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Ghosters: a new way of disk imaging

News Reimaging windows Recommended Links Windows Filesystems Recovery Filesystems Internals Disk Backup Disk Partitioning
Windows 7 System Image Acronis True Image Restricted free versions of Acronis True Image Macrium Reflect FREE Edition R-Drive Image Active Boot Disk DriveImage XML
Norton Ghost - an Underappreciated Backup and Spyware Protection Tool Minimalistic and Rescue Linux Distributions          
Kleo Bare Metal Backup for Servers Partimage Windows bulk file copy tools Unix dd Norton Ghost History Humor Etc

Ghost disk cloning/disk imaging program created the whole class of new disk imaging programs able to resize partitions of the fly and provide some additional services in cloning Windows System partition which we will call "ghosters". Ghost was written by Murray Haszard in 1995. The name Ghost originated as an acronym for "General Hardware-Oriented System Transfer". Initially there is not that much competition to Ghost but as times went Symantec in its traditional fashion first weakened program with excessive bell and whistles and then destroyed the program by refusing to upgrade from DOS based restoration. Also some worthwhile competitors emerged.

General rules for creation of system image backups

Rule 1: NTFS system needs to be thoroughly cleaned from junk and defragmented before running backup. This is especially important if you are using Linux Partimage.

Rule 2: If your disk C have more then 60G of information on your C drive you are doing something wrong. It's a good practice to keep default user folder on a different drive (in XP the default is Documents and Settings folder). You can shrink the partitions (in Windows 7 this OS supported operation, in Windows XP you can use EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition) It's location can (and should) be changed in the user profile to the the second partition of primary drive (drive D:) or other additional partition/drive.

Windows 7 System Image

If you have Windows 7 Professional or higher, it has image-based restore and backup software included and has similar capability of creating images like Ghost but without ability to access individual files (I wonder if you can mount this image?) See Windows 7 System Image

This backup solution has reasonably high reliability as it comes from Microsoft and is based on Microsoft virtual machine disk format. It is capable of restoring unbootable computers (by booting to a special recovery disk) by booting from Microsoft installation CD/DVD.

Vendor-restricted free versions of Acronis True Image

Acronis True Image is backup solution of respectable level of reliability. It is capable of restoring unbootable computers (by booting to a special recovery disk). The drawback is that has zero tolerance to errors in system image itself.  Also logging of errors and problem is almost not existent. Sometimes the size of restored files on the disk is less then original by significant margin, despite the fact that restore was reported as success.

In one case I backed up approximately 250GB information from the drive, image was approximately 200GB in size and the resulting restored files on the partition were around 150GB or so. As it turned out Acronis did not restore some ISO images producing the following error during backup:

Information 7/20/2012 12:27:16 PM Failed to recover file or folder 
'openSUSE-12.1-DVD-x86_64.iso'. Error occurred while reading the file

Despite of this restore was marked successful. If this is success I do not know what is failure. I do not know whether those ISO's that were skipped were damaged or not (the drive was almost dead and I was extremely happy that I was able to make this image in any case), but this is not the level of diagnostic you can expect from a commercial program.

GUI interface is clumsy and misleading but program itself is pretty capable. If you use it regularly you get used to it and know how to achieve certain results so clumsy GUI does not bother you as much as novices. Like in Ghost you can view and restore selected files.

Another problem with Acronis is that it is very bad in calculating backup times and simply horrible in calculating restore time. In case of restoration mentioned above it estimated 1 day 2 hours which is way too much.  For smaller restores sometimes you see 2 minutes left, go for coffee, return and see Remaining: 2 minutes" message. That does not inspire much confidence in developers, does it ?

There are several vendor-restricted free versions of Acronis True Image that is free for those who have bought hard drives from Seagate ( or Western Digital). Like Ghost it images your existing drive or partition onto your new hard drive or file. The cloning facility supports both FAT32 and NTFS partitions.

NTFS partitions need to be thoroughly cleaned from junk and defragmented before creating an image

The names for those free version are:



Macrium Reflect

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - for personal use only -- supports XP, Vista and Windows 7. It is Ghost derivative with BartPE and Linux based recovery options. Latest version as of April 2011 is version 4.7 build 4725.


EASEUS Disk Copy is a great alternative if you don't want to go for a 'hot' backup that runs from within Windows. Never tried it myself but it had a good review at lifehacker . They quite clearly state that it is ideal for moving from one disk to a larger one. Like other suggestions, this requires that you create a boot CD.

EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware providing sector-by-sector disk/partition clone regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme by creating a bootable CD. The sector-by-sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to the original. Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. Simply speaking, it can copy anything from the old hard drive including the deleted, lost files and inaccessible data. So, the freeware is a perfect tool for Data Recovery Wizard to recover files from a backup disk.

R-Drive Image

R-Drive Image trial version is 15 days fully functional copy. It uses its own closed/undocumented file format, with the .arc extension (unrelated to the data compression format also with the .arc extension).

Image can be created with various compression levels on the fly without stopping the Windows operating system and therefore without interrupting the users business. R-Drive Image restores the images on the original disks, on any other partitions or even on a hard drive's free space on the fly. To restore system you need to usebootable version created by the utility that is launched from CD.

Kleo Bare Metal Backup for Servers

Kleo Bare Metal Backup for Servers comes with the Carroll-Net Server Recovery Kit. It includes hundreds of specialized server recovery tools. With it you can rescue failed servers, recover lost passwords and troubleshoot boot up problems.

DriveImage XML

DriveImage XMLDriveImage XML is a ghoster that allows you to backup a PC's hard drive or partition from within Windows XP (XP Home and/or XP Professional only). It can image a partition that is currently in use (such as the system drive), compress the image while backing up, restore an image to another partition/drive and clone a drive. Note that although it is able to image the system drive while you're working in it, it cannot restore the image to the system drive if it is currently in use (obviously). The solution is to use their BartPE plugin (what they call the "WinPE boot CD-ROM") to create a BartPE CDROM. You can then restore your system partition after booting from the CDROM. See tutorial on How to Create a Bootable "Live" Windows Rescue CD for more information on how to create such a CD.

DriveImage XML internally uses the same backup / restore Windows uses, and inherits its quirks, but is way easier to use.Cons to consider:

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Old News ;-)

[Jul 07, 2013] EZ Gig IV Cloning Software with Data Select for Windows

Please note that the ISO file is not needed to create bootable media for this version of EZ Gig. Customers needing bootable media can easily create the bootable media by downloading EZ Gig IV Windows Version, and then running the application within Windows. Select the 'Create Bootable Media' from the first screen in the application and follow the on screen instructions.

To burn an ISO from the EZ Gig IV ISO file, you will need software that is capable of burning the image back into a CD. Windows 7 has a built-in ISO burner, but older operating systems will require 3rd party software to accomplish the task. Burn programs (such as Nero or Roxio) have built in ISO burners but not all burning programs will have this feature. Below is a link that will help explain how to burn ISO files with several different pieces of software. There are also links for good freeware ISO burning programs if you do not already have one.

How to write ISO files

[Nov 28, 2012] Tech Guy's review of True Image 2013 Plus

September 21, 2012 |
Tech Guy

Backup-Restore software needs to be reliable. Period. Acronis 2013 is just as buggy as 2012. I had no problem making backup images of my drive and verifying them. I even went to the trouble when I first purchased 2012 to test the restoration software. So when a drive failed last month, I was astounded to discover that the 2012 and 2013 software couldn't successfully restore the image, despite that all of my latest images verified ok. Acronis restoration routines are extremely touchy about what it will and won't restore. And THAT makes this software useless.

Yes, I tried another hard disk and other images, but with no success. That's when I tried to work with Acronis's pathetic excuse of a customer support department via email. They instructed me to try Acronis 2013, but that led to the same bad result. Each email communication with the customer support department took about 24 hours to turn around, which is UNACCEPTABLE when you've got a computer down. I sent them the error logs and system reports, but the support tech seemed incapable of interpreting them. His suggestion basically boiled down to "try it again". After 8 attempts with various images, I realized I was just wasting huge amounts of time. I reinstalled Windows from scratch, then copied my data from Dropbox. After that, I installed Norton Ghost 15 (which doesn't have nearly as many features as Acronis). But guess what? I found that Norton Ghost works quite reliably.

I confirmed the "touchy restoration problem" of Acronis True Image by trying to restore images I'd been making of a second computer. I discovered the same problem on that laptop too. Most of my images were unrecoverable (the restoration step fails), despite that the images were verified as "ok."

Anyone who buys this software and expects to rely upon it in an emergency crash of their system needs to have their head examined. You'll probably go through the same nightmarish surprises Acronis put me thru.

So here's a message for Acronis's CEO:


Backup-Restoration software must be RELIABLE. We don't want a bunch of buggy new features, when last year's features still don't work right. FIRST, we want the product's primary objective--backup and restore--to work with 100% reliability. Unreliable restoration software is totally useless as True Image 2013 (and 2012, 2011, 2010) proves. Please stop adding new features and changing user interfaces so your marketing department can put "NEW" all over your advertising propaganda. Instead, put some resources into making the product work.

You've lost me as a customer forever. Norton Ghost doesn't have all the "NEW" features, but guess what--the features that it does have ACTUALLY WORK. If you made a product that worked reliably, think of all the customer service resources you could save. Think of the reputation you'd build.

But instead, Acronis appears to be a marketing driven company that doesn't care a whit about bugs and reliability. For years, computer forums have been full of complaints about the bugginess of True Image. 2013 is just as bad. Get a clue and make the software work.

N Bezroukov:

There is one warning point about the review of Techguy: he posted the review about Acronis 2012 not Acronis 2013 and just added the words "2013 is just as bad." For such a complex and capable program as Acronis True Image this approach flash red lights as for objectivity of the reviewer.

Techguy's assessment contains a very valid point about the dismal ability of cope with errors in Acronis images. But I respectfully disagree with your assessment that Acronis is generally unreliable and unacceptable program for home users and small businesses. The key point is that you need to check integrity of your images after backup. Moreover Acronis stepped in when Symantec destroyed its Ghost franchise and actually it was Acronis who saved this type of backup programs in the market and they should be commented for this.

I can attest that in my extensive usage of Acronis, Acronis 2010 (with testing of integrity of images after backup) proved to be very reliable. I restored many PCs in many different circumstances (mostly after virus infections) and only once have the problem with unability of Acronis to restore image (the source was a Seagate USB drive with factory formatting which might be a problem in this case). This was the case were I realized that without checking of integrity of Acronis backup program is really dangerous and this step is obligatory.

But otherwise this is an amazingly capable program for the price. The fact that you can open any image and browse it (and copy arbitrary folder) with just a click on it in Window's File Explorer make it the best for home user backup. Actually file restore capability in Acronis is completely redundant due to this amazing feature and actually implemented badly in comparison even with Windows File Explorer (you can't open the image in other, better, file managers such as FAR or Total Commander.)

Where I completely agree with you is the point that the program should pay more attention to recovery of bad images. Current situation is really pathetic. A single error makes the whole (yes, whole as data are compressed with unknown algorithm) image unusable. That's completely unacceptable. In my single case of failed image restore the image contained valuable data that were lost for the user.

And as in your case Acronis support was worse then pathetic: just a bunch of clueless entry level people. But here situation is hopeless: please understand this is a tiny company and providing high quality support for users who paid around $50 for the program is impossible. One hour of qualified tech on the phone is approximately $100.

[Jun 15, 2012] Customer Reviews Samsung MZ-5PA256 256 GB Solid State Drive

M. Wang

Samsung is considered by many online technology review sites as the manufacturer of one of the most reliable solid state drives. The main drawbacks of its products have been the high prices and the relatively slow speed. Even this latest model only supports SATA II and 250MB/s read speed. But I have been looking for a new boot drive for my main desktop, which is 3 years old and only has SATA II anyway, so when the price comes down recently, making this SSD by far the cheapest among the three reliable brands (the others are Crucial and Intel), I jump at the opportunity.

The specific model on sale last week was the MZ-5PA256B instead of the MZ-5PA256C (this one on this page at Amazon, MZ-5PA256, is last quarter's model, with no frills, period), so although I receive Norton Ghost in the package, a 3.5" desktop adapter is not included. This poses no problem as I have one sitting around from an OCZ SSD. Norton Ghost is pretty good, far better than Acronis, but I already have EaseUs To Do Free (which is free indeed), so I don't have to bother with the included software at all. All I have to do is to clean up the old 1TB boot drive to the point of containing only 210GB of bloated software (mostly by moving My Documents, My Music, My Picture and My Video to a separate data drive), use EaseUs to copy the partition over, reboot, reset the BIOS to boot from the SSD, and voila! Boot time is cut in half.

I have also changed the boot drive in a new Dell notebook with very similar specifications to a Crucial SATA II SSD. The boot time there is even shorter. I don't think the difference really implies any inferiority of the Samsung drive. Instead, the fact that I reinstalled Windows 7 fresh onto the Dell probably gives it the additional speed boost. But this old desktop has several years' worth of software clutters. Reinstalling is simply not a practical option.

Overall, I am happy with the purchase, but people with the latest generation of desktops may not like this Samsung as much. After all, the specs are so 2010. The price isn't exactly a bargain. And the missing adapter can be a hassle. Why any manufacturer would want to save 5 cents by withholding that very useful piece of metal is just beyond me.

[Jan 08, 2012] How do I easily copy or clone a Windows boot partition onto a new hard drive - Super User


I tried out DriveImage XML running on XP Professional x64 installed on 1TB Drive. I had two other drives (250GB & 500GB) and I needed my 500GB drive to add to an array that I was adding to my new computer. This 500GB had a 95GB partition that I wanted to stick on the 250GB drive. I really couldn't get the software to run perfect on x64, but it did go through the process. Well it ended up sticking the 95GB partition on the 250GB drive with no extra space and I couldn't resize the partition. I needed to use recovery console to get the crap to boot, and even then the drive letter was set to D and so nothing was working. I did some google and tried some stuff, but I couldn't get regedit to run and so I punted and re-installed Vista from scratch on the 250 GB.

Just always make sure you back up your stuff.


DriveImage XML DriveImage XML will do the job. It runs from within Windows and it can copy directly from drive to drive. A lot of people rave about it after good experiences with the software.

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.

Image creation uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe "hot images" even from drives currently in use. Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! Restore images to drives without having to reboot. DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels.


EASEUS Disk Copy EASEUS Disk Copy is a great alternative if you don't want to go for a 'hot' backup that runs from within Windows. Good review at lifehacker and on a par with DriveImage XML. They quite clearly state that it is ideal for moving from one disk to a larger one. Like other suggestions, this requires that you create a boot CD.

EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware providing sector-by-sector disk/partition clone regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme by creating a bootable CD. The sector-by-sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to the original. Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. Simply speaking, it can copy anything from the old hard drive including the deleted, lost files and inaccessible data. So, the freeware is a perfect tool for Data Recovery Wizard to recover files from a backup disk. link|improve this answer edited Sep 16 '11 at 6:32

Have you personally used it more than once with great success? As in there are no gotchas? – Breadtruck Aug 29 '09 at 22:12 1 Create an empty partition on your new disk first, ready to copy the image into. No need to format it. Once copied, set the drive to 'active' in Disk Management (Start | Run | diskmgmt.msc) and either change the boot disk in the BIOS or shutdown and physically swap the disks over. All in the FAQ on the website. We used this method to move XP onto a bigger disk, worked a treat. – kez Aug 29 '09 at 22:35 I've personally used it more than once and it's absolutely fantastic. – Andrew Moore Sep 4 '09 at 19:22 2

+1 for DriveImage XML. I took a system with 2 x 20GB physical drives and cloned them onto one partitioned 80GB drive, and three years later, the customer is still up and running without a format. – Randolph West

Sep 10 '09 at 7:27 1 DriveImage XML internally uses the same backup / restore Windows uses, and inherits its quirks, but is way easier to use. The Pros have been mentioned, two

Cons to consider:

(1) DriveImage is relatively slow (2 hrs for one disk, 0.5 hours same disk with, for instance, Macrium Reflect).

(2) DriveImage cannot restore to a Disk smaller than the original disk. Mind you: this is not about partition sizes, but about disk sizes (try to restore a backup of a 1TB partition of a 6TB disk to a 1TB partition of a 2TB disk, won't work). – Abel Jan 20 '11 at 9:08 show 6 more comments Was this post useful to you?

up vote 14

down vote GParted GParted on the Ubuntu (and I'm sure other Linux distros) Live CD will do exactly this. I've used it to successfully migrate entire operating systems from one dying drive to another new drive.

GParted is a free partition editor for graphically managing your disk partitions.

GParted is useful for tasks such as: creating space for new operating systems, restructuring disk space to separate user and operating system data, and copying partitions to enable upgrading to a larger hard disk drive. link|improve this answer edited Aug 21 '11 at 11:52

community wiki



up vote 12

down vote Clonezilla You could try out Clonezilla Live.

Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partclone and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore.

It doesn't perfectly meet your requirements, but the disk to disk clone instructions are here.

[Mar 6, 2010]Drive Image and Hard Disk Backup Software

R-Drive Image 4.6 is a potent utility providing disk image files creation for backup or duplication purposes. A disk image file contains the exact, byte-by-byte copy of a hard drive, partition or logical disk and can be created with various compression levels on the fly without stopping Windows OS and therefore without interrupting your business. These drive image files can then be stored in a variety of places, including various removable media such as CD-R(W)/DVD, Iomega Zip or Jazz disks, etc.

R-Drive Image restores the images on the original disks, on any other partitions or even on a hard drive's free space on the fly. To restore system and other locked partitions R-Drive Image is switched to the pseudo-graphic mode directly from Windows or bootable version created by the utility is launched from CD disc or diskettes.

Using R-Drive Image, you can completely and rapidly restore your system after heavy data loss caused by an operating system crash, virus attack or hardware failure. You can also use R-Drive Image for mass system deployment when you need to setup many identical computers. In other words, you can manually setup one system only, create an image of the system, and then deploy it on all other computers, saving your time and costs. If you need to restore only certain files from a disk image, you can connect that image as a virtual disk and copy those files directly from the disk image using Windows Explorer or any other file utility.

R-Drive Image is one of the best backup and disaster recovery solutions to prevent losing your data after a fatal system failure.

A free fully functional 15-day trial version is available for evaluation purpose.

[Dec 26, 2009] Acronis True Image Home 2010

Try several backup programs before you commit to one., October 23, 2009 KD "KD"
After purchasing a 1TB external USB drive so that I can make backups of my (64bit) laptop's 500GB HDD, I've been trying out many different backup programs.

In the past, I had been using Ghost 2003 (DOS boot floppy) -- which I considered one of the best pieces of software ever created. I never bothered with the actual Window's Ghost 2003 install, other than simply just to create a boot floppy. Once I had a working boot floppy, I uninstalled the Window's Ghost 2003. My preferred method of doing backups is very simply. I simply want to boot into the backup program externally from any installed OS and manually perform backup/restores with an external USB HDD. I have no desire for automated backups. In the past, Ghost 2003 (DOS boot floppy) worked faithfully for me over many years covering (32bit) Win98, Win2000, WinXP, Linux, FreeBSD, and even Vista. While in recent years, I would have to manually repair the MBR and bootloaders after restores with Ghost 2003, it still remained an excellent program. Unfortunately, with the arrival of mainstream 64bit hardware, Ghost 2003 is now obsolete. Even more unfortunate is that Symantec, after borging PowerQuest, completely changed Ghost after 2003. Usually Symantec destroys any product that they acquire, but in this case they destroyed their own product (Ghost) after acquiring PowerQuest DriveImage -- which, just like PowerQuest PartitionMagic, was also an excellent product in it's own right before being borged by Symantec.

After quite a bit of work, I was actually able to get Ghost 2003 to recognize an internal SATA drive, boot from a USB pen drive, and "work" with 64bit hardware, but there were still a few things going "weird". Read the wikipedia Ghost article on how to get all that going if you want to give it a try.

What I am after is likely very common for what many others are after. I simply want to boot up into a backup program from an external source (CD/DVD, USB drive) and be able to do both backup and restores between an internal HDD and an external USB HDD. I don't even want a "main" backup program to have to be installed on an OS. I don't need nor even want automated backups. I certainly don't want the backup program creating any special "recovery partition" on the internal HDD. I just want a simple, and more importantly: reliable, completely external backup/restore solution.

So, my journey to find a replacement for Ghost 2003 has started. After trying out the trials, this is what I have found so far:

Most of the backup programs are finding themselves using the least-common-denominator approach these days, which I find to be quite troubling.

- Ghost (latest version). Absolute complete rubbish. By "simplifying" everything, they have made it more complicated than needs be. Not to mention that my first attempt to install this program resulted in a hang. I had to uninstall and reinstall it. That definitely doesn't start out with much confidence. Ghost no longer allows for the creation of "boot media". Like most other backup programs, you now can only create "recovery media". This is boot media that allows you to do restores, but doesn't allow you to do backups. To do backups, you must run the main Window's Ghost program from an actual installed OS. I find this recent trend to be really, really, really, stupid.

- Acronis TrueImage. Installed fine. Does the "recovery media" allow you to do both backups and restores? I couldn't get the "recovery media" to even work. TI has a bunch of automated backup features, all of which I could care less about. I had two MAJOR problems with TI, however. The first problem is that it did not allow a backup image to be created of my /entire/ HDD (containing multiple OS's). I would have to backup each partition individually. This is inexcusable. I want the option to be able to backup my entire HDD into one image. I want every single bit off the HDD in that image, the MBR and everything. I don't want to have fix MBRs, bootloaders, fstab's, etc, after doing restores. My second major problem with TI is that I could not get the "recovery media" to boot. It hangs after the initial splash screen, with a blinking CAPS LOCK key. I believe it may be a SATA issue, however there has been little response to others with the same problem on Acronis's support forums. This was simply too troublesome for me to continue using TI. I had no confidence with TI. My two stars for TI is because "I didn't like it", obviously because the "recovery media" didn't even work for me.

- Macrium Reflect Free Edition. This is what I finally settled on for now. It works and works rather well, but like Ghost, the "recovery media" only allows for restores. Again, you have to actually be in Windows and running the main program to do backups. However, on the plus side, it does allow the entire HDD (with multiple OS's) to be backed up into a single image. It backed up everything: Vista, XP, Linux, Swap, FreeBSD. I was able to collect enough courage to try out a restore and it went without a hitch. I also made a backup of just the Vista partition, out of caution that I (unlikely) may want to fallback to Vista after the free Win7 upgrade arrives from Toshiba. I'm happy with Macrium Reflect (especially since it is free), but still would like to have the completely external approach. The "recovery media" runs in a Linux environment and loads a little on the slow side, however works well once it is loaded.

- FarStone DriveClone Express. This one seems to be exactly what I am after, however there are no trials to try it out. Willing to take a chance on it and spend the $32 (google for promo). If I do, I'll update this after giving it a spin.

- NTFS Active Boot Disk. This one not only also seemed to be exactly what I was after, but also seemed to really have potential. After downloading and trying out the trial, I am impressed with it for the most part. The actual installed program is simply to create boot media, either on a CD/DVD or on a USB drive. While it may be possible to get the other backup programs' boot media onto a USB drive, I really like how NTFS Active Boot Disk thought out to do it for you. Everything is done from the boot media: backups and restores. There are also quite a few other handy utilities on the boot media. I was able to not only backup the entire HDD (with multiple OS's) into one image, but also individual partitions. If the OS filesytem isn't natively supported by Active Boot Disk, you can still backup as a raw image. This means that this backup program will work with /everything/. The boot media runs in a WinPE environment and loads quickly. The downside on this program is that it is relatively expensive when compared with the others. I really like being able to do everything externally and also boot up from a USB drive on my keychain. Edit add: Now that I have used this program more, I am finding a few rough edges. I have yet to try doing a HDD restore, but I have been doing USB drive restores (which it also supports). The first attempt to restore a USB drive from an image always results in a (-5) error when it attempts to write the partition table, however it works fine on the second attempt. Also some of the WinPE utilities (i.e., File Explorer) give an error when deleting files. This may be from WinPE itself and not necessarily the Active Boot programs. While you can successfully do everything that this program is designed for, some things are needing a little "hand holding" and coercion. I feel as if Active Boot Disk and WinPE could use a little more polish.

Summary: It is unfortunate that there is no longer a single utility out there that simply just works extremely well. I'm finding this problem not only with backup programs, but also other utility programs of recent years. I feel as if software has taken a down turn over the last few years. Programs seem to be "dumbed down" these days and also released before they are fully polished. Try out several backup programs before you commit to one of them. While TrueImage didn't work for me, it may work for you. Give Macrium Reflect Free Edition a try. Many will likely find that this program does everything that need and does it well. Best of all, it is free. If you are like me in that you want a completely external approach to doing manual backups and restores, take a look at NTFS Active Boot Disk and look for reviews for FarStone DriveClone Express.

[Jan 15, 2010] Migrate to a virtual Linux environment with Clonezilla

Learn how to use the open source Clonezilla Live cloning software to convert your physical server to a virtual one. Specifically, see how to perform a physical-to-virtual system migration using an image-based method.

OpenSourceGhosting - HOSEF

There was a discussion on the hosef list of open source alternatives to ghost|| The basic idea was, how do you use linux/open source to backup or deploy windows systems? (On linux systems this will work too, though there are ways to do it that are more native to linux.) [This message||] gave me most of my clues, it mentions knoppix and partimage, as well as the [SystemRescueCd rescue cd||] that has [qtparted||] on it. Another post mentions a utility named [g4u||]. [g4l] is another project, maybe forked off of g4u? I'm having trouble finding reviews/descriptions/documentation.

Here are three approaches for three different situations:



Home Backup

  1. In windows, defrag your disk.
  2. Boot from a knoppix|| live CD and use [partImage] to copy the partition to a CD.
  3. To restore the image, boot from knoppix and use partimage in reverse.

For example, on my first try I used an external firewire disk (sda1). I booted knoppix, openned a shell, and

  1. su root
  2. mount /dev/sda1
  3. partimage

Make sure the disk where you plan to save the image has enough space and you have write permission. The partition you are copying should be dismounted. I had trouble trying to restore an image that had been saved using zip compression, but the unzipped version worked fine.

Lab, no netboot

  1. Set up a "golden" windows system, one that has everything you want and nothing you don't want.
  2. Defrag the partition.
  3. run sysprep to erase machine-specific info.
  4. Boot from Knoppix and use partimage and samba to copy the partition to a disk on the net, or to CDs.
  5. To restore the image, boot from knoppix and use partimage in reverse.

Lab with netboot

  1. Set up a netboot image that has partimage and samba.
  2. Defrag the partition.
  3. run sysprep to erase machine-specific info.
  4. Boot the client from the net image.
  5. check that all dependencies in partimage are satisfied by the client or use static.
  6. check to make sure the clients have ide-disk loaded and the nodes for the devices you are backing up/restoring exist.
  7. to fully automate a backup we need to have a script that fetches all the partition names and stores them in a unique folder after invoking partimage with the appropriate command line options. afaik this can't be left unattended for ntfs atm.
  8. Use partimage and samba to copy the partition to a disk on the net, or to CDs.
  9. To restore the image, boot from knoppix and use partimage in reverse.

You can use NFS instead of samba.

Reducing image sizes

This is from the g4upage, a few suggestions that should help with increasing the compression of any ghost-type image.

  1. Check the utilities and tips listed under section 5.10 Reducing the image size. There are some for various *nices and for Windows too.

[Sep 9, 2008] Clonezilla 1.2.0-20 (Live testing) by Steven

About: Clonezilla is a partition or disk cloning tool similar to Symantec Ghost. It saves and restores only blocks in use on the hard drive if the file system is supported. For unsupported file systems, dd is used instead. It has been used to clone a 5 GB system to 40 clients in about 10 minutes.

Changes: The language files fr_FR and ja_JP were updated. There is better support for the Asus Eee PC. Some minor bugs were fixed.

WikiStartEn - Linbox Rescue Server - Trac

The Linbox Rescue Server is an asset management software including 5 modules :

[Sep 2, 2008] Trinityhome Blog - Latest news

August 27, 2008 |

Yet another version of TRK 3.3, now at build 321. This is a release candidate for the final TRK 3.3.After that, work should start for TRK 4.0 and probably a long period of radio silence...

New stuff in this version:

-kernel 2.6.26. Hope this kernel is more stable on different hardware. I also eliminated a serious disk performance flaw: it seems that since some kernel around 2.6.23, the generic and slow IDE driver had become the default, resulting on really slow I/O performance on normally fast sata controllers. This "bug" has been present since build 310 and is now fixed. Generic IDE is only available as a modules anymore and so the "good" driver for your controller is now detected. Examples for this were machines with certain ICH8 controllers (and there 's lots of them).
-latest NTFS Tools and Library (2.0.0). Watch out with Windows Vista and earlier version of TRK. It could ruin your NTFS when f.e. trying to resize your volume. I will know, I messed up my own Vista. Luckily tesdisk got my partitions back, but I had to go through a lot of trouble afterwards to get my Vista back online.
-relocntfs: a patched version of ntfsreloc which does great things with the NTFS bootsector.
-mclone: haaa, now this is the finest new feature on TRK. Forget about the old clonexp in TRK, mclone or mass clone is a utility that allows you to clone an unlimited number of computers over multicast at the maximum speed of your hardware.
The main features are:
-make exact copies of any operating system
-optimized for Windows XP and Vista imaging using ntfsclone. Other filesystems are copied with dd-fast and scalable
-save to image and restore from image (to multicast) with optional 3 compression algorythms (gzip, bzip2 and 7-zip)
-restore original bootsector/ntfs c/h/s values. An old bug in many BIOS' sometimes gave wrong values for Cylinders/Heads/Sectors count. Although CHS is an old method for assigning disk geometry (LBA should be used), Windows XP and family still use it to assign addressing of their bootcode. Recent Linux kernels discard wrong C/H/S values and set it to the LBA values. This resulted on sometimes unbootable cloned Windows machines (the blinking cursor nightmare). Recently a patched version of relocntfs appeared (now called ntfsreloc) which is able to "force" original C/H/S values in your NTFS. Mclone does it automatically for you. Major feature over other cloning tools.
-run up to 50 different sessions separately over your LAN
-optional speed limitation. Just so your LAN doesn't get saturated.
-option to specify disks/partitions instead of just everything automatically

[Aug 28, 2008] FOG A Computer Cloning Solution - FOG Overview

Fog is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP and Vista that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. Fog doesn't use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don't really need to worry about drivers (unless there isn't a linux kernel module for it). Fog also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a 80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the data is less than 40GB.

Fog also includes a graphical Windows service that is used to change the hostname of the PC, restart the computer if a task is created for it, and auto import hosts into the FOG database. The service also installs printers, and does simple snap-ins.

[Aug 20, 2008] Clonezilla

You're probably familiar with the popular proprietary commercial package Norton Ghost®, and its OpenSource counterpart, Partition Image. The problem with these software packages is that it takes a lot of time to massively clone systems to many computers. You've probably also heard of Symantec's solution to this problem, Symantec Ghost Corporate Edition® with multicasting. Well, now there is an OpenSource clone system (OCS) solution called Clonezilla with unicasting and multicasting!

Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partition Image, ntfsclone, and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla server edition. Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla server edition is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. At the NCHC's Classroom C, Clonezilla server edition was used to clone 41 computers simultaneously. It took only about 10 minutes to clone a 5.6 GBytes system image to all 41 computers via multicasting!

Features of Clonezilla

[Aug 19, 2008] UBCD for Windows

UBCD4Win is a bootable recovery CD that contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the most complete and easy to use free computer diagnostic tool. Almost all software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. Some of the tools included are "free for personal use" copies so users need to respect these licenses. A few of the tools included in UBCD4Win are paid for and licensed software owned by UBCD4win. On occasion we work with software companies/authors for permission to include their software in our download or have requested their software better support PE. Users can freely share copies of UBCD4Win with friends but selling UBCD4Win for a profit is not acceptable. We have worked hard for many years helping people for free with this project, others should not make money from our hard work. If you are a dialup user having a hard time downloading UBCD4Win, please visit our ordering page. UBCD4Win is based on Bart's PE©. Bart's PE© builds a Windows® "pre-install" environment CD, basically a simple Windows® XP booted from CD. UBCD4Win includes network support and allows you the ability to modify NTFS volumes, recover deleted files, create new NTFS volumes, scan hard drives for viruses, etc. Our download includes almost everything you need to repair your system problems. This project has been put together to be the ultimate recovery cd and not a replacement OS (Operating System). Please visit the "List of Tools" page for a complete list of what is included in the latest version of UBCD4Win.

There are requirements for building this CD which can and may make it difficult for everyone to build the project. Please understand that these requirements and restrictions are due to copyright laws, etc. When starting this project I wanted it to be as easy as possible. I wanted it to be a simple ISO file download just like the original Ultimate Boot CD. I had to weigh the ease of build and functionality very carefully. After much thought and research I decided that Bart's PE© was the best way to accomplish this task. That decision required a different type of build and more steps for the end user. Yes more complicated, but I prefer to think of these additional steps in a positive way. We provide detailed instructions and our forum for help. Inexperienced users will feel a sense of accomplishment and gain knowledge when they successfully build the CD.

Remember that we are a freeware tool. We still have hosting and other costs to pay every month. If UBCD4Win has helped you and you are able to, please consider donating

[Aug 18, 2008] Partition Saving point d'entrée entry point

This is another "Last of Mogicans" can be used from DOS boot disk.

Saving is a DOS and Windows program that is used to save, restore and copy hard-drive, partitions, floppy disk and DOS or Windows devices.

With this program you could save all data on a partition to a file (such as you could save this file on a CD for example). Then if something goes wrong, you can completely restore the partition from the backup file. You no longer have to reinstall every piece of software from scratch. All you have to do is restore the partition from the backup file and then update any software that was modified since the backup was created.

Note: beware of software which installs or modifies files on multiple partitions (e.g. Windows programs which update the registry or DLLs that may be on other partitions). If one partition is saved or restored, you must include others (otherwise, inconsistencies could prevent software from running).

Partition Saving is able to compress data (using the gzip compression algorithm) and split it up into several files (e.g. if you need to save a 2 Gb partition onto a CD, this can be done by compressing it and, if necessary, splitting it up into 650 Mb files). Most partition types are supported. In the case of FAT (12, 16 and 32), ext2/3 and NTFS partitions, you can choose between saving all sectors or in-use sectors only.

For more information, please read documentation (a current text version is included in the program files, but the FAQ section may be more recent).

To download Partition Saving click here.

If you need help, you could email me (I will update the FAQ page with comments and questions received). If you do not receive a reply after some time, please try again, perhaps your email or the subsequent reply became lost or the mail title was not explicit enough.

Official website of Partition Saving is If you put link on some web pages, please use only this address, not the one this one is redirected to.

Thanks to all those who discovered bugs and helped me to resolve them, to those who asked me questions and to all who sent emails with encouragement or advice to improve this program.

[Jan 6, 2008] Clonezilla 1.0.9-1 (Live testing) by Steven

Jan 6th 2008| Freshmeat

About: Clonezilla is a partition or disk cloning tool similar to Symantec Ghost. It saves and restores only blocks in use on the hard drive if the file system is supported. For unsupported file systems, dd is used instead. It has been used to clone a 5 GB system to 40 clients in about 10 minutes.

Changes: An option to use Partclone was added (experimental). Partclone supports ext2, ext3, Reiserfs, Reiser4, XFS, and HFS+. Therefore by using "-q2" in Clonezilla, the HFS+ filesystem of Intel Macs can be saved efficiently. A new option was added: -q1|--force-to-use-dd, which forces dd to be used to save any filesystem. An option was added to remove page and hibernation files of MS Windows before saving an image.

[Dec 20,2007] Project details for Partimage Is Not Ghost by Natan

Partimage Is Not Ghost 2.01.10

About: Partimage Is Not Ghost (PING) is a live Linux ISO based on LFS (Linux From Scratch). It can be burnt on a CD and booted, or integrated in a PXE/RIS environment. Several tools that make it the perfect choice for easily backing up and restoring whole partitions are included. It supports backups to and from SMB shares, backup of BIOS data, the ability to blank the local admin's password, creation of bootable restoration DVDs, the ability to partition and format a disk before installing Windows, and more.

Changes: Users have the option to have PING reduce NTFS partitions to the maximum before backing them up. That way, such images can be restored to smaller partitions. OS upgrades: Linux kernel, Samba 3.0.28, dhcpcd 3.1.8, NTFS-3G 1.1120, and FUSE 2.7.2.

[Nov 16, 2007] GNU ddrescue 1.6 (Stable)

GNU ddrescue 1.6 (Stable)
by Antonio Diaz Diaz - Fri, Nov 16th 2007 07:08 PDT

About: GNU ddrescue is a data recovery tool. It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, cdrom, etc) to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors. GNU ddrescue does not truncate the output file if not asked to. So, every time you run it on the same output file, it tries to fill in the gaps. The basic operation of GNU ddrescue is fully automatic. That is, you don't have to wait for an error, stop the program, read the log, run it in reverse mode, etc. If you use the logfile feature of GNU ddrescue, the data is rescued very efficiently (only the needed blocks are read). Also you can interrupt the rescue at any time and resume it later at the same point.

Changes: This release skips faster over damaged areas. A new pass has been added that trims error areas backward before splitting. Support for sparse output files has been added. Blocks are now split at sector boundaries. The new option "--fill" has been added. This release can resume an interrupted retry pass instead of reinitiating it. It achieves perfect resumability if interrupted during trimming or splitting and handles SIGHUP and SIGTERM. The "--quiet" option quiets error messages. Consistency checks have been added to detect bugs. Welcome to

Clonezilla 1.0.2-1 (Live testing)
by Steven - Fri, Apr 13th 2007 02:03 PDT

About: Clonezilla is a partition or disk cloning tool similar to Symantec Ghost. Unlike other open source clone tools such as G4U or G4L, Clonezilla saves and restores only blocks in use on the hard drive if the file system is supported. For unsupported file systems, dd is used instead. It has been used to clone a 5 GB system to 40 clients in about 10 minutes.

Changes: A helper program was added to make it easier to mount a device or resource as an image home. Clonezilla is run only in the first console (tty1) when logging in as casper instead of running /etc/rc2.d/S99ocs-live-run. This allows other consoles (2-6) to be available when clonezilla is running. Some modifications were done to increase security.

Acronis True Image 9.0 Downloadable Software - Retail at

$30 for download. Main advantage that this is Windows program like with Ghost 2005 or lateryou can use your PC during the image creation.Unlike ghost 2003 foes not work on windows server -- you need to buy server version. - Acronis Revs True Image In my informal tests, Ghost 9 imaged a 3.2GB partition in 1 minute, 25 seconds, generating a 1.4GB image file. My shipping copy of True Image 8 completed an image of the same file in 2 minutes, 42 seconds, but it produced a smaller, 1.2GB file. (True Image 7 took 5 minutes, 34 seconds, making a 2.5GB file.)

The new Acronis True Image 8 feels more like a maintenance release than a major upgrade over version 7. It does, however, boost the backup application's performance to levels comparable to those of Symantec's recently launched (and quite speedy) Norton Ghost 9.

Both programs create sector-by-sector snapshots of your hard drive for easy recovery after a system crash; but in tests conducted for our recent review of Ghost 9, it performed dramatically faster than True Image 7 did, producing smaller images. Like Ghost 9, True Image 8 skips the re-creatable swap and hibernation files, yielding similar speeds and even smaller image sizes.

In my informal tests, Ghost 9 imaged a 3.2GB partition in 1 minute, 25 seconds, generating a 1.4GB image file. My shipping copy of True Image 8 completed an image of the same file in 2 minutes, 42 seconds, but it produced a smaller, 1.2GB file. (True Image 7 took 5 minutes, 34 seconds, making a 2.5GB file.)

Though Ghost 9 is speedier at creating images, True Image 8 is much faster at booting from the recovery disc. In my tests, Ghost 9 took a whopping 2 minutes, 25 seconds to launch, while True Image 8 took only around 15 seconds.

New tweaks in True Image 8 enable you to verify images before restoring them; and like version 7, version 8 can create incremental backups.

True Image 8 enjoys some clear advantages over Ghost 9. It works with any version of Windows (Ghost 9 works only with XP and 2000), it doesn't depend on Microsoft's .Net framework the way its competitor does, and its full version is $20 less expensive.

[Dec 3, 2004] The FreeBSD Diary -- Disk cloning with Acronis True Image

I was chatting to people on IRC about my hardware failure. I mentioned I planned to ghost the disk ("ghost" being a synonym for clone, derived, I expect from Norton Ghost, a well respected disk cloning application).

Cloning an XP disk is not as simple as it sounds. During my googling, I found a few references to id generation. That is, XP keeps an ID somewhere on the drive and this ID has to be reset when cloning the disk. The references indicated that commercial products such as Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image can reset this ID appropriately. A straight dd won't do that.

My experience supports that idea, but I have no proof. I may be encountering some other problem. I found that Acronis True Image did what I wanted. Using dd failed. Mind you, I'm now unable to boot from the original system drive. I don't know why. Perhaps it has been corrupted during the process. I suspect that is why I didn't get dd to work. Read on!

Disk Cloning with Acronis True Image

I expected that installing RAID under XP would be the most challenging. It was actually straight forward. I installed a 3Ware card, hooked up the drives, and pressed ALT-3 when presented with that option during the booting process. I configured the disks for RAID-1 (mirror).

The difficult part was to clone the existing XP boot drive into the RAID array. A hardware RAID array looks exactly like a single drive to the operating system. That should simplify things.

The cloning software I chose was recommended by someone in the Bacula IRC channel. They mentioned Acronis True Image 8.0 by Acronis. This product has a free trial version which lasts for 15 days. I tried it. It worked. I cannot tell the difference between the original drive and the RAID array. Acronis True Image has a nice little Wizard which guides you through the cloning process. I will not go into detail.

... ... ...

I have great words to say about Acronis True Image 8.0. I looked at using Norton Ghost. Actually, I bought Norton Ghost, but will be returning it unopened. The advantage I see in using Acronis True Image is price and download. Acronis True Image costs less than Norton Ghost and you can download it.

Recommended Links

Softpanorama hot topic of the month

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Alternatives to Norton Ghost (Imaging - Cloning programs)

Automated System Recovery overview in Windows XP

Knoppix links

  1. "KNOPPIX Linux Live CD: What license does the KNOPPIX-CD use?". Retrieved on 2007-07-16.
  3. a b Knoppix Documentation Wiki:Cheat codes
  4. - Live CD

Free hard drive Backup and Restore, hard drive Image and Cloning Utilities ( -- a very good list. Highly recommended.

Disk cloning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Contains good discussion of problems in cloning bootable windows partitions, Sysprep, a utility which runs hardware detection scans and sets the SID and computer name freshly when the machine boots and Universal Imaging Utility from Binary Research (original developers of Symantec's Ghost) which incorporates a large number of hardware device drivers into the sysprep routine.


SystemRescueCd is a Linux system on a bootable CD-ROM for repairing your system and recovering your data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk. It contains a lot of system utilities (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It is very easy to use: just boot the CDROM. The kernel supports most of the important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

If this is the first time you use SystemRescueCd, please read the Quick start guide (english)

Disk cloning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Disk image - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Disk image emulator

Loop device

ntfsprogs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Contain nfsclone

List of disk cloning software - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Backup software for data backup and disaster recovery - Acronis

Partition Saving

g4u - Harddisk Image Cloning for PCs this is bit by bit copying without understanding of underling filesystem so the ability to shrink, enlarge partitions is lost.



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