Monday, March 30, 2009

Free after rebate software : Norton Ghost 14.0

This is the next one in a series of articles on programs that are more trouble than they are worth, even if they are free !

Norton Ghost 14.0 is another program that I acquired last year from Fry's for a vile sum.

This is disk imaging software, which is one way you can do full system backups. I thought it was very attractive. And the box advertised support for Windows Vista.

And perhaps it does, on Vista 32 bits, but the software is useless on Vista 64 bits. Sure, it actually lets you backup your data and your OS. But there is no way to restore your OS if it's 64 bits ! The recovery CD only works for Vista 32 bits. And forget it if you have any dynamic disks - spanned or striped volumes, features available only in the higher editions of Vista, such as Enterprise and Ultimate. If you never tried to restore your backup, you might think you are covered. Not so. Fortunately, I tried it long before I needed it, and discovered what can only be called a design problem. Norton should state clearly that this software is only useful on Vista 32 bits. Write-only backups are not exactly useful. If you are using Vista 64 bit, or Vista Ultimate, or Vista Enterprise, or a combination of either, you will be out of luck. This is a really important disclosure that Symantec did not make prior to selling their product. Shame on them. This should be a much bigger issue than the one about computer makers selling underpowered computers with Vista logos. Norton's software only works if you run the lower-end editions of Vista, ie. 32 bits, Basic, or Home. It's not for anyone serious about backing up their data.
One year after my purchase, there is still no Ghost update to fix these design issues. I'm sure Norton would like to charge for that, too.

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