Norton Ghost 10 performed well in our informal tests. The backup software can create a complete image of your Windows system drive while working in the background. You never need to restart your system or interrupt what you're doing.
By default, the software creates a complete backup once a month and performs daily updates of the data that has changed. Though the complete backup can take up to several hours, we found the iterative updates much shorter. If the backups slow down your system too much, a handy slider lets you trade off speed for performance.
Norton Ghost 10's complete image backup is both its greatest strength and its greatest limitation. Unlike many backup solutions, Ghost provides no way to back up only specific folders or file types; it backs up complete drive partitions only--ouch. That means you can't perform a daily backup of work documents to a DVD-R drive, for instance. If you have a lot of media files on your drive partition, you could end up with large image files.
Though Ghost 10 compresses data, you still need a suitably large backup destination to get the most out of the program. Whether you use a local hard drive or a network resource, plan on dedicating more than half the size of the source disk to the compressed image. For instance, using standard compression, the backup image of our 30GB test disk required 20GB of backup space; this proportion will vary depending on the type of data you have stored on your PC.
Norton Ghost 10 comes with a detailed printed manual, which guides you through installation and, if things go wrong, recovery. (A product like this needs a printed manual, since in a real disaster you may not be able to boot your computer and access online help.) The software also includes a detailed help file.
Symantec offers free support via its Web site, including e-mail response to support questions and an extensive and helpful knowledge base. However, it charges $29.95 per incident for 24/7 phone tech support.