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Friday, April 24, 2009

Acronis True Image vs Symantec Ghost

Source (Review) [Excerpts]
A regular Ghost user tries out True Image V9 and concludes that Ghost V10 has met its match

Foreword from Gizmo
A drive imaging program is a utility that creates a backup snapshot or image of your disk drives, most commonly your system drive. Imaging programs differ from data backup programs in that they can backup the Windows Operating system itself. You can use that backup image to recover from system failures, spyware infections, installations gone wrong or any of the dozens of other things that can seriously mess up your PC.
Imaging programs can be used to backup data as well as your operating system but are not ideal for that task. Recent versions of imaging programs have improved in this area but many folks, myself included, prefer to use imaging programs to back up Windows and data backup programs like Genie, to backup regularly changing data.

Every PC I own has a drive imaging utility installed and I use these regularly to make image backups of the C: drives. I simply can't tell you just how many times I've been able to use these backup images to restore a non-working PC to perfect health. Restoring from an image only takes me minutes while a full Windows re-install can take many hours or even days when you take into account re-installing application programs. That's why I recommend the system drive of every PC should be imaged regularly using a reliable imaging program.
Now let me tell you the harsh truth: when it comes to the best imaging program it's a two horse race between the commercial products Acronis True Image and Norton Ghost with the freeware contenders trailing by a couple of miles. Not that there aren't some usable freeware products; it's just they aren't in the same league when it comes to function, features and reliability. Choosing between True Image and Ghost is tough because they are both quality programs. That's why I asked regular Support Alert contributor J.W. to review the latest versions of these products.
Acronis True Image vs. Norton Ghost
When Gizmo asked me to review Acronis True Image V9, I was delighted. I had been using Norton Ghost V9 and wasn't happy with the product due to on-going problems with corrupted images. Additionally I had never used True Image so the review provided me with an opportunity to look at the how Ghost compared to its main competitor in a live system, doing real work.
Installation Woes
Life was not meant to be easy.
Right from the start I had problems with both Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image on my PC. The problems as it turned out were partly caused by Process Guard, a security application that runs on my PC. However this problem proved to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to test out the support provided by Symantec and Acronis. Symantec support for Ghost was abysmal; an odyssey of condescending replies, canned responses and the apparent inability of the Indian support staff to understand the English language. Eventually, I wrote a personal letter to the Chairman & CEO of Symantec, John W. Thompson, asking for his help and assistance. My plea worked and I was put in contact with an “Executive Support” group. They seemed much more anxious to help and started off well by sending me the latest version of Ghost 10. I was optimistic that with the receipt this new version that the problems I had been experiencing with corrupted Ghost image backups would disappear. Sadly, that was not to be. Even with the latest V10 release I had more invalid backup’s, completely baffling the “Executive Support” group. After a number of emails back and forth, they adamantly pronounce that not one but BOTH of my U320 SCSI hard drives were broken and needed to be immediately replaced! After expressing my incredulity with this diagnosis, they decided to try blaming the problem on my CPU processor. Anything it seemed other than their product. Their last email to me was pure bathos:
“Do not bother responding to this email as there is nothing else I can help you with and it will not be responded to.”
So much for Symantec "executive" level support. I was clearly on my own. The experience with Acronis support was much better. Their support team was also baffled, but at least they maintained their composure, didn’t make any nonsensical recommendations such as replacing my hard drives and were civil. Eventually I solved the problem myself; another application, Process Guard, was interfering with the operation of the programs. Once Process Guard was uninstalled, the immediate difficulties were resolved allowing me to move forward with my comparative review. But a vital lesson about support was learned and not to be forgotten. Furthermore some serious problems with Ghost remained.
Corrupted Images
Even after removing Process Guard from my PC, I continued to have on-going problems with Ghost V10 with corrupted image files.
My recommendation and personal choice going forward for a disk-imaging program is Acronis True Image.

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