When was the last time you backed up the hard drive of your notebook or PC? It’s a question worth asking yourself because if the answer is “never” then what happens if the system fails? You lose everything. With the price of external storage dropping at an amazing rate and it’s now possible to get 500GB of extra space for less than £100. So there is no better time than right now to get in to the habit.

There are plenty of backup tools on offer that simply transfer your files to a hard drive but if you want to be completely backed-up you’ll need to copy your entire system – programs, drivers, even favourite settings – to one file called an image.

The interface of Ghost 14 has been updated and while the main page looks clear and concise, once you get deeper into the package things aren’t quite as simple. You’ll need to spend a little time with the manual and the software to get the most from it, as we found some of the tools hidden away. In truth, we still prefer the simplicity of Acronis True Image for it’s ease-of-use, which certainly feels a lot easier to use than this latest version of Ghost.

We tested the software out on an Asus F5 notebook running Windows Vista and found it worked exceedingly smoothly. It’s worth bearing in mind that Symantec has stripped support for this product back, so it now only works with Windows XP and Vista, so if you have earlier versions it simply won’t work.

Thankfully, the core functions of the software haven’t changed and we found it easy enough to create backup points and install them back onto our test machine. Naturally, times vary depending on the size of your HDD and how it’s configured. However, once you’ve made a primary image, this time is slashed as in future the backup only needs to make an incremental backup, scanning for changes and only uploading those that have done so.

There are a number of new features included in this version that expand the usability of Ghost. For instance, if you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, or use remote backup to a FTP site, you’ll now find full support in this edition, which means backing-up away from your primary machine is now easier than ever.

Then there is Symantec ThreatCon, which can trigger a backup to begin when it is informed from Symantec’s database that a malware attack has taken place.

Price when reviewed:

Norton Ghost 14 takes many of the features in the previous version and builds on them. If you only have a sole PC, there is little here to tempt you to upgrade. However, if you’re setting up a small network at home, the new features do add to the overall package and make it worth considering.