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Norton Ghost 14 Agent

I run Norton Ghost on Windows XP Home SP3.

PROBLEM:  Sometimes an incremental backup fails because, according to the error window, Ghost cannot connect to its Agent. However, the system tray Ghost icon shows the green check mark, and Services shows the Agent is running.

DETAIL:  I have Ghost 14 programmed to (1) defrag my C and E hard disk drives (using Windows' DEFRAG.EXE), (2) run an incremental backup of both disks, then (3) shut down the computer (using Windows' SHUTDOWN.EXE). Then I go to bed with Ghost running.

Usually this works fine, but sometimes the computer is still running the next morning. Ghost says it could not connect to its Agent. I check Services, which shows the agent is "Started." I check Ghost Status, and it shows with the red X that the backup did not run.

Any suggestions?

PS: Could the problem be related to this:

I save my backup files on an external hard drive plugged into a USB 2 jack. To disconnect this drive, I must (1) stop Ghost Agent in Services, (2) disconnect the drive, then (3) restart Agent. If I don't follow this procedure, Windows says some program is still using the drive and I cannot "safely" disconnect it.