Virtualization / imaging .. differing behaviours

Discussion in 'sandboxing & virtualization' started by Sully, Jun 16, 2009.

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  1. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Greetings.

    I have the urge to play with some of the virtualization/imaging type softwares. Like Returnil sort of thing.

    Can peeps give feedback on

    1. which products
    2. is product free or paid
    3. is upgrade to paid offering much more than free (if applicable)
    4. how large are the images typically
    5. how fast is the program, in making images etc.
    6. does it have method to start machine, maybe install new programs etc, and when then give 2 options, which are to restart back to prior state OR save and merge those changes into the image because you accept and like the changes WITHOUT having to make a new image. If this is even possible.

    Sul.
     
  2. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You need Virtualization or Imaging?

    they are tottally different apps. The only ones that combines both is Acronis 2009 home and EAZ-FIX.

    Panagiotis
     
  3. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Ambiguous it seems
    I know what both are. It would seem these are a sort of blur between? Where you do have an image, but when you boot, the image is sometimes referred to as 'frozen', and you are psuedo virtual, then the image is pseudo restored. Honestly, I am not even sure what term to use for such programs to search with.

    Sul.
     
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Sully

    I think you still have the distinction blurred.

    FDISR is a rollback program. Does sort of virtualize since you can undo changes in the system

    I use ShadowDefender which is strictly virtualization. When shadowed all writes are deflected and when you reboot, they are gone.

    Imaging on the other hand just takes a complete image(picture, etc) of the disk. Can be used to retrieve certain files, but mainly to completely restore the disk.

    Very different types of apps.

    Pete
     
  5. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

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    Sully -

    I think Returnil is a fine product - and I've never read a bad comment about it.

    I use the free version. I lock the system and test whatever changes I want to test. Whatever changes have been made are gone after a reboot. Under the paid-version, you decide after testing whether you want to save the changes or discard them.

    For example, I will typically lock the system and install new software. If all goes well, I reboot and reinstall the software (without system lock). If the install was bad, it is all wiped out after the reboot.

    The only limitation with Returnil is you can't fully test an install that requires a reboot as part of the installation process - and that is occasionally a problem. In that case, I usually image the system using Shadow Protect (also a wonderful program), and then can revert back to that image if necessary. The only problem is I have to take the time to create a current image before testing new software. On my computer, image and validation require about 50 minutes in Shadow Protect.
     
  6. raakii

    raakii Registered Member

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    Hi sully please lite vitualisation thread,contains all u want.Shadow user works for reboot software.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  7. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

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    Hi Raakii -

    I looked at ShadowDefender website - I don't see how it works with a software installation requiring a reboot. It seems the same as premium version of Returnil - where you have to decide to discard or save changes prior to reboot. Can you help me with that?

    Thanks,
    Len
     
  8. Creer

    Creer Registered Member

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    Hi LenC,

    i think Raaki said that about Shadow User not Shadow Defender.
    SD after each reboot delete any changes which you made so it is impossible to test on SD software which requires reboot to proper installation process.
     
  9. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    There's one other significant difference. ShadowDefender/Returnil will protect the disk against all the nasties I've played with, where as ShadowUser, won't. Older technology.

    Pete
     
  10. raakii

    raakii Registered Member

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    One thread from blue zenneti ,clearly tells about all this,with disadvantages of each ones.
    This thread from me
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=228995&highlight=lite virtualisation
    Anyway summarily i can u this
    For testing simple softwares

    Returnil&Shadow defender--Removes all changes on reboot .No reboot to enter shadow state.
    Deepfreeze,--Requires reboot to enter shadow state.
    Power Shadow:--No selective drive protection and no exclusion list.

    For testing softwares that require reboot

    1.)Steadystate---Too slow for normal use.
    2.)Shadowuser-----A must try for u .Abandoned product so be careful as peter has told u.

    Problems:Inconsistent continuation of shadow state on improper shutdown.
    Reboot to enter shadow state.
    3)Disk wite copy pro:Bloated one this.

    Inconsistent continuation of shadow state on improper shutdown.
    Reboot to enter shadow state.
    4)Comodo Disk shield Beta:
    Extremely buggy.Beta version has no exclusion list or partial commit.
    This product is abandoned ,they are trying out a clone of rollback rx which is free and is named Comodo timemachine.

    So if u trying to test reboot software
    u have 4 options.
    1)Install rollbackrx and try it.U may face checkdisk problems or general slow system startup,but it provides fastest restore speed.
    2)Fd-isr---requires time and disk space .Works perfectly though.
    3)Use Virtualbox or vmware software.
    4)Shadowuser---u may try few softwares with that,but the environment is unstable ,u may get a improper shutdown and move to original state.
    Finally u always have imaging ,which is one i use often,and is always the most reliable.
    There is actually no lite virtualisation software that provide stable testing for long periods involving reboots which carry over changes.
    Ya i was referring to shadowUser. i wished that feature in shadow defender,but they havent put that in.
     
  11. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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    XenServer 5 is free.
    8 computers in 1. Hundreds of VM's per computer.
    64bit if you have hardware support with -VT or -V, otherwise not much different then Xen.
    Has both a Windows and a Linux client for administration of the server.

    Is that the type of virtualization your looking for?
     
  12. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Not really. I have never heard of that one. I bought vmWare 5 a number of years ago, and I use it a lot. In this case, I am not looking to have a virtual machine. I also have been doing images starting with ghost many years ago, and currently macrium. I can restore my machine easily. This also I am not looking at.

    I have not messed much with things like those listed here. My thought was perhaps there were a program like those listed, that I could get less advanced peeps to use. And myself too, new things are always fun to play with ;)

    What I was hoping was a way to 'freeze' the system, but also allow some special folder exclusions. So in application, for example, my wife could be 'frozen', yet if she wanted to save a document or picture or a downloaded song etc, a special directory could be 'not frozen'. On a reboot then, items saved to this location still existed, but the OS would be clean as the day it was 'frozen'. This would lend itself to things like downloads and bookmarks, new document/picutures etc being kept, but still the OS staying safe.

    After this, I was hoping that you could also conveniently make a choise to 'commit the changes you have made'. That is, being 'frozen' is good, but if for example you booted into the 'frozen' state, and updated firefox, you could say to the program 'I want to freeze from this point now', so the update would be included in all new 'frozen' states.

    I was thinking this might be a great way to keep the OS in a clean state, while still allowing some form of normal goings on, like making a new document to grandma or new bookmarks.

    If that makes any sense.

    Sul.
     
  13. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You research is over.
    ShadowDefender is what your are looking for. :)

    Panagiotis
     
  14. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I totally agree. It works very well for me. Clean simple, does what you need.

    Pete
     
  15. andyman35

    andyman35 Registered Member

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    Another option for software testing is to use application level virtualisation such as SymantecSVS or Thinstall.A good thing with those is they allow different versions of a programme to run alongside each other,great for beta testing.Another advantage of this method is that it allows extended testing of software rather than just a single session.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  16. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    Returnil has a virtual partition feature. An alternative is to store your documents on a separate partition which isn't virtualized, which you can do with the free version. You can see a feature comparison of the free and paid versions at http://www.returnilvirtualsystem.com/products.
     
  17. pegr

    pegr Registered Member

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    The paid version of Returnil has this feature.
     
  18. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Very nice. I will give some of these a trial run. Thanks so much for the info!

    Sul.
     
  19. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Hmm. I have tried both SD and Returnil. A few questions then.

    Number one question. I seen a question asked, which was whether or not Returnil was a yearly subscription or not. As in, no renewal of subscription, no working product. Of course that was for premium not free.

    Having tried both multiple times in vmWare, both seem stable enough. SD seems a little leaner than Rnil, but Rnil seems to offer more features. Not that I need them. For those that have used both, questions then.

    I understand, you engage the 'freeze', and that 'freeze' can be carried over on successive boots or not. I read about these 'freeze' sessions. I am assuming here that what is meant, that if you have system in certain state, and you 'freeze', on next boot if still 'frozen', state is the same, meaning no carry over of any changes. Which means that until you 'un-freeze', you are 'frozen in time'. But, how does the reclaiming of or exclusion directories play? It seemed, I think, that if I was 'frozen', but had MyDocs as direct write, that every boot the data I made (testing) in MyDocs remained, and that when it turned the 'freezing' off, data was still there. So I am not sure why the mention of the session state not remaining in sessions after reboot. Maybe though that was before these newer versions.

    So then in comparing SD vs. Rnil, what are the real differences? Other than some things like restricting .exe's that Rnil has, are they both very similar? One thing that causes a little eye-brow raising is that SD's site is pretty darn basic, with no forum or even a FAQ for support. Has anyone ever had to need their support?

    As far as rebooting to test something, I would use vmWare for that anyway. Snapshots in it are a breeze. Very fast and effective.

    I don't know how the rest of you use these types of programs. I was thinking that for myself, I don't really need it running all the time. Only when I feel I don't want to fudge up my box but do want to try some things out. Heavy duty stuff like firewalls etc I would use vmWare for anyway. But the option to have a clean slate in such short time without having to use SB or vmWare is appealing.

    I see the real benefit for wife or kids or others, where I could train them to have special directories for data storage. As exclusions then, they could run pretty much day to day in 'frozen' state. I just open up bookmarks and special directories. Very similar to how I have SB setup now actually.

    I also wonder, for the kids, how effective it is for thier gaming they like to do. They don't do much online gaming, but if they used SD or Rnil day to day, I assume you could make exclusions for thier gaming profiles. That is, thier stats and control config files etc.

    Yet again, searching for the magical solution for those I know that both I could/would use myself as well as them. I dislike recommending them to use something I do not on a daily basis. It speeds up helping them because I know how to use it instead of having to ask them over the phone 'what does that screen say' 'is that box checked' 'can you ping google? No, cmd.exe then ping....'.

    Sul.
     
  20. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    Validation goes on for ever,my recommendation is to have a good image with validation,then greate one and restore without validation,if all goes well then forget about validation because SP is so solid and many create/restore without any validation with no problem,including me.
     
  21. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    In terms of support, you can email the author by using the support address on the website. He's pretty responsive all though the program is stable.

    Couple of significant differences between Returnil and SD

    SD can shadow all disk drives it see's whereas Returnil, only shadows the c: drive.

    Also SD creates the shadow area on the fly and deletes when shadowing is over. That way no big files when you image

    Finally SD can handle huge stuff on the fly. I've actually shadowed the full folder my VM machine resides in(60gb) and SD returns it to it's pre shadow state flawlessly.

    Beyond that both are excellent products.
     
  22. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Another benifit of shadowdefender is that you can shadow/unshadow non system partitions on the fly.

    Panagiotis
     
  23. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    It would seem there are drawbacks to both SD and Rnil. Is it true that Rnil is a subscription service, and that at the end of subscription (yearly) the RVS protection is stopped?

    After playing even more with both, maybe a combination of the two is what I desire lol. SD lets you create exclusion directories, so that you can have for example 'MyDocs' write to real OS even when shadowed. But there is no option that I see to commit your changes while shadowed except to save files or directories specifically. That seems to shut out an installed program, such as Opera, which has program files, appdata and registry values. Unless I missed something.

    Rnil on the other hand (free version), allows no exclusions for something like 'MyDocs'. But it does let you have the option of writing all changes to the disk on restart. That is, if you are 'protected' (I think is what Rnil calls it instead of shadowed), and you install Opera, you can set the option to save these changes on reboot. This includes I suppose everything, but for sure it includes program files directories and registry entries. I don't recall if I tried that both as statically protected or just a session.

    I frown on subscriptions. Old habits die hard I suppose. Does this sound like a good examination? I really like the features of both, but neither really supply what I am looking for in whole. I did put in for an eval key for Rnil Premium. I also looked at ShadowUser and DeepFreezebut I don't think either will really fit my intentions.

    Sul.
     
  24. innerpeace

    innerpeace Registered Member

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  25. raakii

    raakii Registered Member

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