My Norton Ghost 2003 Adventure

2003-07-18 (Last updated 2005-07-23 with new e-mail address.)

Send comments about this text to the author.  (The author is a SuSE user; the e-mail address is intentionally misspelled to thwart spammers.)  One can get the author's PGP public key from the MIT keyserver.

The Goal

I wanted to make a backup of the software that came pre-installed on my Compaq Presario R3000Z.  I had received Norton Ghost 2003 earlier in the year as a gift, and decided this was the perfect use for it.  It would allow me to make a snapshot 'image' of the R3000Z's hard drive, allowing me mess with it all I want without worrying about destroying anything.  If something got messed up, reseting it to the factory configuration would be a snap.

Accomplishing The Goal

First, I had to load Ghost up on a Windows machine so I could use its boot disk creator to make a floppy disk.  (Yes, I paid extra to get a floppy drive for my R3000Z.  I am afraid to break the habit.)  I quickly loaded Windows 98SE up on one my computers and installed Ghost.

I wanted to save the R3000Z's drive image off to another computer's hard drive.  Having a big fat file on a hard disk would be most convenient; I could save it off to a DVD+R or DVD+RW at a later time allows the user to make a boot floppy with Microsoft Network support.  (In other words, the Server Message Block [SMB] protocol.)  Using it, I could have Ghost map a drive over my home network to a shared folder and write the drive image file there.

Sadly, one needs to provide Ghost with some of Microsoft's networking files in order for it to be able to make these SMB-enabled boot disks.  Idiotically, The Norton Ghost 2003 manual never tells the user where to find those files!  Going to Symantec's support website for Ghost, I searched for an answer and came up with a reproduction of the near useless information in their manual.  After searching some more, I eventually found an article on where I could get these files.  (Symantec must love giving their users 'not quite enough' information.  Next to the end of that article, the writer makes the comment, "The installation files for the Microsoft Client for MS-DOS are available for download from Microsoft's FTP site."  But they never give a URL!)

Once the "MS DOS LAN client files" are loaded into Ghost (through Ghost's Options --> DOS type setting), one can create the boot disk.  Optionally, one can load the client files during step 4.

Making The Drive Mapping Boot Disk

  1. Ghost Utilities --> Norton Ghost Boot Wizard.
  2. Select "Drive Mapping Boot Disk"
  3. Choose the "Realtek RTL8139 Fast Ethernet" for the network driver, as this driver is compatible with the Realtek RTL8101L Fast Ethernet network interface built into the R3000Z.
  4. Choose to use PC-DOS.*
  5. Enter the network name you want the computer to have after booting off the floppy, the user name it should use to connect to the shared drive (I used "Z:"), the Windows' domain (or workgroup) name, the drive letter and the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path to the share being mapped.  I had shared out a 12 GiB drive from this same Win98SE machine, so I entered that information.
  6. Select dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) or enter the static Internet protocol (IP) address information.
  7. Choose the floppy disk drive (A:) and whether to format it (yes).  A quick format is optional.

*Ghost does not appear to work correctly when using MS-DOS files for drive mapping.  I kept getting "NET0100:  Incorrect value for keyword WINS_SERVER0 detected in PROTOCOL.INI FILE by Tiny RFC.  Tiny RFC 1.0 not loaded" errors.  I manually edited PROTOCOL.INI to input my WINS server.  ("WINS_SERVER0=aaa bbb ccc ddd" -- where the letters represent the octets in the IP address of my WINS server, which I've intentionally left out of this document due to privacy concerns.)  However, I then started getting "Error 1:  An internal error occurred.  The WORKSTATION service is not started."  After several failed tries with the MS-DOS files, I tried it with the PC-DOS files and it worked perfectly.

Using The Drive Mapping Boot Disk To Save The R3000Z's Drive Image

  1. Maybe I missed Ghost's notification when making the boot disk or Ghost's statement in its manual that the ghost.exe executable wouldn't be put on the floppy disk. (Nah, it just didn't say.)  So, after one boots the R3000Z off the drive mapping boot disk, it leaves one at a command prompt.  Since floppy drives are slow, I just copied C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\ghost.exe to the share to which the floppy disk maps.  That way, once the drive mapping boot disk gets to the command prompt, I could just run the program over the network.  (I actually edited the A:\autoexec.bat file to do this for me by adding this line to the end of it:  "Z:\ghost.exe".)
  2. Boot off the drive mapping boot disk.  After confirming the user name and domain password**, Norton Ghost 2003 starts. 
  3. A license agreement warning will appear asking to mark the hard drive as 'usable' by Ghost.  Continue without marking the drives.
  4. Local --> Disk --> To Image.***
  5. Select the source hard drive.  (The only one to select.)
  6. Save the image to the networked share drive.  (In my case, the Z: drive.  I also gave it a description so I would know this was a disk image of the R3000Z fresh from the factory.)
  7. Ghost will warn that there is "not enough space" and ask if one should use compression.  Choose to use High compression.
  8. Ghost will again warn that there "may not be enough space" and ask if one should use spanning.  Choose Yes.
  9. After a final 'are you sure'-type message before beginning, Ghost will make the image.

**Does anybody know how to get rid of that confirmation?

***I chose to make an image of the disk instead of the partition since I wasn't sure if Compaq had put something in the drive's master boot record.  I doubted they did, but making an image of the disk would ensure I captured it.

Making the image takes about 45 minutes over my 100 Mbps network.  The disk image ends up being in two files; the fist one is 2.15 GB while the second is 1.82 GB.  (Remember, the NTFS partition that came on the R3000Z was 21.5 GB in size, with 6.1 GB of it used.  So, it did pretty well compressing that 6.1 GB down into 3.97 GB.  35% decrease in size!)  Ghost reported the average speed of the transfer to be about 135 MB/minute.

Why did it span two files?  I thought it might be because of a limit of the FAT32 partition that my image was being written to.  Looking at Microsoft's Size Limitations in NTFS and FAT File Systems, I see that is wrong.  I don't know why it spanned two files.

Finally, Ghost allows one to write an image directly to a CD-R/RW or DVD+R/+RW.  I tried that, and it worked with my R3000Z's DVD+R/+RW/CD-writer drive.  However, it was much slower than writing the image over the network to a shared drive.  It was so slow, I didn't even allow it to complete.  It was averaging about 44 MB/minute.  (Thus, it would have taken over two hours to complete.)

Restoring The Drive Image

I did two tests of restoring this drive image to my R3000Z.  The first was a restoration of the drive, while the second was just a restoration of the NTFS partition in the drive image.  Both worked as one would expect:  the restoration of the drive wiped the master boot record while the restoration of just the NTFS partition did not.  Both took approximately 30 minutes to restore.

Final Comments

One good thing about Norton Ghost 2003 is its ability to work with ext2, ext3 and Linux swap partitions.  I have used it for these partitions, and it appears to work fine.

As noted above, making an image of a drive will also backup the master boot record, which is where GRUB or LILO is normally installed.  Ghost restores these boot loaders when doing a disk restore.  However, something gets screwed up -- at least in my test.

I used GRUB, and it will start to come up only to hang before it displays the GRUB menu.  I'm no GRUB expert, but I'm guessing something changed slightly in the disk layout; the partitions were no longer at the exact sectors they were before or something.  The fix was simple, though.  I used the SuSE install disc's repair installation option.