Configuring Windows NT, Windows 98, and Win95 to be just right on the same computer takes some fiddling. And you might not want to revisit this process if you decide to reinstall the computer's OS. If you're also trying to be a software minimalist like me (maybe we've invented a new Zen or ZAW discipline), but you're still installing a host of programs, service packs, and drivers, you need a quick way to back up and restore an entire drive.

Notebooks especially, with their oddball CD-ROM and NIC drivers, require an easy way to back up and restore. That's why I chose Symantec's Norton Ghost as one of my software favorites.

Norton Ghost is a hard disk copying program called an image disk copier. Norton Ghost takes a snapshot of your disk and then copies that image to a network drive or perhaps a Jaz cartridge. Whenever you want to restore your hard disk to its known good state, you use Norton Ghost to zap all the hard disk's contents and restore the saved image.

I've used Norton Ghost 3.0 and 4.0 for the past few years. The product particularly impresses me with its ability to quickly zip up a logical drive or entire disk and blast it out to virtually anything I can put a drive letter on. After I configure a new computer to just the way I want it, I add a new first step to my routine. I create a disk with just enough code to get me to my servers, run Norton Ghost, and restore that computer's configuration.

This method has often given me back days of time that I otherwise would spend configuring and reconfiguring a troubled computer. Norton Ghost is not a 32-bit application strictly speaking, but this software simplifies running 32-bit applications on a computer.

Norton Ghost
Contact: Symantec * 888-446-7898
Web: http://www.symantec.com