Best Way to Try Software & Return System?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by chinook9, Dec 8, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. chinook9

    chinook9 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Posts:
    439
    Like many on this forum I like to try a variety of free/inexpensive software and then discard that which doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe a virtual system will work for me because I want to try it on my complete system so I can see how it works for me in everyday use.

    I have read about using First Defense-ISR, or EasFix but these are not free….or even cheap for that matter.

    I could do a registry save with ERUNT, do an install/uninstall with Zsoft Uninstaller, then restore the registry with ERNDT but I’m not sure how well this would work.

    My question is what is the easiest, safest, and cheapest way to do this? What do you folks do?
     
  2. Fajo

    Fajo Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Posts:
    1,812
    If you have Windows 7, You could simply use the built in Imaging program that comes with it and just image back when your done messing around. If not there is many free Imaging programs that will allow you to Image back before the install. Its prob the best and safest way to do it.
     
  3. NOTN

    NOTN Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Posts:
    1
    Comodo Time Machine works for me without problems. It's fast, easy, and best of all free. It works much like the EAZ-FIX program you mentioned.
     
  4. ViVek

    ViVek Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Posts:
    550
    Location:
    Moon
    for that im using Comodo Time Machine
     
  5. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    Comodo Time Machine works, but don't try it if you are not ready to restore back to where you were before you installed it. I used it for awhile, and while it was OK, it was just not what I was looking for.

    I do what you want to do, install into real system, and then restore back to my normal state. I use Macrium Reflect Free to do my images. I use the plugin for BartPE when restoring. I have baseline images on secondary harddrives. My images do not include large programs like games. I place anything large onto a secondary harddrive (install it there or modify the registry to point there and move it). In this fashion my images are only 3.5 gb (compressed, actual about 9gb).

    What I do is restore my image, takes about 4 minutes total, then install some new programs/settings. Try it out for an hour, a day, a week, a month. When I am done, I archive the new programs/settings I liked onto secondary drive, then restore my image. Once my image is fresh again, I will install the new/updated program/setting, then directly make another image. Now all future images are restored to the latest image.

    I have a lot of space, so I have at any one time a dozen images of different states. My imaging takes about 3 minutes to create (because it is small without large programs). I am vigilant to save things to any drive but C: so that my image restoration does not 'delete' things I have collected since I put the image on.

    I don't use a firewall or AV anymore. I do use VM to test things, or Sandboxie. If I need to, becuase sometimes you must, I install into my real system. If I don't like it, I restore one of my images. It has become a pain-free and fast method, without any of the possible drawbacks of the 'freezing' methods.

    It is not for everyone, and that is how it should be. I am just sharing what I found to be the best solution for myself after a long time of trying many different methods.

    Sul.
     
  6. Fajo

    Fajo Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Posts:
    1,812
    You realize that is just absolute hell on a hard drive right. Imaging and restoring all the time. :D
     
  7. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Posts:
    1,988
    Location:
    iAnywhere
    How about:
    1. Virtual Box
    For Windows,
    2. Virtual PC.
    3 a. VMWare Player is free
    3 b. VMWare Converter is free.

    VMWare Converter will take a snapshot of your current desktop. Then run that snap shot inside VMWare player. Is an exact copy of the real system.

    Currently, VMware Converter is only supported to convert Windows systems from physical to virtual.
    http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/get.html
    VMWare Player
    http://www.vmware.com/products/player/
     
  8. wat0114

    wat0114 Guest

    The restore from image is probably my favorite method, but the vm is a very close second choice, because even though the vm's environment might not mirror my production system, it still affords me the test platform to at least see what the application does and how it performs with its various functions, so I'll have at minimum a reasonable idea whether I'll want to keep it or not.

    For image/restore either the Windows 7 functionality or Macrium Reflect, and likely a few others should serve well as free options.

    Sun's VirtualBox is an excellent free vm option (though I know the OP doesn't relish this idea).
     
  9. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    LOL, I don't know if you are being serious or not :blink:

    Sul.
     
  10. Fajo

    Fajo Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Posts:
    1,812
    In all seriousness yes it is hell on your Hard Drive. Then again they cost $60 so who the heck cares ? :cool:
     
  11. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    I am always open to hear new things. Please, do tell, as I cannot imagine data being written or read is any different in form A vs. form B.

    Sul.
     
  12. Fajo

    Fajo Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Posts:
    1,812
    Writing large amounts of data to a hard drive will eventually ware the heads out. Over time just more use of the hard drive just means it will die quicker. I have had my backup Drive now for 6 years. And I have had at least 3 WDigital Drives Sense then due to head or platter failure.

    God I love Wester Digitals RMA. Blow it up in 5 years return it get a new one. :p
     
  13. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    Ok, umm, please don't take this the wrong way. You do realize though that the swap file is reading/writing all the time don't you? That you are constantly in a state of raising the bit flag to 0 or 1. I mean, I understand in simplistic terms that heavier use can and does wear mechanical devices prematurely vs. regular wear.

    But I don't know if raising the bits on the surface of the drive an extra 100 times is going to cause sectors to go bad. You do raise one point though, even if you don't mean to, and that is with imaging you don't get a chance to do a full format, which maps the sectors and marks ones it finds that should not be used.

    Still, I don't think that is correct, but I always am ready to learn more than I do. So if you have some good read somewhere or something I would love to learn more.

    Sul.
     
  14. Fajo

    Fajo Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Posts:
    1,812
    It's not the Sectors I'm Worried about its the Heads time selfs the whole assembly. As for the page file It honesty don't hit that hard drive like it used to. In the world of 4gigs of memory + some people just shut the darn thing off.

    I got some interesting reads on it Ill pass them along when I get to work tomorrow.
     
  15. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    Cool. I look forward to it.

    Sul.
     
  16. chinook9

    chinook9 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Posts:
    439
    Thank you for your input.

    I back up using Macrium Free but, as mentioned, I am a little concerned about putting all that wear on the hard drives.

    I am still a little scared of Comodo Time Machine at this time because it is so new, and some people have had some serious problems with it, but I am intrigued by the VMWare possibilities.

    I will do some research on VMware to see how safe it is. I have 8-10 more times hard drive space than I am using so that should not be a problem. I'll also see if I can clean up (reduce) my system so that its no quite so big to set up in a virtual environment.

    Thanks again.

    I will still check back to this thread to see if anyone has additional ideas.
     
  17. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Posts:
    4,215
    I personally use System Restore in XP and Vista, after uninstalling normally the software (I used to clean the registry in the past as well, but I don't do that anymore).

    If the system 'feels' compromised or strange, I'll restore an image. Yesterday for example my system restore on Vista got stuck for some unknown reasons, a restore quickly solved the problem. Like Sully I keep important data on separate hard drives (usually USB HDs).

    I forgot if the software doesn't require rebooting, I sometimes use Shadow Defender, but you don't believe in virtual systems.

    There's also windows's own free possibility, Windows SteadyState:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx
     
  18. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2003
    Posts:
    17,041
    On this drive wear thing, I am a bit skeptical, but also open. Remember the heads themselves make no physical contact with the platter.

    So it's the head assembly bouncing around that is more subject to wear. I help myself on that front with the main c: drive only being about 5% full, and everything kept near the edge of the platter.

    I actually think the real culprit is heat. On my desktops, the 3 internal drives are in a 5 drive cage with an empty slot between each drive. The drives are mounted vertically and sit right smack in front of the fresh are intake fan. So they are constantly bathed with cool air. The fan input is covered by a door with a signature cutout, but the door can be opened if there is going to be high drive usage. These machines at times get high disk usage with nary a problem.

    On the other hand I also use a couple external USB drives(no not regular drives with my housings) and these drives aren't nearly as well ventilated. After 2 years they are on my distrust list, and I usually replace them.

    Pete
     
  19. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Posts:
    3,719
    @Pete, you think like I do. I have hdds for years, and they have shown no sign at all of issues. I also think 3 years of a heavily used drive is not to be trusted. And I totally agree with the heat remarks. I do the same thing as you, I have a cage with space between drives. I picked up some beastly 80mm fans (deltas) that are freaking loud as crap. They are 3pin, but luckily I have 2 headiers on my mobo that can control them. The rest of the fans are PWM in the case, so I chained them together (homeade wiring job) so that the one PWM signal controls all 4 fans, but each have dedicated power from PSU not mobo headers.

    I use SpeedFan to ramp up fans when many things, including hdds, get above where I want them, which is normally 40deg c. I can keep them at 35c, but that is just a bit too loud for me.

    Sul.
     
  20. wat0114

    wat0114 Guest

    I've bombarded my few h/drives over the years with image restores because I love to experiment all the time and if something goes wrong or I just want torevert to a previous "clean" state, I don't hesitate to restore an earlier image. IMO based on what I've seen this has not caused premature wearout on my h/drives.
     
  21. chinook9

    chinook9 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Posts:
    439
    As an initial effort I am setting up a virtual environment with the free WMWare Player 3.0. I have successfully installed VMWare Player and I have set up my first "Guest Machine" with Windows XP loaded. I did not anticipate that I would have to "activate" XP but if I can't find an alternative I will go ahead and do this. Mine is an old legal copy but I have already installed it on 4-5 different times so I don't know if activation becomes more difficult.

    If success continues I may try to replicate my whole active system with the VMWare Converter software.
     
  22. tobacco

    tobacco Frequent Poster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Posts:
    1,497
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Just tried that and my system locked up requiring a hard reset. So this function obviously is for testing your current setup on a secondary machine.
     
  23. ParaV

    ParaV Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Posts:
    7
    I prefer DeepFreeze, it keep my SYSTEM freeze from virus, malware... after my PC reboot :)
     
  24. chinook9

    chinook9 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Posts:
    439
    Have worked quite a bit with VMWare Player and I really like it. Its easy to setup up and install operating systems, and duplicate images just require a dupe of the applicable folder.
     
  25. MerleOne

    MerleOne Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Posts:
    1,272
    Location:
    France
    The 3 solutions I use are :

    1/ Sandboxie for ordinary apps
    2/ Shadow Defender for apps that integrate deeply into the system
    3/ Image backup & Restore for apps that require reboot after install
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.