Imaging Principle #1
First thing you need to know about using Ghost (or *any* cloning software, for that matter) is .. your back-up images (now called Recovery Points) should be stored on a different hard drive from the image's source.
Ghost will let you create your back-up images on the same hard drive as the source. But this is risky. If you store your back-up image on the *same* (physical) hard drive, and that drive dies (or is unusable, for any reason), your back-up image dies with it.
Allow me to translate the implications into plain English » You're screwed.
Make sense? This is an important principle, which you need to grasp before moving on. Our primary aim is to create reliable images and protect their integrity by storing them somewhere other than on their source drive.
Normally we back up our system drive (where Windows resides), and point our image destination to a second (physically separate hard drive).
If you have a desktop box, with only one (physical) hard dive (typically labeled 'C' drive), I suggest you purchase another. I prefer Seagate drives myself, finding them quieter and more reliable than others. But *any* drive can fail at any time.
You can also *burn* images .. to DVD .. but that tends to go rather slowly. Most people who burn their images, prefer rather to create the image, initially, on another hard drive, and later transfer it (burn) to DVD.
You can also create your images on an external drive. This is what I do (image to a 500-gig USB drive). This is not as fast as imaging to a physically separate internal drive (typically SATA), which represents the Holy Grail of imaging speed, but imaging to an external drive proceeds at an acceptable rate.
I have not tried imaging to an external eSATA drive, but I would think this interface is nearly as fast as an internal drive. Can somebody confirm this?
And if you have a laptop (like me), an external drive (USB 2.0) represents your best option (better than imaging to a DVD, and *far* better than storing the back-up image on the same hard drive).