Best ghosting software?

So my new self-built PC has been holding up quite well. I have 3 640GB SATA drives in it. Two of them are in RAID 1 as the boot partition, holding the OS (Vista Ultimate 64) and all files. The third one is yet unformatted.

I think I would like to have the third one be a backup of the first partition – a fully bootable backup. That way if the power goes out while I’m doing something strenuous and both RAID drives get hosed, I still have a bootable drive and can pick right up where I left off. I am only at about 45% utilization on the first partition, so I don’t anticipate needing a lot more space, and if I do I will probably get a fat expendable external drive. (Though probably I should have the external drive be the backup, and have the third internal drive be for scratch space if and when I get into HD home video editing… but my question still stands in that scenario.)

What’s the best ghosting software to do the job? If said software is expensive, what’s the best cheap alternative? Big BIG bonus points if it has an incremental mode which supports updating the ghost image without completely re-ghosting from scratch.

I’ve used a range of Acronis products. True Image for personal backup, as you’ve described, and full-on image rollouts over the LAN (Snap Deploy version). Works great, and it supports incremental image updates.

i love acronis trueimage though test restoring since the linux that loads their boot cd/usb disk can freeze midrestore/imaging with some mobos (and require an apci off switch)


Free acronis with Western digital or Seagate.

You can also get a demo online. IMHO thought I’d recommend buying a physical copy so you have a hard-pressed trojan-free Acronis disk for restores.

Another Acronis trueimage user here. I really like the ability to create a boot cd with the trueimage program on there and supports lots of internal/external connectivity options.

I see nothing Acronistic about that link. What am I missing?

Thanks folks, looks like Acronis FTW.

They don’t call it acronis, but it’s “Powered By Acronis”. I downloaded it to confirm.

It’s funny but I just had a slew of bad clusters on a boot drive. Acronis failed to read the source because it had way too many bad clusters - vista complete restore image allowed me to get a working image to a new drive.

I’ve used this and it works pretty well. It doesn’t support incremental imaging tho but I like the flexibility where I can create a DOS boot disk and restore off a network share.

Ideally for a home system, you could have a smaller OS partition, restore that first then easily access your image store to restore your larger partitions (plus this program allows you to go into the images and retrieve individual files if needed).

Dan Rutter wrote a worthwhile online backup piece a few weeks ago (mainly iDrive). (Yes, I know, it’s a different solution for different requirements. Probably still worth the read if you’re shopping around).

If I were to backup an entire harddrive, would the best solution be to use ghosting/imaging, or is there a more - or just as - feasible solution?

Backing up a partition/disk image is always faster, in my experience, than performing a backup which actually ‘copies’ files. I can’t really explain the how or why, suffice to say that if I take a hard drive with 10 gigs of files and do a disk image to another drive, it might take 15 minutes. But if I were to directly transfer all 10 gigs of files to the same backup drive, it could take 2 to 4 times as long.

When you restore a disk image each sector is (ideally) written in sequence, and with very little processing overhead. When you copy the individual files the hard disk has to move back and forth for every single file between the file data area, the directory area, and the disk space management structures. So it’s no surprise that this method would take much longer.

Ah, nice. I always wondered, but never really understood the ‘why’ there.

Just as a side note, a decent UPS will keep this from ever, ever actually happening.