The more I read about Comodo Time Machine (CTM) - here in the forums, its product overview, and its manual - the more I felt deja vu regarding GoBack. There look to be some additional or different management features but the concept and usurping the bootstrap area in the MBR seem reminiscent of GoBack.
To be fair, I only trialed GoBack once but never ended up using it. So I don’t recall if GoBack was a file versioning system or an incremental image backup utility. I already schedule weekly full and daily incremental image backups using Acronis TrueImage (ATI) plus I can do an incremental image backup on demand. I’m wondering that CTM does that GoBack didn’t or what ATI doesn’t.
I am not aware of Goback, But Comodo Time Machine takes a snapshot of your system state. CTM ‘snapshots’ are a complete record of your entire system (including the registry, critical operating system files and user created documents). If you wish to restore to a snapshot, the entire system will be retrieved.
GoBack got passed around through several companies, last ending at Symantec (under their Norton consumer division). Eventually they dropped support for GoBack and suggested their customers move to their Ghost imaging product (which also rolled in Powerquest’s DriveImage after acquiring that company in 2003). In many ways, Comodo Time Machine looks very similar to imaging programs, like Ghost and Acronis TrueImage, which can perform full and incremental (and also exact sector-by-sector) image backups. GoBack was another imaging product but, as I recall, saved differential backups (so they were small but dependent on a chain of backups), had limitations on how much it could backups, ■■■■■■■ around with the partition table, but had the advantage of automatic backups by waiting for the host to go idle to save the backup data rather than having the user schedule or perform manually-started backups.
I believe all these products can or does usurp the 446-byte bootstrap area in the MBR so they can run a “startup/rescue manager” before the OS loads (in case there is a problem with the OS). As such, you had to decide which product got the bootstrap MBR spot because they would not chain together (i.e., they couldn’t move the current bootstrap code into the unused part of the unpartitionable first track but which has been proven possible with some multi-boot managers). I use Acronis TrueImage which can optionally load its rescue manager in the MBR bootstrap area. If I were to use CTM, I would have to forego the ATI rescue manager (and rely on a bootable rescue CD to load ATI’s rescue manager); however, there really wouldn’t be much point in using two concurrent imaging programs (CTM and ATI or CTM and Ghost) unless you needed the extra features, like hiding the backups in a different partition, of the payware imagers. I do like ATI’s ability to use a hidden partition on another hard disk (its Acronis Zone) to store the image backups to, one, keep them around should the hard disk with the OS partition go bad and, two, help prevent access to the backups by malware. ATI even includes their Try&Decide feature which operates much like the free version of Returnil (to restore the host back to its prior state but requires a reboot in the free version, and which is similar to having a 1-snapshot restore available in CTM). So ATI does it all but it isn’t free like CTM.
I remember GoBack was big for many years but faded as imaging programs became more known and used by computer users. So then I see CTM show up which seems to be an evolved or improved version of GoBack and wonder about its longevity. Free might make it survive to compete against the payware imaging programs. While I have already paid for ATI, having CTM for free to install on other hosts is sweet.
I agree, I loved GoBack and couldn’t wait until another option was available.
The engine Comodo uses is not theirs. It comes from Horizon Data Systems. They make Rollback RX which is the original restore program less all of the heartaches of CTM. I have been using it for over 2 years trouble free. It is also full featured (not stripped down like CTM).
There is also a sister program called EAZ-FIX that is the same as Rollback (you can even switch the activation code between them).
I recommend these 2 programs. They offer demos as well. http://www.horizondatasys.com/169614.ihtml
Do these products offer to store the backup/snapshot files on a different partition and preferrably a partition on a different hard disk than for the OS partition (or whatever partition it protects)? When I trialed CTM, I couldn’t believe that they forced me to save its snapshot files in the same partition as the OS. That is just dumb. It immediately relegates CTM to just a file versioning utility (something now available with NT Backup in Vista/7) since you will need to still perform your real backups to save them elsewhere. What good is a backup saved on the same hard disk with the OS that crashes and you have to replace? Hard disk dies, poof, there go all your backups. Malware deletes files or formats your OS partition, poof, there go all your backups. Oh yeah, that’s smart.
Does Rollback RX let you save its snapshot files to a partition other than the one it is protecting (and preferrably to a partition on a different hard disk)? Their online manual sucks to figure out how to configure their software.
From EAZ-FIX description of how to recover files that were created/modified after your last image/backup, I realized the same could be done using Acronis TrueImage. I hadn’t thought of this before but I have ATI configured to usurp the MBR bootstrap area so it is available on booting the host. This means I could do the same using ATI during bootup by having it create another image of the crashed system, restore to the prior good image, and then using ATI after the boot into the restored OS to dig into the crashed system image to get at those files created or modified after the last good image backup. Don’t know why that escaped me before. I know that ATI will save an image using its boottime utility from the MBR becasue that’s how I’m stuck creating images on my Windows X Pro 64-bit host (ATI fails when ran inside that OS but not when ran using its MBR program).
Because CTM stores its snapshots in the same partition that it is protecting, it cannot replace a backup utility that can save elsehwere to prevent loss of those backups due to corruption or failure of the hard disk containing the protected partition. Because of this, CTM might get relegated to a file versioning utility; however, since CTM doesn’t track changes (create & modify) to a file but instead saves snapshots at scheduled intervals, it really isn’t good as a file versioning utility, either. I can scheduled hourly, daily, and other scheduled image backup intervals using ATI, Ghost, Paragon (which has a free Express version), and other imaging programs, too. This means you will lose any files you created or modified since the prior scheduled or manual snaphot unless you use the same trick mentioned above (which gets you only the last copy of the file). I trialed a file versioning utility a couple months back (alas, I cannot remember its name); however, it incurred too much overhead on my system which resulted in a significant impact in responsiveness of my host. If you don’t have an imaging program then CTM becomes a choice because it is free but then Paragon’s backup (Free Data Recovery software | Paragon Backup & Recovery Community Edition) would be another free choice, too, and Paragon has been at this a lot longer.