Hard drive image software--suggestions?

Has anybody out there used software which will allow them to create their own system recovery CD? My HP CD writer included a disaster recovery program which allows me to do this on my home PC, but I would like to use a program which would allow me to burn images of our company’s laptop computers drives onto recovery CDs which could be used when the laptops are out on the road.

We have an external USB CDR/W drive, so I figure it would be a snap to create bootable recovery CDs which would put the laptops in working order fairly quickly.

Any suggestions on cloning/disk image recovery software?


You can try Norton Ghost. You setup a machine, then you make a “Ghost Image”. You can then install that image on other machines, or use it to restore the system.

We use Norton Ghost at my place of work. We image machines in our public computer labs and if one has any kind of problem, it is re-imaged in 15 minutes or so. It is easy to use.

I’m sure there are other packages but Ghost does us just fine.

I made the mistake of buying NTI’s Backup Now. I wanted the ability to do full drive images and incremental file backup, and this product seemed to do it all. I had read some negative reviews online, but also some positive ones. It even won PC Magazine’s Editors Choice award.

Long story short, I finally got it to work after several weeks of headaches, but no thanks to their tech support people. The have a useless tech support site and the emailed responses sound like they are reading them off a very short list of canned responses (“use higher quality media”) (Turns out my problem was having “Auto Insert Notification” checked, which they never suggested).

Use Norton Ghost. We use it here at work. It not’s pretty, but it works.

Ghost is fine, but I usually use Drive Image Pro (PowerQuest). For some reason I’m unable to reach the proper page on PowerQuest’s site right now, but the most recent version is Drive Image Pro 4.0, IIRC. Either Drive Image or Ghost will suit most needs. There’s also an older utillity called HDCopy, if you can find it.

I’ve considered Ghost, but I’m not sure how it would work for our sales reps in the field. Can it actually make an automated recovery CD, or will it require a bit of technical prowess for the end user to get the job done?

Ghost can, with some good work, create an automated recovery CD. Drive Image will also work for this, and with the right knowledge, will, IMO, do it better. Unfortunately, using Drive Image for automated recovery CDs, at least in the versions I’m familiar with (2.0, 3.0), requires a fair bit of arcane knowledge and work, so use Ghost.

What you need is:

  • Computers that will boot from CD
  • All the drivers for your CD-ROM drives
  • A good image for your hard drive
  • Some experience with batchfiles or scripts.

I’m not sure if the recent versions of Ghost come with a boot disk util, but if you need to create a bootable disk, and don’t have a util, you may want to lookup Caldera OpenDOS for your bootable OS. Create the CD with all the necessary images, OS, and drivers on it. You’ll need to create a batchfile that will launch and run Ghost with all the parameters filled in: What to do, which file to use. Alternatively, depending on the technical savvy and ability to follow instructions your field sales people posses, you could accompany the bootable CD with “cookbook” instructions. I would go fully automated, if possible, but if you’re having trouble with that, sometimes a little education of, and some trust in, your end users will do the trick. Or maybe not.

I’m sorry this is so generic, but I’ve not had to do this recently, and the last time was using Drive Image.

I’ve a colleague who has done automated Ghost recovery image work, using a hidden partition on the hard drive, and the whole thing kicked-off by executing a batchfile from the “run” command. I’m not sure how he did it, but I’ve got an email out for him to contact me with the details.


The laptops I will be backing up will be a combination of IBM ThinkPads and Dell Latitudes which, if memory serves me, all have the capability of booting from CD-ROM. Gathering all the needed drivers shouldn’t be much of a problem. I pretty much reconfigured all of these units a few months back and didn’t encounter any surprises.

I’m kind of leaning towards getting Drive Image 4.0 to do the job. It has gotten good write ups and looks like it could be what I need.

Has anybody out there used Drive Image 4.0 yet? If so, what do you think of it?

I’ve only used Symantec’s ghost for imaging hard drives, and I would recommend it. I think it’s a fairly common sense sort of application.

One thing to remember is that you cannot save the ghost image onto the drive you’re making an image of. For example, you want to make an image of drive C:. You can’t save the image to C: because you’re making an image of it. You can save the image to a network drive or to a different partition on the hard drive, or a separate hard drive if you’re that well stocked.