Norton Ghost 12.0. Windows
Sometimes Symantec returns to its roots in Peter Norton’s elegant but extremely complex and advanced world of somewhat finicky utility software. Norton Ghost 12.0 is one example. It does what it is supposed to, quickly and efficiently, but it is only marginally user-friendly for the average computer owner and really should be considered only by the advanced PC users at whom it is targeted.
Norton Ghost is a backup and recovery program – and there are quite a few of these, including Symantec’s own Norton Save & Restore – but it has significant differences that will be important to “power users.” Most importantly, earlier versions (the latest of them was 10.0; there was no 11.0 sold separately) were not Vista-compatible, and 12.0 is. In other ways, 12.0 continues to do what users of Norton Ghost like: it makes all sorts of backups, whether of a full hard drive or a partition (and if you don’t know what a partition is, this is not a product for you); it can recover data even in case of operating-system failure; and its encryption and error-checking features prevent unauthorized access to backups.
The new features of 12.0 make it easily the most advanced – and complex – Norton Ghost yet. It allows system restoration from a remote location; allows creation of one-time backups whose specifications need not be saved for later use; is integrated with Google Desktop for faster data recovery through searchable backup indexes; and lets users who are part of a network back up the data of other, presumably less expert users on the same network. And 12.0 performs all these tasks – plus others carried over from prior versions – more quickly than those earlier versions did.
The main concession to simplicity in 12.0 is a single-view interface similar to that in the latest version of Norton Utilities. This gives a quick status report, with a big green check mark front and center if everything is fine – and a brown exclamation point of warning if something needs attention. This is a small but nice touch, since it provides conformity of appearance to users running multiple Symantec utilities.
Not everything in 12.0 will necessarily please users of earlier versions of Norton Ghost. The new program will restore data from backups made with prior versions, but its file format is new – it does not support the prior .gho format. And while its backup and restoration features are impressive, they do not include a way to create images from a boot CD or floppy disk – perhaps a matter of little importance now that floppies are essentially obsolete, but perhaps significant for the sort of advanced user who will be able to take full advantage of the functionality of this software.
Norton Ghost 12.0 is certainly not for everyone – there are easier-to-use, less expensive and less complex backup utilities out there. But for advanced users, including administrators of small-business or home networks, this software offers a level of flexibility that neatly matches its level of complexity.