Sneak Preview: Symantec Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition

A powerful centralized management tool was added to the drive-cloning software.

January 16, 2004

2 Min Read
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The Ghost Console database tool identifies and inventories all systems on the network, sorts them according to extremely customizable criteria, allows the assignment of custom tasks to specifically identified systems, and provides detailed reports of client specifications and task progress. Automated tasks include software distribution, disk image/restore with Sysprep support, incremental disk backup/restore, User Preference backup/restore, system configuration, and complex software installation and uninstall through the creation of Ghost AI packages.


• Powerful Ghost Console management tool

• New 32-bit Ghost.exe with WinPE support• USB/FireWire support for removable media


• Console's task configuration system is complex

• Limited support for non-Windows environments• No RAID support

Symantec Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition, starts at $36.20 for 10 to 24 nodes. Symantec Corp., (408) 517-8000.

I set up an administrative Ghost Console Service account for security purposes, then created a list of available management domains for access to my client systems. Next,

I remotely installed the Ghost Console Client on each of the Windows systems on the network. Client installation creates an invisible Virtual Ghost Boot Partition on the system disk to provide space for Ghost's PC-DOS boot environment and network drivers.

This virtual boot partition lets remotely restart, and image or restore the system, without boot disks. However, it requires a free primary slot in the partition table. In addition, the virtual partition is incompatible with compressed drives and is not supported on spanned, striped or RAID 5 volumes. The absence of RAID support raises some question regarding Ghost's server-level capabilities, but Ghost has no problem cloning servers running on single-drive systems.

I defined several hardware and software filters and created matching Dynamic Machine folders. Then, using the Console's menu-driven management tools, I created task objects, associated data files, scheduled operations and defined the specific machines or groups for execution. I experimented with imaging a client hard disk directly to the server, multicasting and executing Windows Hotfix files on multiple clients, transferring user information from one Windows machine to another, and distributing an image to a Client Staging Area folder and restoring that image while preserving the Staging folder on that same partition.

The software passed every test, though the substantial number of configuration options left room for error. The menu-based scripting of tasks in Ghost CE is challenging to learn, but the trade-off is flexibility. The Ghost Console's ability to create detailed filters for system identification, sorting and reporting will be exceptionally useful in managing networks with widely varied machine types and software builds.Steven Hill owns and operates ToneCurve Technology, a digital imaging consulting company. Write to him at [email protected].

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