How-To: Image Windows XP with Ghost and Sysprep
Part 2: Norton Ghost Instructions
I’m using an older version of Ghost because the newer versions are trumped by Acronis True Image in terms of having less bugs and more features. However, DOS based Ghost has worked fine for me for most systems. If Ghost fails on your system for some reason, try imaging with Acronis True Image trial version. The basic idea is boot off a floopy or CD on the source system, start the backup program, backup the entire drive as an image file onto some other device (portable hard drive or another drive in the system) and then restoring (as necessary) from that image file onto a target system.
The basic Ghost process is as follows:
Note: You must do this on another machine that has Ghost installed. If you boot the Sysprep machine accidentally then you must go through the entire Sysprep checklist again. Trust me, I learned the hard way more than once.
- A Ghost bootdisk must be created for the target system. In Ghost 2003, start Ghost from the Start Menu -> Programs -> Norton Ghost.
- Click Ghost Utilities then click Norton Ghost Boot Wizard.
- A wizard comes up. Since I plan on saving my image to a portable USB or Firewire hard drive I pick Standard Ghost Boot Disk. You may have to choose another option if you plan on saving the image to a network Ghost image server.
- On the next screen, under External Storage Options click the check boxes for USB 2.0 Support or Firewire Support depending on your target backup device. If you are using an internal secondary hard drive, then you don’t need to pick anything.
- On the next screen, click Use PC-DOS.
- The next screen asks for the path of
ghost.exe. The default path is usually fine.
- Finally we are presented with a screen asking for the floppy disk drive letter and formating options. Pick the proper drive letter and leave the format options alone. Click next.
- This is the Review screen. Make sure all the options are correct and insert an empty floppy into your drive. A format dialog will pop up with a warning that everything on the floppy will be erased. Hit Okay. Close it once it is completed. Ghost will copy the files over.
- If you are using an external hard drive then make sure it is connected to the source machine prior to booting the Ghost floppy on the system. If you are using an internal hard drive (not the same one as the Sysprep’d drive) in the source system then make sure there is enough free space on it. Again, you cannot save the image onto the drive/partition you are imaging for obvious reasons.
- Put your shiny new floppy into the Sysprep prepared machine and boot off of it.
- Create the image following the on-screen directions.
- Click Local.
- Click Disk. I’ve assumed that we are imaging a single large NTFS partition encompassing the entire drive throughout this tutorial hence the need for either an external drive or different internal hard drive. This can all be done on a single drive with two paritions but I’ll leave for the end user to explore.
- Click To Image. The next screen states Select local source drive by clicking on the drive number. Make sure you select the drive that contains the Sysprep prepared XP deployment! Check and double check this. Click Ok.
- The next screen reads File name to copy image to. From the drop-down box pick either the external hard drive or internal drive (different from source drive) and then type a short name in the file name box.
- The next screen will ask compression options. I usually pick High.
- Ghost will image the drive on its own and alert you when it is done.
- If you are sure the image was created successfully, you can now move the image onto a burnable DVD, network share, leave it on the portable or secondary hard drive and restore it as necessary. If there was a problem during the imaging process, then do not boot the source system. Just reimage it after addressing whatever caused the image process to fail.
The steps above are a very quick summary so I recommend that anyone truly interested in doing this to head over to Vernalex’s site for an in-depth Sysprep Guide. Along with a lot more detail of the entire process, he has various tools to make everything a little easier. The best utility on his site has to be the Sysprep Driver Sanner tool. It makes the process of adding hardware drivers much easier than the manual process above. Instructions on using it are on his site.
This completes the imaging process. Part 3 has various updates/notes.