Skip to main content

System Recovery with Comodo's Time Machine

Comodo's Time Machine is a software application that runs on your Windows machine and periodically (either manually or automatically) takes snapshots of your system. You are then able to roll back to any of these snapshots in the future. Indeed you can jump backwards and forwards in the tree and new branches appear as you make changes to the system.

The idea behind it is that if you suffer any problems with corrupted software, malware, etc., then you can roll back to a known good state and start again. You can lock snapshots so that they don't get deleted and then clear out the ones that you don't want to keep any more. This is quite important, especially if you take automatic snapshots. You have to remember that every change made to the computer (i.e. every time you run it or change a file) the changes are stored. When a new snapshot is created, if you change a file you will have a new version on your system as well as the old one. Due to this, it requires a fair amount of space on your system. However, the upsides are fairly obvious.

I have been using it quite a lot recently on test boxes while performing testing of security software against various malware and other attacks. It enabled me to perform a test, roll back to the pre-test state and perform it again or try another attack from a fresh system. It greatly reduced the testing time for certain attacks as I wasn't having to deal with an imaging server, etc. For the normal user, however, this does mean that if you get infected with malware or something else goes wrong with your system, you can very quickly and easily roll back to a previous state and carry on working.

There are a few issues to keep in mind though. Firstly, as I've already mentioned, the space required can be quite large if you keep taking snapshots and don't clear previous ones off the system. Secondly, if you roll back your system, you won't have access to any new files or software that you have put on the system - you will need to roll forward again to get at these. Finally, I did have one or two occasions where the restore failed. When I say the restore failed, I mean one snapshot failed so that I couldn't boot into it. At the boot stage I had to select another snapshot to boot from. I could always find a snapshot the did work, but it is slightly worrying that there were occasions when the one I wanted wouldn't boot. This could be due to the fact that I was installing various service packs, updates and malware onto the system and switching between them many times, but it is still worth noting that you will require a full system backup and you must backup all your data regularly.

Of course there are other products out there that do the same thing and some reviewers say that they are better (e.g. Acronis). However, I found Comodo's Time Machine very easy to use and it is free. I'm not necessarily endorsing Comodo's product; I'm saying that this type of software is worth a look for keeping your systems running.

Comments

Popular Posts

You say it's 'Security Best Practice' - prove it!

Over the last few weeks I have had many conversations and even attended presentations where people talk about 'Security Best Practices' and how we should all follow them. However, 'Best Practice' is just another way of saying 'What everyone else does!' OK, so if everyone else does it and it's the right thing to do, you should be able to prove it. The trouble is that nobody ever measures best practice - why would you? If everyone's doing it, it must be right. Well, I don't agree with this sentiment. Don't get me wrong, many of the so-called best practices are good for most organisations, but blindly following them without thought for your specific business could cause as many problems as you solve. I see best practice like buying an off-the-peg suit - it will fit most people acceptably well if they are a fairly 'normal' size and shape. However, it will never fit as well as a tailored suit and isn't an option for those of us who are o

Coventry Building Society Grid Card

Coventry Building Society have recently introduced the Grid Card as a simple form of 2-factor authentication. It replaces memorable words in the login process. Now the idea is that you require something you know (i.e. your password) and something you have (i.e. the Grid Card) to log in - 2 things = 2 factors. For more about authentication see this post . How does it work? Very simply is the answer. During the log in process, you will be asked to enter the digits at 3 co-ordinates. For example: c3, d2 and j5 would mean that you enter 5, 6 and 3 (this is the example Coventry give). Is this better than a secret word? Yes, is the short answer. How many people will choose a memorable word that someone close to them could guess? Remember, that this isn't a password as such, it is expected to be a word and a word that means something to the user. The problem is that users cannot remember lots of passwords, so remembering two would be difficult. Also, having two passwords isn't real

Trusteer or no trust 'ere...

...that is the question. Well, I've had more of a look into Trusteer's Rapport, and it seems that my fears were justified. There are many security professionals out there who are claiming that this is 'snake oil' - marketing hype for something that isn't possible. Trusteer's Rapport gives security 'guaranteed' even if your machine is infected with malware according to their marketing department. Now any security professional worth his salt will tell you that this is rubbish and you should run a mile from claims like this. Anyway, I will try to address a few questions I raised in my last post about this. Firstly, I was correct in my assumption that Rapport requires a list of the servers that you wish to communicate with; it contacts a secure DNS server, which has a list already in it. This is how it switches from a phishing site to the legitimate site silently in the background. I have yet to fully investigate the security of this DNS, however, as most