Create your own "factory" recover partition?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Wolters, May 13, 2018.

  1. Wolters

    Wolters Registered Member

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    Hi,

    I have 20 Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows which are used by pupils in weekly workshops. When the workshop is finished I would like to roll back these tablets to their original status, including all the software, files and folders I have prepared the tablets with. As the tablets are used off-line and in different locations every week, the most ideal would be to create a custum made "factory restore" partition like the one Lenovo used to have so that you can hold down a dedicated F-key and then boot into this rescue partition which contain WinPE and an image of the entire drive which can then be use to recover to this earlier state when it was originally set up.

    Paragon had this feature before in their Backup & Recovery 14 and version 15. But they seem to have abandoned this feature in the current free version (16). AOMEI OneKey Recovery software does exactly what I am looking for BUT the software fails now and then which leaves me with some of the tablets NOT covered. Acronis used to have the same functionality called "Secure Zone", but I don't think they have a free version with this feature?

    Are there any alternative to AOMEI OneKey that you know of? Or is it possible to "build" your own factory recover partition so that you can boot into this partition and roll back the system without using any USB:s or CD:s with WinPE, etc?
     
  2. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    The Macrium REFLECT Free Edition should easily be able to do what you need. It will allow you to image a baseline (on the tablet in a separate partition or an external drive) and will also allow you to install its WinPE-based Recovery Media on the disk itself and install a Windows BOOT menu item to use to re-initialize your tablet.

    I think that covers what you're trying to do. I would suggest also creating an external (CD/DVD/UFD) version of both the Recovery Media as well as the baseline image (it can be copied once created on an internal partition)... just in case something happens to the device itself.
     
  3. Wolters

    Wolters Registered Member

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    Thanks a lot Mr Frog! That was good to hear! Do you think that Rollback RX could accomplish the same thing? If I, before installing Rollback RX, make an image of the whole installation and store this image on another disc for safekeeping, and then install Rollback RX and use the baseline to roll back to at the end of the course (i.e. each week). However, I get a little bit suspicious as they do not seem to answer any post in their forum recently...
     
  4. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    If you use Rollback RX and have a failure of some sort, the ability of Rollback to get you back to where you started works SOMETIMES... if it doesn't work, you're left holding the bag since you will have no backup of the System. Rollback IS NOT a disk imaging System.

    If you want reliability, and a way to get back to your baseline, I would not recommend Rollback... REFLECT will do the job without issue and will do it through the standard Windows BOOT menu. With the addition of another FREE tool on your System (EasyBCD), you will even be able to hide the BOOT menu from the casual user.

    If you want to try Rollback RX, you should use the HOME (or FREE) edition. If all the tablets are the same, you can baseline a single tablet with REFLECT FREE and store the image on an external media. Then install Rollback HOME on all your tablets. RBrx HOME will re-baseline your tablets without issue (if it works OK)... if there's a problem, you can use the REFLECT FREE Recovery Media (UFD - USB Flash Disk) and get back to your baseline with the problem device. That'll at least protect you from a Rollback failure.

    The Horizon Datasys Rollback RX Forum is basically a ghost town these days... it's hard to get help over there.
     
  5. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    AOMEI OneKey Recovery


    AOMEI OneKey Recovery is an easy and safe one key recovery software which can one click backup OS to local or external storages and create one key recovery partition. Once you backup your system with AOMEI OneKey Recovery, you can set to press A or F11 to enter recovery environment.

    Installation environment Requirements:
    Supported Operating Systems:Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista
    Supported Storage Devices:Local disks, External hard disks (HDD), Solid state drives (SSD), USB flash drives, etc.
    Supported Disk Types:MBR disk, GPT disk and UEFI Boot.

    https://www.aomeitech.com/onekey-recovery.html


    There is a Freeware version.
     
  6. RockLobster

    RockLobster Registered Member

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    It might be more convenient to run virtual machines, you can configure a VM template with all the prepared files, and deploy clones of it then just delete them when they are done and start fresh ones for new students.
    That's how most public access computers do it so each new user gets a fresh computer.
    That way you are safe from corrupted recovery partition problems which I have had happen a lot.
     
  7. Wolters

    Wolters Registered Member

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    Thanks a lot all of you!

    @zapjb I tried AOMEI OneKey Recovery first, but the strange thing was that it worked very well on some of the machines, but failed to install on others! Even if it was exactly the same model of Microsoft Surface with the same Windows 10 update, etc. But I have posted this phenomenon on their support forum.

    @TheRollbackFrog Thanks once again for good advice! I will start out doing just what you advice. What I do like about Rollback RX is that it is blazingly fast to get the computer back to you baseline state. And together with the protection of an image of the system as well, I think we are covered. If Horizon DataSys has terminated to develop Rollback RX, are there any good alternatives? I know of Deep Freeze, but that seems mighty expensive for a small non-profit organization like ours.

    @RockLobster Your suggestion to run virtual machines sounds really interesting, but since I do not know anything about this concept, I will have to read up on the subject. Could you please point me in any direction where I can learn about how to set up such a solution? Not too complicated to start with! ;-)
     
  8. RockLobster

    RockLobster Registered Member

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    The basic concept is, when you run virtual machine software, you can run temporary operating systems on the same computer as the main operating system.
    The main OS is then considered to be the host and the temporary ones are guest operating systems.
    The guest OS can be pretty much any OS and you can use it just as you would if it was a regular installed OS.
    The guest OS is isolated from the main OS by the virtual machine software.
    The guest one can be saved at any time, in any state of modification, even with extra software installed.
    That saved OS is like a clone and can be reloaded later or deployed to other computers that have the virtual machine software installed.
    Virtual Box is a popular virtual machine software because it is free and has lots of features for doing things like I just mentioned.
    Id say best way to find out more is to download and install virtual box and play around with it.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  9. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    @Wolters - although Rolback RX HOME allows you its System protection through multiple reBOOTs, LITE Virtualization (LV) is able to perform similar protection during a single session, with a return to baseline at each System reBOOT/reSTART. LV and Rollback work in entirely different ways, with LV being a bit less risky than RBrx. An example of a FREE version of this type of software is Toolwiz Time Freeze (gotta keep those expenses down). There are many others but most require PAID licenses to perform.
     
  10. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Wolters

    Do you understand what makes Rollback work and how it is very different from the other solutions.

    Pete
     
  11. Wolters

    Wolters Registered Member

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    Thanks, Pete for asking! I think I have a vague idea of the differences. To me, the "imaging" solutions, is an identical, physical copy of the hard disc content, albeit in a more compressed form, while Rollback seems to me more of a "representation" of the hard drive, a more abstract concept... So my understanding of this is that an actual, physical copy of the hard drive, if stored elsewhere, is much more secure than what Rollback does. But I can't say that I understand how Rollback works in a real sense. But I would be very happy to learn more about the difference!

    Anyway, I thought that the idea and concept behind Rollback RX (and other similar software) is really neat as the "rollback" process takes a few seconds, while the imaging way of doing this, for me at least, takes 10 minutes to roll back if I have the image on the same hard drive as the baseline installment. So my idea was to install everything that we need, make an image of this and store it elsewhere in case the whole disc goes kaputt, then place a "rescue image" on a special partion so that you can boot into that partition, like a factory reset. And on top of that use Rollback for those quick reset situations when you want to roll back to a baseline really fast.
     
  12. Wolters

    Wolters Registered Member

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    Maybe I should add that I have turned off WSUS and also stopped the automatic defrag service that is built into Windows 10, as I don't want any update or change of the discs to interfere with our set up. We will only use these tablets during a summer camp where we want to roll back the computer after one weeks use. So the idea was to "freeze" the machine as much as possible, and then go back to that "frozen moment" every week.
     
  13. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  14. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Panagiotis, can wioski survive reSTART/reBOOT operations, ie, continue daily changes until you want the baseline again?
     
  15. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Yes it can.
    How it works:
    - You install windows in a vhd vdisk file. This vdisk works as a baseline (maintenancemode)
    - then creates a second vhd vdisk file differential linked to the baseline (kioskmode). Whatever you do even as admin stays in this differential file and can:
    1st) be used as "automatic reset mode" at reboot/shutdown or
    2nd) survive reboots/shuttdowns, etc. as long as it has sufficient space to grow, if the "automatic reset mode" is set to disabled
    - when you want to restore in the frozen state it reboots, deletes the differential vhd and recreates it and then boots again in the kiosk mode.
    - If you want to install apps perform updates etc. you boot in "maintence mode" and the changes are written in the baseline vhd.

    ps. actually it has 2 differential vhd's Diff1.vhd and Diff2.vhd and both use the initial vhd as parent.

    Panagiotis
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  16. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Thank you very much, sir... sounds very interesting!
     
  17. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You are welcome. :)

    It is ... especially for the fact that uses tools/drivers that allready exist in the Win 7/8/10. If you take a look at the videos in youtube you'll get the general idea how it works.
     
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