live version is good for home users backing only a single computer, but the SE is made for network administrators. The Multicast functionality in SE can be used to clone 40 network computers at one go. It can also be run from a Live CD and supports unattended mode too. The main advantage of using Clonezilla is its support for a wide variety of file formats such as ext3, ext4, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, VMFS5, etc.
2. Acronis True Image
True Image is a paid disk backup and cloning software supporting Windows OS and Mac. It supports all the features that you may desire in a disk/partition backup software. Its main USP is its support for cloud backup and advanced backup modes. Users get free 5 GB of cloud storage for a year. Additional storage can be bought and added to this account later on. The paid versions support features like smart and incremental cloning, backup revisions, mirror drive, RAID to RAID, hard to RAID, and vice-versa, etc.
This software comes in 3 versions―DriveClone Free/Workstation/Server. The free version, naturally, has the least number of features. It supports partition and hard drive (4 TB+) cloning as well as automatic partition resizing.
4. Macrium Reflect
It is a paid Microsoft Windows (32 and 64 bit) only alternative to Norton Ghost. It uses Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) of the Windows OS to create file and disk backups. Since it uses VSS, backups can be created even while using Windows. It supports Windows PreInstallation Environment and Linux recovery options. The user can also schedule automatic backups and can move them to the network, DVD, USB, etc. It also supports backup compression, and hence, it can reduce storage requirements by up to 40%. The backups can be password protected and verified to check if they have been tampered with. It also allows the user to include/exclude a specific file or folder in the backup image. These backup images can further be mounted in Windows, just like PowerISO.
If you own a Seagate or Western Digital (WD) drive, which you most probably do, then you don't have to buy these data migration and disaster migration software. Both these manufacturers offer their own version of disk recovery to the owners of their drives for free.
Seagate offers DiscWizard to let users manage, restore and backup their Seagate and Maxtor branded drives. You can also create and format partitions on your drive using this software.
6. Acronis True Image WD Edition
WD offers Acronis True Image WD Edition to let their users backup and clone their drives to a new WD drive. Both these software are based on Acronis True Image and offer similar features like drive management (cloning, backup, migration, etc.), bootable standalone recovery manager, etc.
We recommend taking regular backups of the primary storage drive using the above alternatives to Norton Ghost. These backups will prove to be very helpful should you corrupt your OS or the hard drive, or just want to move your data to a new disk drive.
So, which is your favorite disk and partition backup software?