Free Replacement for Microsoft SteadyState on Windows 7 – It’s like VMware Snapshots for Real Machines! Print E-mail
General
Written by Darwin Sanoy   
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:00am

At first Microsoft was planning a new “Guest Mode” in Windows 7 to replace the functionality of the SteadyState toolkit.  That feature was dropped from the final product, so if you’ve been using and loving SteadyState on Windows XP, you’re left a little high and dry.  There is a free product that is a kind of fusion of SteadyState, System Restore, Backup and VMware virtual disk snapshots (but for real machines)…

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I have always wanted VMware Workstation style snapshots for real machines and that appears to be exactly what Time Machine is – except it also rolls in some of the best features of snapshot based backup software like Ghost (version 8 and later) and Acronis TrueImage.

Comodo works by taking snapshots of your hard disk – very much like VMware Workstation.  The system can be restored to any snapshot at anytime.  You can schedule a restore to a snapshot – which emulates SteadyState’s ability to restore the system upon reboot, but is much more flexible.

One of the most interesting capabilities is that Time Machine snapshots are very much like VMware Workstation snapshots.  They can be taken in a hierarchical tree model and you can restore your current running operation to any snapshot in tree (see Figure 2).  If you’ve ever used VMware snapshots for maintaining multiple testing scenarios, you already know how invaluable this ability is.

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Time Machine Snapshots have many other interesting abilities:

  • Snapshots can also be mounted as a drive letter– similar to backup snapshots in Ghost and Acronis True Image (Figure 2).
  • Snapshots can be locked so that they will not be deleted by automatic cleanup procedures (Figure 2).
  • Creation of a snapshot can be scheduled (Figure 4).
  • Creation of a snapshot can triggered during startup (Figure 9).
  • Change to any snapshot – forward or backward (Figure 2).
  • Search all snapshots to restore an individual file (Figure 7).
  • Automatic deletion of old snapshots (Figure 9).
  • Automatic defragmentation of snapshots (Figure 9).

Time Machine also has a fairly capable command line mode for using in scripts.  Time Machine adds itself to the system path when it is installed, so the command line exe can be used without fully pathing it.  If you do not include any arguments it simply does nothing.  Curiously using the "/?"  option opens the chm help file but using an incorrect parameter will give you a command line summary of the available options (Figure 13).

The screenshots below reveal most of the functionality of the product and the product has a very respectable help file!

You can download Comodo Time Machine at: http://www.comodo.com/home/backup-online-storage/data-recovery.php

SnapshotsChrono

Figure 1 – Timeline View: Chronological List of Snapshots.

 SnapshotTreeandMenu

 Figure 2 – Tree View - Chronological List of Snapshots.

 CreateaSnapshot

 Figure 3 – Take a Snapshot.

 SnapshotSchedule

 Figure 4 – Create a Snapshot Schedule.

 RestoreSchedule

Figure 5 – Create a Restore Schedule.

 Restore

 Figure 6 – Restore an Individual Snapshot.

 RecoverFiles

 Figure 7 – Search for Individual Files to Recover.

 ResetBaseline

Figure 8 – Reset Baseline Snapshot.

 SettingsProgramSettings

Figure 9 – Overall Program Settings.

 SettingsAccessControl

Figure 10 – Settings: Enable Access Control for Using Time Machine.

SettingsPermissions

Figure 11 – Settings: Time Machine Permissions.

 SettingsProtection

Figure 12 – Settings: Disk Protection Settings.

 screenshot - 7_28_2010  3_32_42 pm

Figure 13 – Command Line Mode.

 

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