Creating Bootable Ghost Recovery USB Flash Drive

Those of you who follow my blog (or know me in person) are well aware that I’m a big fan of Norton Ghost backup software.

One of the major problems I’ve had with Norton Ghost is the fact that it only provides the ability to create a recovery CD … it doesn’t provide any ability to install the recovery software on a USB flash drive.   USB flash drives are much faster that CD’s and are read/write, so they can be updated at a later date.

After a bit of digging, I’ve figured out how to create one without too much trouble.

The first thing that we need to do is create a bootable flash drive.

I found a very good, and simple, set of instructions to create a Windows Vista / 7 bootable flash drive on Kevin’s Blog.  I used these instructions to transfer Windows 7 to a flash drive when I installed it on my laptop.

The following is an amalgamation of Kevin’s instructions and my adaptation to create the Norton Ghost Recovery flash drive. …

Required:

  • USB Flash Drive (512mb or larger, 1gb to be on the safe side)
  • Installed Norton Ghost (this has been tested with version 15, but it should work with 14 also)
  • A computer running Vista or Windows 7

Step 1: Format the Drive

The steps here are to use the command line to format the disk properly using the diskpart utility. [Be warned: this will erase everything on your drive. Be careful.]

  1. Plug in your USB Flash Drive
  2. Open a command prompt as administrator (Right click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator”.
  3. Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:
    diskpart
    list disk

    The number of your USB drive will listed. You’ll need this for the next step.  I’ll assume that the USB flash drive is disk 1.
  4. Format the drive by typing the next instructions into the same window. Replace the number ‘1’ with the number of your disk below.
    select disk 1
    clean
    create partition primary
    select partition 1
    active
    format fs=NTFS
    assign
    exit
    When that is done you’ll have a formatted USB flash drive ready to be made bootable.

Step 2: Make the Drive Bootable (this is where we start deviating from Kevin’s instructions)

Next we’ll use the bootsect utility that comes with Norton Ghost to make the flash drive bootable.  In the same command window that you were using in Step 1:

  1. Change to the ‘agent’ directory in the Norton Ghost install directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Norton Ghost\Agent by default):
    cd “C:\Program Files (x86)\Norton Ghost\Agent”
  2. Use the bootsect program to set the USB as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Ghost 15. I’m assuming that your USB flash drive has been labeled disk G:\ by the computer:
    bootsect /nt60 g:
  3. You can now close the command prompt window, we’re done here.

Step 3: Create a Norton Ghost Recovery CD

Follow the instructions included with Norton Ghost to create a recovery CD.  Be sure you remove any unusable drivers from the recovery CD (this is usually only needed when you are running the 64bit version of Windows).

Alternatively, you can create an ISO image of the recovery CD (without actually burning a CD) … I’ll explain what you do in this case next.

Regardless of how you create the recovery CD, I suggest you set the serial number, timezone, and networking services appropriately (saves time when you are actually recovering a machine and, I think, it activates services that might not be available otherwise).

Step 4: Copy the Norton Ghost Recovery CD contents to the flash drive

After you’ve created the recovery CD, you’ll need to re-insert the CD and copy the contents to the flash drive.

If you created the ISO image instead of burning an actual CD, you can use a “ISO Mounter” program to mount the ISO image as a drive on your computer and copy the contents of the ISO to the flash drive.  I’ve found SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive to be a very useful utility to do this.  It’s free and easy to use.

Step 5: Test the Norton Ghost Recovery Flash Drive

Obviously you need to test the flash drive to ensure it works.

To do this, you’ll need to reboot your machine and hit whatever key is necessary to activate the boot drive selection option in BIOS (on Dell machine’s it’s usually F12, other machines might be ESC.  Check your computer manual or simply watch the BIOS screen when the system boots up).

You should find that the flash drive boots into a special version of Windows Vista and launches into Norton Ghost’s recovery mode.

Theoretically, you should be able to add other utilities to this flash drive that can be run inside the recovery environment.

7 thoughts on “Creating Bootable Ghost Recovery USB Flash Drive

  1. Warren

    For many days I’ve been trying to find out how to make a bootable USB ghost disk using Ghost 15. After searching many confusing questions and blogs, I found this page. I followed your instructions and it worked perfectly, the first time.

    The only hiccup I had was actually creating the Norton Ghost recovery CD. Norton wanted its source CD to begin the process, and then it tried to burn the recovery disk to it. When prompted that it needed a BLANK disk, I provided one, but then it froze. Next attempt, I tried to swap the disks at a point between reading the source and burning the recovery CD, another fail. Finally I just created an iso image only, then burned from that.

    After so many attempts and false leads, I was not optimistic when I tried your method, but I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks a bundle!

    Reply
  2. Smith

    Hello.

    Tried this method and it didnt work on my particular machine (HP DC7800)
    It just hangs after loading windows files, could this relate to some driver issue.. in wich case wich?

    I tried it on my laptop and it worked fine though, just wondered if anyone else have had the same problem as above.

    Thanks

    Reply
  3. david Post author

    It just hangs after loading windows files, could this relate to some driver issue.. in wich case wich?

    It could be a driver, although it’s hard to tell without more detailed information … unfortunately, I’m not sure how to get the information. I think you would need to boot the recovery media in safe mode, which might show you which driver it’s hanging on.

    Reply
  4. David

    The only hiccup I had was actually creating the Norton Ghost recovery CD. Norton wanted its source CD to begin the process, and then it tried to burn the recovery disk to it. When prompted that it needed a BLANK disk, I provided one, but then it froze. Instead of using a CD I used a DVD and it worked perfectly. If anyone has trouble buring a backup disk try this.

    Reply
  5. TayseerAWahid

    thank you very much …. it is really really helped me to solve my problem .
    thanks a lot again

    Reply

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