WTF is this thing?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by G. Morgan, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. G. Morgan

    G. Morgan Guest

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  2. G. Morgan

    PeeCee Guest

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  3. G. Morgan

    G. Morgan Guest

    G. Morgan, Apr 26, 2009
    #3
  4. G. Morgan

    PeeCee Guest

    "G. Morgan" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > PeeCee wrote:
    >
    >>"G. Morgan" <> wrote in message
    >>news:...
    >>> http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150340223444

    >>
    >>
    >>
    >>http://www.elstonsystems.com/prod/hard_drive_recovery_card.html

    >
    > That sounds interesting, how does it work?
    >




    There is a link to the Manual at the bottom of the page.
    I would say the Manual writers primary language is not English but if you
    read it you should get the idea.

    What it essentially does is intercept modifications to a file and keeps the
    original file plus a file containing the changes to the file.
    On reboot you can then opt to go back to the unmodified version 'or' the
    modified one.
    The manual doesn't make it clear but I read it will only offer a 'whole'
    disk state restore option, not a file by file choice.

    To my mind it's primary use would be in an envronment where you need to take
    the PC back to a known state regularly.
    An Internet Cafe would seem an obvious example to me.
    Another would be a set of PC's in a classroom that have to be restored in
    order to negate the mods teenage wizkids are won't to make when showing just
    how 'brilliant' they are.

    I would point out that the card is unlikely to be of any use when a hard
    drive starts dying as any data on a corrupt sector is going to be just that
    'corrupt'
    In otherwords the card is 'no' substitute for a data backup system.

    Best
    Paul.
     
    PeeCee, Apr 26, 2009
    #4
  5. G. Morgan

    G. Morgan Guest

    PeeCee wrote:

    >There is a link to the Manual at the bottom of the page.
    >I would say the Manual writers primary language is not English but if you
    >read it you should get the idea.


    It said what it "does" but not how it works. (I couldn't find it anyway)


    >What it essentially does is intercept modifications to a file and keeps the
    >original file plus a file containing the changes to the file.
    >On reboot you can then opt to go back to the unmodified version 'or' the
    >modified one.
    >The manual doesn't make it clear but I read it will only offer a 'whole'
    >disk state restore option, not a file by file choice.


    But it also said it undoes FDISK, Format, and BIOS changes. Methink this may
    be magic jellybeans. :)

    >
    >To my mind it's primary use would be in an envronment where you need to take
    >the PC back to a known state regularly.
    >An Internet Cafe would seem an obvious example to me.
    >Another would be a set of PC's in a classroom that have to be restored in
    >order to negate the mods teenage wizkids are won't to make when showing just
    >how 'brilliant' they are.


    Yeah, for a public kiosk type PC I could see a use for that. If I ran a kiosk
    like that I'd probably automate a fresh re-image every day instead.


    >I would point out that the card is unlikely to be of any use when a hard
    >drive starts dying as any data on a corrupt sector is going to be just that
    >'corrupt'
    >In otherwords the card is 'no' substitute for a data backup system.


    Yeah, but this thing sounds too good to be true... especially for $1, I doubt
    it really works worth a damn anyhow.
     
    G. Morgan, Apr 26, 2009
    #5
  6. G. Morgan

    VanguardLH Guest

    G. Morgan wrote:

    > http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150340223444


    It creates a file which is a container for a virtual hard drive. Writes
    to the real drive are redirected to the virtual drive. When you reboot,
    the virtual drive is discarded (or overwritten) so you start from
    scratch. Your real drive in its current state is the baseline state,
    writes are redirected to the virtual disk, and on reboot the baseline
    state is restored. This is how the software virtualization utilities
    work, too, like Returnil, DeepFreeze, ShadowStor, and SteadyState.

    If there is a mechanical problem with the hard disk, like troubles
    reading sectors, that causes file corruption then the file used for the
    container for the virtual drive can also get equally corrupted. While a
    reboot would eradicate the changes stored in the virtual drive, the
    corruption would recur on the container file which means you end up with
    corrupted files within the virtual drive.

    Its firmware within the chips on the PCB does in hardware what the
    software virtualization products do. Because it similarly creates a
    container file for the virtual drive, it must understand the file system
    for the partition in which it creates the container file. This card
    says it supports MS file systems, like FAT and NTFS. That means you
    cannot use it to do similar virtualization for a Linux partition. It
    uses a driver to perform the write redirects. Presumably it runs as a
    kernel-mode drivers to perform file I/O. The question becomes whether
    this driver only handles intercepts of system API calls which means any
    program that directly modifies the files will cause problems (but then
    it is unlikely you'll get such utilities to run within NT-based versions
    of Windows but you could under DOS and 9x-based Windows).

    I sincerely doubt their claim "No hard disk performance loss".
    Additonal stacking of file I/O handlers always incurs a performance
    penalty. It is also unlikely that the hardware on this PCB matches the
    top-end hardware used in gaming or high-performance hosts so its code to
    handle the file I/O in its firmware won't be as fast as the hardware in
    the host.

    That they call it a "recovery" card is misleading. It doesn't recover
    anything. It protects the OS partition by redirecting writes to a
    virtual drive inside a file container on the existing hard drive. When
    you reboot, those changes are lost and you start from the baseline state
    again (your hard drive + new virtual drive). SteadyState, Returnil, and
    other software-based virtualization utilities don't recover anything
    another than *return* the host back to its baseline state. Think of it
    as a System Restore on steroids but with only one snapshot (i.e., you
    get to make changes to the virtual drive but you only back to the
    baseline state on reboot if you elect to do so, and you don't get to
    pick from various states or snapshots saved at different times). You
    move forward your baseline state, like to apply Windows updates, by not
    enabling their virtualization so changes do get saved into the real file
    system, but you have just one snapshot to which you can return.

    I looked at these cards many years ago. I decided against using them
    and just use the free software products to do the same thing. You do
    have to install a driver within this hardware-based virtualization
    product but I suspect that no software needs to be installed. To some,
    this has the advantage of not polluting their OS partition with this
    software. Put on an anti-static strap, power down, open up the case,
    stick in the card, close the case, and power up. Then install their
    driver and you're probably done. It does require that there is an
    available slot which may not be the case since newer mobos have
    typically reduced their slot count due to all onboard functions (audio,
    perhaps video in south bridge, NIC, USB, firewire, etc).

    The Winbond W89C940F chip on their PCB is a LAN controller. That's
    because you can remotely administer those hosts. That wasn't something
    that interested me for the software-based virtualization products so I
    don't which ones provide that feature (but then it probably is
    considered an enterprise function and available on in the payware
    versions of those programs).

    For this hardware product, their manual recommends disabling your
    anti-virus and other anti-malware products and any imaging/ghosting
    programs used for backups. They're incompatible with the virtualization
    used by this hardware product (but I haven't encountered a problem with
    the software products).
     
    VanguardLH, Apr 26, 2009
    #6
  7. wisdomkiller & pain, Apr 26, 2009
    #7
  8. G. Morgan

    PeeCee Guest

    "G. Morgan" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > PeeCee wrote:
    >
    >>There is a link to the Manual at the bottom of the page.
    >>I would say the Manual writers primary language is not English but if you
    >>read it you should get the idea.

    >
    > It said what it "does" but not how it works. (I couldn't find it anyway)
    >
    >
    >>What it essentially does is intercept modifications to a file and keeps
    >>the
    >>original file plus a file containing the changes to the file.
    >>On reboot you can then opt to go back to the unmodified version 'or' the
    >>modified one.
    >>The manual doesn't make it clear but I read it will only offer a 'whole'
    >>disk state restore option, not a file by file choice.

    >
    > But it also said it undoes FDISK, Format, and BIOS changes. Methink this
    > may
    > be magic jellybeans. :)
    >
    >>
    >>To my mind it's primary use would be in an envronment where you need to
    >>take
    >>the PC back to a known state regularly.
    >>An Internet Cafe would seem an obvious example to me.
    >>Another would be a set of PC's in a classroom that have to be restored in
    >>order to negate the mods teenage wizkids are won't to make when showing
    >>just
    >>how 'brilliant' they are.

    >
    > Yeah, for a public kiosk type PC I could see a use for that. If I ran a
    > kiosk
    > like that I'd probably automate a fresh re-image every day instead.
    >
    >
    >>I would point out that the card is unlikely to be of any use when a hard
    >>drive starts dying as any data on a corrupt sector is going to be just
    >>that
    >>'corrupt'
    >>In otherwords the card is 'no' substitute for a data backup system.

    >
    > Yeah, but this thing sounds too good to be true... especially for $1, I
    > doubt
    > it really works worth a damn anyhow.
    >
    >




    Section 3.1 of the Manual has their explanation of how it works.

    My interpretation of how it restores after an Fdisk or format is that when
    you reboot after an Fdisk or Format the card prompts to restore using data
    saved on 'other' parts of the hard drive
    For Fdisk all it has to restore is the partition table, for formatting all
    it has to restore is the FAT or NTFS tables (?), neither of which are
    particularly large.(?)
    For Bios changes you will note section 7.4 explains how it reboots the PC 3
    times in order to collect and store the Bios data.
    The last paragraph of section 7.2explains how it offers to restore the Bios
    when it detects a change from the 'saved' state.

    Internet Kiosk:
    Not once a day but after every user.
    Even back in 2002 when I was in UK the big cafe's (100's of screens) were
    automatically giving each user a 'clean' OS by forcing a restore when your
    time was up.
    (probably easier done with Virtualisation these days)

    To good to be true for $1...
    You won't get it for $1 either they will shill bid or the freight will cover
    the cost.

    The problem I see with the advertising is it appears to imply it's a
    hardware solution like XP's System Restore.
    Unless I'm very mistaken it is not able to handle multiple changes letting
    you choose which change to go back to.

    If I Fdisk C: drive, followed by an install of (eg) Linux followed by an
    Fdisk and an install of Vista, followed by an Fdisk and an install of
    Windows 98 then the only point I can go back to is the point that is 'saved'
    as discussed in section 3.
    This is in the menu that the Card presents when the PC is rebooted.
    (Section 7.2 discusses making this choice automatic every time you reboot,
    I'd call this kiosk mode)

    So in my Linux, Vista, 98 chain above if you don't save the state at any
    other time, your 'saved' state is "pre Fdisk before the Linux install'.
    This is the position you will go back to if you 'restore' at any time in my
    Fd, Linux, Fd, Vista, Fd, 98 chain.
    OTOH if you save the state after Fdisking following the Linux install but
    before Vista, your restore point is an 'Fdisked' hard drive.
    You can not go back to Linux or the Fdisk before 98 or the Fdisk before
    Linux or even Vista.
    If you choose to save after installing Vista then at any time after than
    then you can go back to Vista, but you can not go back any further or to the
    Fdisked state between Vista and 98.

    I'll also bet if you filled the hard drive with files you'd notice a bit
    chunk of HD space was missing because the card would grab it to track data
    changes.

    Hope it makes sense.
    Though if anyone has used one and it does do 'multiple' saved states then
    I'd be very keen to hear.

    BTW I note it recommends putting your Temp Internet and Virtual Memory to
    non protected drives.
    I think this is an indication that once the file numbers and changes start
    to climb there may be significant problems with restorablity.

    Best
    Paul.
     
    PeeCee, Apr 26, 2009
    #8
  9. G. Morgan

    Evan Platt Guest

    On Sun, 26 Apr 2009 07:26:09 -0400, richard <>
    wrote:

    >This is why I do not do ebay for nuthin. To many scams.


    You probably mean "Too many scams".

    I've bought and sold on eBay for over 5 years now. Never a problem.
    --
    To reply via e-mail, remove The Obvious from my e-mail address.
     
    Evan Platt, Apr 26, 2009
    #9
  10. G. Morgan

    VanguardLH Guest

    Oops, sorry Evan. That was meant as a reply to little richard.
     
    VanguardLH, Apr 26, 2009
    #10
  11. G. Morgan

    G. Morgan Guest

    G. Morgan, Apr 27, 2009
    #11
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