A few things I found whilst drive imaging with Symantec Ghost

I need to rebuild one of my PCs before lending it to someone for a few days but before I do that I want to take an image of it. If I had the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 set up at home then that would be reasonably straightforward but I don’t, and the old drive imaging technologies will be fine for this – at least that’s what I thought until I spent half the night and a good chunk of this morning fighting with Symantec Ghost… So, here’s a few of the things that I’ve (re-)discovered about Ghost in the last few hours.

  • Using Ghost in peer-to-peer mode does require the slave and the master machines to be running the same version of Ghost – it will present a version mismatch if you try and run different versions.
  • Ghost 6.x Enterprise has a multicast option but I couldn’t get it to work (it was always greyed out for me). Symantec’s knowledge base suggests that this may be down to TCP/IP issues and I’m pretty sure that packet-level network drivers are required with the MS-DOS client (the Windows server can use the normal Windows network settings) but, even with a suitable packet driver loaded, I gave up after a few hours without success.
  • GhostCast Server uses (UDP) port 6666 for communications.
  • GhostCast Server 8.x will create a Windows Firewall exception for itself but the exception still needs to be enabled manually.
  • On a multi-homed server, there seems to be no way to select the NIC on which the GhostCast Server presents a session.
  • Multicasting also seems to need the client and server versions to match one another. 16-bit Ghost 7.x should work with an 8.x server but it wasn’t working out for me with 7.5 and 8.2 (32-bit 8.x clients were connecting to the server fine, so I knew it was working, but I didn’t want to image those machines – and I didn’t have a copy of the 7.x server).
  • Compression adds a lot of time to the imaging process.

Eventually, I got everything working with a 16-bit copy of Ghost 8.2 running on MS-DOS (to be completely accurate, it was a Windows ME startup disk created from Windows XP) communicating with a GhostCast Server 8.2 running on Windows Server 2008.

And for anyone who is wondering why I was messing about with 16-bit executables and MS-DOS (in these days of Windows PE), Toffa suggested that I should try a Windows PE disk with the 32-bit ghost client. Although that would have let me access USB-attached external storage, I didn’t have enough space on a USB drive and was storing my image on a server. Windows XP (and so PE) doesn’t natively recognise the network card on the machine I was imaging, so that would have required me to extend the Windows PE image and provide additional driver support. Somehow, using a universal network boot disk seemed like the easy option.

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