I have in the past always used Norton Ghost 2003 for DOS and it has worked without fail for all of the time I have used it. It has been one of the most reliable programs I have ever purchased and is still very fast and works great on booting disk outside of Windows environment.
But with transitioning to Windows 7 on many machines and introduction of many new devices, SSD and USB based thumb drive, etc. I am force too seek more up-to-date solution.
I would ask for helpful advice on which programs might be best for me to use.
I have used Acronis True Image in the past, and it work ok but not as efficient as Norton Ghost 2003 for DOS, but the program gets larger and larger over years and they push the Plus Pack pretty hard, so in order to get full function you mostly need purchase both the main program and the plus pack.
So Acronis cost more and is getting jammed with many features I do not wish to have to use or even pay for. In addition I have reliability problem with my versions (not upgrade to 2012 yet) and Windows 7 Professional 64 bit and Home Premium 64 bit.
My choice is to upgrade to 2012 and pay extra for plus pack for each machine or seek alternatives.
I have been testing O&O Drive Image Professional 5.6.18 (received free from person I know who got full versions in a giveaway) and have made a boot CD and run it through scenarios only to have mixed results.
Typical tests involve archiving image of boot HD then removing boot HD and replacing with other boot HD of different size that has plenty of space available to be restored to, some machine IDE, some SATA.
Also after creating image, sometimes boot HD has change of partitions, sometimes making boot partition some smaller but still big enough and splitting reclaimed space to second or even third partition into that drive.
I take 500 GB IDE drive with 1 large NTFS partition, change to 300 GB with second partition at 200 GB, or second and third at 100 GB each, for example.
Or I take out IDE with intent to restore to 1 TB SATA drive to boot.
With Norton Ghost 2003 for DOS, that actually still does work, if I boot to floppy or CD and point imaging files to a FAT32 partition with enough space on it for the multiple 2 GB split image files. If I wish to use USB thumb drive or external USB or eSATA drive, Ghost 2003 for DOS does not properly see them so cannot be used.
Acronis does not work properly under Windows 7 level OS but works ok but less flexibly on Windows XP systems. Though it is not as forgiving on drive and partition changes, it work on most scenarios that are the more typical one. Like taking IDE or SATA drive out and replacing with one of same size or larger and only same number of partitions.
I would prefer a straight-forward product that allows me to create boot disk (almost always CD/DVD for now) and execute a complete image from outside of Windows to ensure all files are closed and able to be fully captured in their frozen state and then restored later from same boot media.
I would like program that can save imaging files to external USB device such as thumb drive or USB 2/3 drive for later accessing.
In testing, O&O Drive Image 5.6.18 Professional has a good interface and makes process fairly simple. It will ask you questions when it encounters anomalies like to say "Imaged drive was bootable. Would you like to make target drive bootable as well?" and "Target drive is smaller but does have sufficient room. Would you like to perform a file restore instead of a sector restore?"
This is good to have and would seem on surface good solution. But in some situations, such as wiping disk from Linux install and seeking to make it Windows 7 bootable, strange result can occur. Recycle bin corrupt message, missing Quick Launch on taskbar, Computer Management shortcut on Start Menu not properly pointing to the program file, etc.
If I stick to basic (image to other drive, wipe out boot drive, restore image to same boot drive) it works fine. But complex scenario seem to confuse it.
If you might have some helpful information and comment and advice, I would welcome it.
Thank you for helping.