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I want to create a ghost or image of a fresh Windows XP development environment with all the various bits of software installed and ready to go, so that when the OS gets clogged or the main disk fails I can simply install the ghost rather than having to run through the entire install and setup process all over again.

What is the best way to go about doing this?

Cheers.

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With the exception of total disk failures, have you considered virtualization? When you have a 'clogged up' making a new one from your virtual hard drive is far faster than restoring from a ghost image or backup. –  DaveParillo Sep 26 '09 at 5:55

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RADIFIED - Guide to Norton Ghost presents what many consider the ultimate back-up strategy. It is based on features found in Ghost, a hard drive imaging/cloning software program developed by Symantec. Altho designed around Ghost (considered the most reliable application of its kind), the strategies presented here (such as performing a test-restore, to ensure your back-up image will work when you really need it) can be applied to any disk cloning program. After nearly 9 years on the 'Net - and countless updates - it is still the site's most requested Windows tutorial. Users of Ghost from all over the world contribute regularly to the insights it contains, which might be why its popularity continues to grow. When you realize how much time & misery Ghost's supernatural disaster recovery features can save you.

This guide of course is focused the real Ghost software.

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Not to be confused with their consumer product, which is also branded Ghost but in fact is based on PowerQuest Drive Image.

the different editions can be identified by their version: anything up to version 8 & version 11 (aka Ghost Solution Suite) is the 'real deal' (versions prior to 8 are not supported in 32bit environments), versions 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14 are not, entirely different ballgame altogether.

Ghost @ Wikipedia

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