Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for Windows 7 software that will allow me to quickly create a "checkpoint", do whatever I might need to do to my computer - install programs/drivers/updates, create/delete personal files, reboot the system multiple times, open questionable attachments - and then revert the entire system back to when the checkpoint was created.

Essentially I want Windows Restore Points that save my personal files and partitions, too.

It sounds like disk imaging might be the ticket, but creating them is much too slow and the restore process too involved... I'm hoping to sacrifice full disaster recovery for speed. Creating a checkpoint should be as close to one-click as possible, and rolling back should be a matter of selecting a restore point and rebooting. Ding!

I'm familiar with Sandboxie, True Image Home "Try and Decide", Returnil, and a number of other "virtual system" apps that actively "catch" changes and allow you to commit or reject them. I'm not interested in these for a number of reasons - I prefer the "cut and dry" restore point approach.

Finally, I'll note that I've just recently become aware of Comodo Time Machine. It sounds absolutely perfect, however, a quick skim through the user forums show more than a few horror stories of corrupted, unbootable systems. Any positive personal experience with the software to suppress my superstitions, or suggestions for more established alternatives would be greatly appreciated - Comodo Time Machine seems relatively new. I'm willing to purchase unbloated, quality software.

Thanks for your help!

share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers

I've been looking for something like this for a while now but nothing has turned up. For now, I've found the best solution is virtualbox It's easy to setup, supports a wide variety of Operating systems and it's free.

share|improve this answer
    
I'm guessing that would involve copying the current state of my OS into a virtual machine, installing the software in the virtual machine and testing it, then merging the changes back to my original system. Not sure if that's possible? Caveats would be additional space to hold the equivalent of my original system and any performance issues testing the software in a virtual environment (3D apps?). I'm not that familiar with virtualization, but it seems a round-about way for my needs right now. Thanks for your suggestion, though! I'll keep it in mind. –  calbar May 20 '10 at 5:19
    
There are ways of taking an image from your existing environment and using that in VirtualBox, via a VHD. Macrium Reflect has a product that can do that support.macrium.com - ImageToVHD 3D is supported, but it does have limitations forums.virtualbox.org/… Acceleration Support Other than using this kind of product, you could look at ceedo.com or vmware.com/products/thinapp Neither is ideal :( –  Pulse May 20 '10 at 6:14
    
My vote is also for Virtualization, VMWare or VirtualBox are good choices. With VMWare workstation you can create a VM from your current system while it's running. For both you can set a checkpoint before installing something then revert back to that. I use VMWare daily for testing and have found the idea saves lots of time. –  jtreser May 20 '10 at 11:26
    
Well thanks for your replies guys, but I'm really looking for a no-exceptions solution. I'm a 3D artist, so acceleration support is a must, and I don't really want to tiptoe around any limitations. This is me at the end of a long road testing out different solutions, and I'd really like it to be as straightforward as possible... –  calbar May 21 '10 at 15:31
add comment

If you're using XP or Vista you might find Microsoft SteadyState useful. Unfortunately it does not support Windows 7.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks Mike, good point - I am using Windows 7. I just updated the tag to reflect that. –  calbar May 20 '10 at 4:28
1  
Does SteadyState work for trying out software? It sounds like it discards changes on every reboot - and installers often make you reboot. –  Hugh Allen May 20 '10 at 6:15
    
I haven't used it myself but the documentation says you can set three different Disk Protection Levels: Remove at restart, Retain temporarily and Retain Permanently. –  Mike Fitzpatrick May 20 '10 at 7:29
add comment

How about simply making another non-admin user account and trying your software in there?

share|improve this answer
    
I'd really like to have a solution that covers my entire system - registry changes, driver updates, file deletion, viruses, etc. I haven't run more than one user in a looong time, so I could be wrong, but I also imagine dependencies on the information in my primary user account in regard to testing. It's a novel idea, though... –  calbar May 20 '10 at 5:28
add comment

You can try StorageCraft's ShadowUser.

ShadowUser ShadowMode™ provides a safe computing environment by creating a virtual twin of your PC. Restore the pre-ShadowMode™ system state no matter what has happened to the PC. At anytime, authorized users can save changes to the system, save selected files and folders or simply return the system to its pre-ShadowMode state.

share|improve this answer
    
So my main gripes with the "virtual layer" approach have been the space required on your system drive to store changes, reboot requires denial or committal (not shadow user!), performance hits involved in "catching" changes, and many forum posts about corrupted drives using (or possibly abusing :P) this kind of software. As for ShadowUser itself, it seems rather old..? It doesn't have a product link on StorageCraft's website anymore and the only manual I was able to find was through Google, dated 2006 and only listing NT, 2000 and XP under system requirements. Thanks, though! –  calbar May 21 '10 at 16:11
add comment

I don't know if this is practical for you, but I have switched to completely work on a VM. (This answer complements Pulse's) The only thing I am missing is direct hardware access to the gpu, everything else works really nice and the performance decrease is usually not noticable. I am a power user (programmer, compile times in the hours) and am usually very conscious of performance stuff, but there are a few features you just cannot beat using a "native" system.

One-Click snapshots of your entire machine state are only the beginnning. The ability to take my whole development system home and run it there, seamlessly with different hardware is what fulfills my dreams. When I get a new machine at home or at work I just need a few minutes to be fully cracking in my completely familiar environment again. If I crash my system somehow, click ->whoopee it is back to normal. I can clone the whole machine, try something, and throw it away, I know with absolute binary certainty, that my machine remains unaffected.

I can run multiple versions of the same machine, completely different ones, can edit something under linux and click compile/debug it under windows and *blablabla Stopping the digression into an argument for VMs....

Well, as I said, this may not be for everyone, but I simply love it and it solves your problem.

share|improve this answer
    
That sounds like an awesome way to work, but I'm a 3D artist, and as far as I understand it you take a bit of a performance hit with virtualization, especially with heavy 3D applications. I'm also in the games industry, so unhindered performance of the latest games is also a must. I'm jealous that you're able to run that setup though - sounds great! –  calbar May 21 '10 at 15:37
    
Well thx. But you are right that good graphics hardware virtualization is still virtually non existent (excuse the pun). It definitely is not production ready, yet. Regarding questionable attachments (virii), if you want safety from that, the only solution I see is saving mirrors of your HD. Expensive RAID controllers might be able to do that quickly (hot plugging of multiple mirror volumes), or the zfs filesystem under *nix. In zfs you can keep multiple drives in a pool with the same content and detach one to make a checkpoint. The only limit is the number of hds you can afford ;-) –  AndreasT May 25 '10 at 8:24
add comment
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I've found the perfect software for this. It's called Rollback Rx, and does exactly what I requested. You can create "snapshots" of your entire hard drive in seconds, and restore your entire computer to a previous snapshot in less than a minute. You can even recover files from your most recent snapshot AFTER restoring to a previous. It also appears to have a good amount of history behind it and the forums and support team are super helpful. See http://www.rollbacksoftware.com/ for details and download.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.