Norton Ghost Review

Update: Norton Ghost has been discontinued as of April, 2013.  Current users can still get support through June, 2014.  I recommend Acronis True Image as an alternative.

Norton Ghost is professional backup and recovery software from Symantec.  It lets you create disk images, which are exact copies of a drive that can later be restored.  Ghost also supports file and folder backups, incremental backups, and powerful recovery features.

Ghost main screen

Editor's Rating:
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User Rating:
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)


  • Full disk imaging capabilities
  • Backs up files and folders
  • Recovery disk can scan for viruses
  • ThreatCon Level monitors global threats


  • Have to download recovery disk separately
  • Inexperienced tech support

The Bottom Line

The advanced features of Norton Ghost make it well suited for business environments, or home power users.

Backing Up

When first started, Ghost will scan your computer and recommend a backup strategy.  The default is to backup the entire C: drive every week, and My Documents every day.

Ghost Easy Setup guide

Ghost first starts in Easy Setup mode, to help new users learn the software.

You’re then given the option to run the backup now, or according to a schedule.

Ghost supports incremental backups by default, as well as compression.  You can optionally set a password for your backups.

Ghost can also integrate with Google Desktop, which would let you locate files for recovery within that program.

There’s a status page, which shows a calendar of completed and upcoming backup jobs.

When the backup is done, a big green check mark will show on the main screen, letting you know the computer is protected.


You’ll need to download the Recovery Disk ISO image and burn it to a CD.  Or, you can extract the ISO and let Ghost burn the CD.

Once you boot into the recovery disk, you can restore your computer.

Ghost recovery environment

Booted into the Ghost recovery environment.

The recovery environment has many features, including a virus scanner, a pcAnywhere host, a boot.ini editor, and many other utilities typically unheard of in backup and recovery software.

Ghost also has the option to recover multiple drives at once.

Ghost restore selection

Select which recovery point you want to restore.

Ghost restored my computer without any problems in about two hours.


ThreatCon Level

This is an indicator of how much malware is floating around in cyberspace at any given time.  For a higher threat level, backups can be configured to run more often.

RecoveryPoint Browser

View and recover files within your recovery points.

Virtual Conversions

Ghost lets you schedule tasks to convert your backups to VMware Virtual Disk or Microsoft Virtual Disks.  This lets you boot into backups as virtual machines, for testing and evaluation purposes.

Built-in Virus Scanner

As I mentioned before, Ghost has an anti-virus scanner (and other tools) in the recovery environment.  This is useful if you want to restore only as a last resort.


Live chat is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Fill out an online form, and you’ll be connected to a support agent either by phone or chat.

I submitted a support request, and was first directed to the wrong department.  I was then transferred to the correct department.  I asked whether the software supported certain features.  However, the person actually gave me the wrong answers (and they support the software!).  Maybe I just got a bad support representative.  The total wait time was about 30 minutes.

Norton has a community forum, where other users can ask each other for help.  Most of the support topics were fairly active at the time of this review, and there were new threads posted every day.


The process for creating rescue media is too complicated.  You have to go to the Norton website, download the ISO, then either extract the ISO or burn it to a CD.  Your average home user shouldn’t have to go through all that.

Norton also needs to better screen their tech support, as mentioned above.

Product Name Norton Ghost
Version 15.0
License Shareware
Price $69.99
Operating Systems Window
Backup Types
Files and Folders yes
Full Disk Image yes
Incremental yes
Differential no
Backup Destinations
Hard Drive yes
Removable Media yes
Network Shares yes
Blu-ray yes
CD/DVD yes
FTP yes
Online Storage no
Compression yes
Encryption yes
Email Notifications yes
Error Handling yes
File Versioning yes
Priority Setting yes
Scheduling yes
Speed Limiting yes
Synchronization no

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of He enjoys attending music festivals, whitewater kayaking on the American River, and board game nights in his free time.

Geoff Akerlund