How To Create A Bootable Ghost Rescue CD Tutorial

Note: The here mentioned instructions only apply to Norton/Symantec Ghost up to version 2003 or 8. The later versions 9 and 10 are completely different programs which cannot be used for this tutorial. If you are using version 9 or later, try to get your hands on an earlier version (preferable 2003 or 8.x) because these are much better in my opinion.

This tutorial does not cover the creation of a Ghost image. Norton Ghost's manual is excellent so it shouldn't be much of a problem. A few tips though: launch Ghost in full DOS mode (not a DOS window) with following command line:

ghost.exe -split=640 -autoname

Or for Ghost 6.5 and later:

ghost.exe -split=640 -auto

The -split=640 parameter will split up images in parts when the size exceeds 640 MB. This way you get multiple 640 MB images which all fit on a CD-R disc. Use High compression when Ghost asks for it. This will make the images about 1/3th smaller.

A good Ghost tutorial can be found at - .

Once the image is created you can write it to CD and use a bootdisk to restore it when needed... But it can also a lot more professional. What about a CD that boots itself and restores the Ghost image after a single click on the Yes button or even 100% automated.

This isn't very hard to do. All you need is a bootdisk which can boot your computer with CD-ROM support. Edit the AUTOEXEC.BAT so it will launch Ghost and restore the wanted image. Programs like Nero and WinOnCD use this floppy to create a boot image for the bootable CD. But this isn't perfect... Assume that your CD-ROM is D:. What if you buy another harddisk? The partitions on this disk will make the CD-ROM's drive letter move further down the alphabet. You could fix that by assigning Z: as your CD-ROM, but most readers of this page have at least 2 CD-ROMs in their computer (a CD-ROM and a writer) thus the rescue CD would only work in one of both CD-ROMs.

How can it be done than? "Something" needs to check the CD-ROM stations to see in which station the rescue CD is. This sounds easier than it is. Analyzing the bootable Win 98 CD I noticed that the little program FINDCD.EXE returns the CD drive where the Win 98 disc is put in. I reverse-engineered it to make it work with my own bootable CDs and that became DETECTCD.EXE...

Creating the boot image

After this small introduction it's time for the real work. You'll need to download the boot image: (1.593 kB)

New: In the above archive is now also a file called bootimage.ima. You can open and edit it with a program like WinImage. This way you don't need a floppy drive. This may come in handy for people using a computer without a floppy drive.

While the download is busy get yourself a 1.44 MB floppy. You don't need to format it. When the download is done, just run bootdisk.exe.

Insert the floppy and click "OK".

Unless you still need the data on the floppy press "Yes" to continue.

Please wait while the disk is being formatted and written to. After this completed you have a bootdisk. In Explorer its contents should be:



Some files like (IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS) may be hidden and thus invisible for you in explorer.

By default this disk is able to boot with support for all standard IDE CD-ROMs (I haven't found one yet that doesn't work) and most of Adaptec's SCSI controllers (and all attached CD-ROMs). Other SCSI cards like the Diamond FirePort series, Tekram series,... are not supported and will need manual editing of the bootdisk.

Start Windows Notepad and open the file CONFIG.SYS

menuitem=SUCD, Boot computer with support for CD-ROM.
menuitem=NOCD, Boot computer without support for CD-ROM.
menuitem=GHOST, Restore partition/drive with Ghost.

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device=oakcdrom.sys /D:cdrom001
device=btcdrom.sys /D:cdrom001
device=aspicd.sys /D:cdrom001

device=himem.sys /testmem:off

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device=oakcdrom.sys /D:cdrom001 
device=btcdrom.sys /D:cdrom001
device=aspicd.sys /D:cdrom001

device=display.sys con=(ega,,1)
country=001,437,country.sys con cp prepare=((437) ega.cpi) con cp select=437 us,,keyboard.sys

Let's look at some important lines in this file:

device=oakcdrom.sys /D:cdrom001

This is the default IDE CD-ROM driver.

device=aspicd.sys /D:cdrom001

The first 4 lines load various Adaptec SCSI card drivers (including the 29xx series) and the last line is the generic Adaptec SCSI CD-ROM driver which works with all standard SCSI CD-ROM drives.

If you have a non Adaptec SCSI controller you will have to download the manufacturer's DOS drivers for that card and edit the CONFIG.SYS. You can delete following files on the bootdisk to free space for the new drivers.


The 5 lines in the CONFIG.SYS which load the Adaptec SCSI drivers can be replaced by following 2 lines:

device=yyyyy.sys /D:cdrom001

Where xxxxx.sys is the SCSI card driver and yyyyy.sys the CD-ROM driver from your SCSI card's manufacturer. Don't forget to copy the drivers to the floppy disk too!

At the end of the CONFIG.SYS you'll notice following lines:

country=001,437,country.sys con cp prepare=((
437) ega.cpi) con cp select=

If you live in the US or are used to a US keyboard don't change these lines: It are regional settings. If you need another keyboard layout use the table below and change the codes in the CONFIG.SYS to reflect your regional settings.

Country/Language Country Code Keyboard Code Character set
Croatian/Serbian/Slovene 038 yu 852
Czech 042 cz 852
Danish 045 dk 850
Dutch (Belgium) 032 be 850
Dutch (The Netherlands) 031 nl 850
English (UK) 044 uk 437
English (US) 001 us 437
Finnish 358 su 850
French (Belgium) 032 be 850
French (Canada) 002 cf 863
French (France) 033 fr 850
French (Swiss) 041 sf 850
German (Germany) 049 gr 850
German (Swiss) 041 sg 850
Hungarian 036 hu 852
International English 062 + 437
Italian 039 it 850
Norwegian 047 no 850
Polish 048 pl 852
Portuguese (Brazil) 055 br 850
Portuguese (Portugal) 351 po 850
Slovak 042 sl 852
Spanish (Latin America) 003 la 850
Spanish (Spain) 034 sp 850
Swedish 046 sv 437

When all that is done, the bootdisk should be ready. Before making an image of it, test the disk! Reboot the computer with the bootdisk in the floppy drive. Make sure you have set the boot order in you BIOS so that it will boot from floppy. Boot order A:, C: or something like that will do the trick.
A boot menu will show up, choose "Boot computer with support for CD-ROM.". If everything goes right you should get following error message "DetectCD was unable to determine the CD-ROM drive letter.". Don't panic, that's normal... After all the correct detectable CD (the Ghost rescue CD) isn't even burnt yet :)

The point is that you don't get any other error messages. Check if the CD-ROM is working correctly. If you have multiple CD-ROM devices or writers, make sure you can read CDs from all drives! It would be stupid to burn a bootable CD and find out that it doesn't work because of wrong drivers or a type mismatch. If you get error messages you will have to fix these first.


Now we have a working bootdisk it's time to figure out the correct settings to make Ghost restore the image. Download GHOST.BAT: (1 kB)

Extract the zip file to a temporary folder. Start Notepad and open the just extracted GHOST.BAT. It looks like:


What exactly does this line do? -clone,MODE=pload, sets Ghost in restore partition mode. SRC=%CDROM%\IMAGE.GHO:1, points to the location of the image on the CD-ROM. Do NOT remove or change %CDROM%. If the image is called "BACKUP.GHO" and it's placed in the /IMAGES folder on the CD it would look like SRC=%CDROM%\IMAGES\BACKUP.GHO. The :1 means partition 1 from the image file. Image files can contain multiple partitions. DST=1:1 means harddisk 1, partition 1. In other words, C:.

Thus the above line starts ghost and restores the ghosted partition IMAGE.GHO located in the root of the CD-ROM, to the C: after clicking "Yes". You can even go a step further and use

GHOST.EXE -clone,MODE=pload,SRC=%CDROM%\IMAGE.GHO:1,DST=1:1 -sure

Now Ghost supresses the "Are you sure you want to continue" message and restores fully automatic. Note that this does not work for the personal edition of Ghost (ghostpe.exe).

For more detailed command line parameters see Appendix A of the Ghost manual.

Double check the line to make sure it contains no errors. After it's burnt to CD there's no way of editing it anymore. Save the file.

Burning the Bootable Ghost Rescue CD

I'll use Nero here to explain what to do because it's about the most used software, but it's very similar with other CD-R software. Launch Nero and choose "CD-ROM (Boot)" from the "New Compilation" window. If Nero starts with the Wizard, close the Wizard and choose "New..." from the "File" menu.

On the "Boot" tab select "Bootable logical drive (must fit on the CD)" under "Source of boot image data". In the drop down box select "A:\ 2 MB". Click the "New" button

Now drag & drop "GHOST.BAT", the Ghost executable "GHOST.EXE" (no other files are needed to make Ghost work) and the image itself, in the above example "IMAGE.GHO". If your image exists out of more images (due to the -split parameter), only put the first part on this CD and put the other parts on the next CDs (which don't need to be bootable). On restore Ghost will ask to insert the next CD.

Note that "GHOST.BAT" and "GHOST.EXE" MUST be in the root of the CD. Otherwise DETECTCD.EXE can not identify the CD. Make sure the Ghost executable is called "GHOST.EXE". If you have the Ghost Personal Edition your executable is called "GHOSTPE.EXE". You MUST rename the file to "GHOST.EXE".

Since this bootable Rescue CD is also usable as bootdisk (you can choose from 3 boot methods; "Boot computer with support for CD-ROM.", "Boot computer without support for CD-ROM." and "Restore partition/drive with Ghost.") you may want to add other files too, like tools you often use in DOS. By default following DOS tools are incuded on the bootdisk:

  • Attrib.exe
  • Chkdsk.exe
  • Debug.exe
  • Deltree.exe
  • Fdisk.exe
  • Label.exe
  • Scandisk.exe
  • Xcopy.exe
  • Xcopy32.exe

If you are satisfied with the contents of the CD it's time to burn... From the "File" menu choose "Write CD..."

Check the settings and hit "Write" when ready. Make sure the bootdisk is still in the floppy and a blank CD-R loader in the writer. It will take a while before the write actually starts because the bootdisk is read first.

And then Nero is burning the bootable Ghost Rescue CD! To use/test the CD make sure you set the boot order in your system's BIOS that the system will boot from CD-ROM if a bootable CD is found in one of the CD-ROM drives. Set it to "CDROM, C:" or whatever your BIOS supports for booting from CD-ROM... If you have a SCSI CD-ROM make sure your SCSI BIOS is set to boot from the CD-ROM (if it supports that feature) and possibly you must set the motherboard's BIOS to "SCSI, C:" or something similar.

That's it. If you followed all instructions correctly the bootable CD should work fine.

Special thanks to Susan (SUSAN813) for the English versions of the files and Howard (HWILLUK) for the mouse driver!


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