What is the best alternative to Windows System Restore?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by TheMozart, Jan 19, 2010.

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  1. TheMozart

    TheMozart Former Poster

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    What is the best FREE alternative to Windows System Restore, besides COMODO Time Machine. I don't want to use anything that alters my MBR.
     
  2. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    Free disk imaging applications, such as Macrium Reflect free. But this is one area where it's best not to skimp.
     
  3. TheMozart

    TheMozart Former Poster

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    I already own Acronis Trueimage, but I was hoping on an app which does a quick rollback, instead of me having to always restore whole images which can take ages.
     
  4. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    If that is the case I'm not sure what to tell you. The only freeware application like that is Comodo Time Machine. Also, upgrading your imaging software would be a good idea, as there are a lot of problems with newer version of ATI.
     
  5. TheMozart

    TheMozart Former Poster

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    I am still using ATI 11 and it works flawlessly. But it takes between 20-25 minutes for a system restore, so that's why I was looking for an alternative to use that is quicker.

    I will still use ATI and have main image backups, but at times I just want to rollback a few hours or a day.
     
  6. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    It might take longer. But on the other hand it is a lot safer; when you're data is stored on the hard drive there's nothing protecting you is that drive or any other hardware were to fail. This way you can be protected by keeping your data stored externally, which is not possible with rollback software.

    I believe ATI is a good version, before it got bloated and convoluted and essentially unusable.
     
  7. TheMozart

    TheMozart Former Poster

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    Yeah, you are right.

    BTW, that's why I kept ATI 11 and won't be upgrading. No need to. Why fix something which ain't broke.
     
  8. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    Have you tried Returnil?

    Here are the features of the free version:

     
  9. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    My solution is disable system restore > it wipe all restore points and at the same time gives you big chunks of free diskspace back.
    Then image your system partition and further image on a regular basis.
    I recommend imaging with Shadow Protect from the CD only.

    Just noticed that your after a free alternative so i guess Macrium would be a good choice.
     
  10. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    This is exactly what I recommend everyone do.
     
  11. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    IMHO imaging is the best route for absolute certainty.

    The tricky part is to structure your data so that your OS drive is small and easy to 'replace' with an image. Multiple drives help out immensely.

    Imaging many gigabytes of data, well, that is not something I want to do. My images are very small, about 3gb +- so restoration/creation is < 5 minutes.

    Just one way of many ;)

    Sul.
     
  12. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    To the best of my knowledge all of the 'instant restore' products modify the MBR in order to provide the functionality that they do. I wouldn't worry about them altering the MBR, as it's not really a problem. First of all, since you have and use ATI, you could always restore an un-altered MBR whenever you wanted to, not to mention that FIXMBR will also return the MBR back to the Windows standard.

    I've been using Rollback Rx for quite a while and I wouldn't be without it. While I haven't used CTM, from what I've read it performs in a similar manner and affords the same funtionality.

    I say go for it (but don't ever get complacent and start to believe that any of the 'instant restore' products are a substitute for performing image backups)!

    PS. I would agree with Sully's advice (insofar as creating a relatively small C-partition). :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  13. Threedog

    Threedog Registered Member

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    I use Sully's method also. I keep OS and programs on a small partition, 20 gigs, and then all the data on the second partition and then the images and backups on the second hard drive. Only takes about 5 mins to restore the image, about the time it takes me to make a coffee.
     
  14. PsychEroc

    PsychEroc Registered Member

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  15. Victek

    Victek Registered Member

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    As others have noted it seems like all the "roll back" programs need to modify the MBR to do their thing. I just started using CTM and the ability to access the console during boot and restore a snapshot before Windows loads is a real benefit. I had a situation last year where the installation of Vista SP2 failed and I couldn't recover the system. Fortunately I had a fairly recent image, but if I had had something like CTM then it would have saved a lot of time and grief. I believe you have to use an imaging program in conjunction with a roll back program, so you have to make sure you have a compatible pair. I've read that CTM works with imaging programs, but I haven't tested it yet. For imaging I've been using the free Paragon Backup 10.
     
  16. DasFox

    DasFox Registered Member

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    Good point, the OS size should always be small, because less on there also means less possibilites of hardware failure.

    Image For Windows is great for images, simple and fast and for the cost it can't be beat.
     
  17. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    As many imaging tools cannot put a 100gb image onto a 20gb drive/partition, it is a good idea to have a small sized partition/drive image. It was not so long ago when you would make a 2gb primary partition, but now that is a thing of the past thankfully.

    20gb is a little small for me, although I do have one floating around. With the size of drives today, I find somewhere around 100gb to be a nice size for the primary partition. Odds are high that a new or used drive that might be needed to replace my current one will be at least 100gb. As well, with the size of programs today, space gets eaten up very quickly.

    I commonly install programs to c: and test them etc, then copy/paste them to the d:\program files directory. If all goes well it ends up being a simple method to make a 'portable' app. Sometimes I need to export some registry keys, but I am in the habit of doing that now anyway.

    The beauty of using imaging (macrium is what I use) is that I can have a bartPE image and very quickly boot into that right from the boot.ini (on XP), and the restoration is much better than some of the more dos/text based methods I have used in the past.

    As has been said, contructing your method of storing images and data on other drives/partitions goes a long way to just how easy it can really be. I have used many imaging softwares over the years, and while historically I have used them or archive or disaster purposes, the use over the last few years of quicly being able to 'reinstall' to a fresh state has proved to be a very good thing.

    I used to reformat/reinstall all the time, sometimes multiple times a week. Now with vMware I can put together boot-cds and such, to test them, and not have to do a full install on my real box or a test box. The imaging has helped to clean up my system because it means I can do really whatever I want whenever I want and in a matter of, like ThreeDog said, a cup of coffee, I can be back to a pristine state.

    I know this is not for everyone, but I think all advanced users should try it out sometime just to see what it is all about, if for no other reason than to have some clue about disaster recovery tools.

    Sul.
     
  18. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I would suggest you think about what you are most likely to need and then build your solution around that.

    How likely is it you will need to restore the full system due to a hardware failure for example. The difference between an image and a roll-back program is that the image is most valuable in the event of a total destruction of the OS due to hardware failure while the roll-back program will deal with just about all other scenarios quickly and effectively.

    So what is it you want to accomplish and how much energy and time are you willing to spend in order to attain your goal?

    In my case I do a lot of software testing so I want to be able to quickly revert my PC to a prior state so as to eliminate the results of a series of tests. I also want to be able to quickly revert to a prior state should something begin to go wrong with the PC. The best solution for these needs is a roll-back program. On the other hand I also want to be able to restore my OS and files in the event of a drive failure, however this is far less likely to occur than the need to simply revert the PC to a prior state. Its less likely but still a very real possibility.

    My solution is to use RollBack RX (very similar to CTM I believe) for my day to day protection. Once a week I use the RollBack Rx companion imaging program to create an image of the PC with RX installed. Once a month I uninstall RX, defrag my drive and do whatever other maintenance is required, and then create an image of the OS and data etc using Paragon imaging software. I then reinstall RollBack and I am good to go for another month. To make sure I am covered up to the miniute I also have my critical data files uploaded to an online server as they are modified (I am using iDrive).

    The above gives me a high degree of flexibility and a real sense of security. I probably do not need to do the monthly Paragon images as the RX companion images would most likely suffice but the extra layer of security does not hurt.
     
  19. nikanthpromod

    nikanthpromod Registered Member

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    Free: COMODO Time Machine
    Paid: Rollback RX

    Try Disk Imaging.
     
  20. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    A sort of lateral approach might lead you to consider Vbox, the free virtualisation tool from Sun, or VMWare Player from VMWare

    If you want to 'make adjustments' in an os for testing/trial etc then running a VM is a nice option with the built in rollback features and ability to save/copy the vmdk files.

    As for primary system ( and now that FDISR appears to be on the wane) then imaging is the way to go. If as noted the system partiton is kept small then imaging and restore can be very quick.
     
  21. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    Like many pointed out, imaging is the way to go with or without System Restore. I used to disable System Restore for the very reasons Huupi (#9) mentioned. Not anymore, System Restore on Vista (& Win 7 I'm sure must be the same) is more reliable than the XP version.

    The problem about the "chunks" of space used by SR can be easily dealt with by disabling SR before Imaging and creating a new restore point straight after or, using CCleaner, which has a tool that can remove any or all restore points but the last one for safety (which means that at the most the last restore point will use less than 1 GB). I have been using this method for a month without any problems.
     
  22. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    As for primary system ( and now that FDISR appears to be on the wane) then imaging is the way to go. If as noted the system partiton is kept small then imaging and restore can be very quick.[/QUOTE]

    IMHO FDISR or for the sake of that any Instant recovery software is secondary to real imaging.
    If FDISR fail to restore then as a last resort you can restore an image.
     
  23. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    FDISR is nice but its only complementing a real imaging solution as it always was.
     
  24. blarson

    blarson Registered Member

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