Norton Ghost, meet Backup Exec. Backup Exec, meet Ghost. That's right: Symantec's Backup Exec System Recovery 2010 Desktop Version (BESR for short) is a Windows disk imaging product based on Norton Ghost.
But BESR 2010 is also a substantially improved version that offers a compelling new feature as well finally addressing our longstanding and deal-breaking complaint about Symantec's imaging products: their inability to back up using the boot disc.
The compelling new feature of which we speak is the ability to convert BESR 2010 backup images to the VMWare .vmdk, Microsoft .vhd, and VMWare ESX server formats.
If your system hardware goes belly up, you can mount these in a virtual machine on another PC and continue working. This is probably handiest for servers, but the server edition of Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery that also allows per-user restore of Exchange and Active Directory data is too expensive for many small businesses.
Now to that boot disc. Say your friend brings you a PC that's still hardware-functional but won't boot into Windows. Prudence suggests you should create a backup image before you try to fix or reinstall the operating system. Previously, Ghost and Save & Restore boot discs lacked that ability - you could only restore an image, or copy files off individually using a file browser, leaving a chance that you might overlook something.
Finally, Symantec has seen the light (or the drop in sales), and Backup Exec System Recovery allows you to image from the boot disc, albeit after entering your serial number each time.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>