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Comodo Time Machine Review

written by: Jeremy Bost•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/22/2011
4

The new, free Comodo Time Machine says it can restore your computer to an earlier point in time with a click of a button. Can it really do this, and will it be helpful?

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    Introduction

    Comodo Time Machine, the final version released early January 2010, is a free program made to help you restore your data from an earlier point-in-time. For example, you installed a new, cool program. Now your computer is very slow, even when you tried to remove that program from your computer. What can you do?

    With Comodo Time Machine (CTM), you can go back to a previous "snapshot" that you scheduled it to make. Now that program is gone, and you are back to when your computer was okay. There are, of course, some problems with this model that will be discussed later.

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    Installation

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    After downloading CTM, I eagerly installed it on a virtual machine (a VM is a "computer" or operating system inside another operating system; see how to set a VM up here) running Windows 7. The first part of the installation finished in under 5 minutes. Then I had to restart, and a second installation ran before Windows booted up. This took about 3 minutes.

    Because a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when you are figuring out whether to get a program, I shall be posting pictures throughout this review. So let's go through the installation:

    Welcome to CTM Installer Installer - EULA Now we will decide where to install CTM.

    Installer - Destination Folder This is the interesting part, not usually in installers:

    Installer - Protected Partition Selection Here you decide which drives/partitions to protect with your snapshots. Since I only have one partition, I don't have much choice.

    Installing CTM So now we wait a bit. Soon we will get a screen asking us whether we should restart now or later. After partly restarting (Windows had shutdown so far but not booted up yet), we get a "pre-boot" screen from CTM:

    Boot-Up Console Installer It seems it has to install some files before Windows starts.

    Soon Windows boots up, and it is time to examine Comodo Time Machine itself (see the next section).

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    Ease-of-Use and GUI

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    Comodo Time Machine is installed and ready to go. When you double-click on the tray icon, you get this nice, simple screen:

    Quick Operation Screen If you want something with more options, click "Advanced."

    CTM Main Screen (Note that you don't get the Quick Operation screen when using the desktop shortcut to open CTM.)

    After exploring/playing with CTM, I feel like the GUI (Graphical User Interface: the appearance) looks quite clean. It doesn't have the Easy and Normal Modes Genie Backup Manager Pro has, but the Quick Operation screen is similar. Of course, often users have different ideas about how the programs should look.

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    Features

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    Whenever I'm thinking about downloading a program, I always want to know its features first. Comodo Time Machine has the features I expected, and a few more.

    1. Take a snapshot. Taking a snapshot of your computer is as easy as 1-2-3. After a few minutes or less, it is done.

      Taking Snapshot 
    2. Restore a snapshot. Restoring snapshot is just as easy. Though there are many ways to do it, I'll use the tab called "Restore System."

      Choosing snapshot Restore System - Reboot Now CTM has to reboot your computer to restore. Before Windows starts up, you see this:
      Restoring Snapshot - Boot Console 
    3. Pre-boot console. Before Windows boots, you have an option to enter a "console" where you can restore your system, in case something you did made Windows not start.
    4. Restore files. Say you want a previous version of a file, and you don't want to restore everything to get it. You can do that with the "Restore Files" tab.

      Recover Files - Search Upon clicking next, it will search for files with that name. I personally don't care much for this method, so that is why I like this next feature.
    5. Mount snapshots. To "mount" a snapshot is to "pretend" that it is a separate hard drive, so you can browse through it and copy the files you want. To do this, go to the "View Snapshots" tab and right-click a file, then click "Mount." It will then show up in a list of your drives (Start > [My] Computer).

      Mount a Snapshot - Right Click 
    6. Schedule tasks. You can schedule a snapshot to be made or restored at a certain time.

      Schedule a task 
    7. Synchonize folders/files between restores. This is a very important part, because you don't want your important files to be lost after a restore, do you? With this option, the files or folders you select will not be changed after a restore. In my opinion, this is important and shouldn't have been "buried" in the other settings:

      Sync Files - Settings Screen Sync Files - Select Files 

    There are a some less important features not mentioned here, including right-click context menu buttons, but I believe the main ones have been covered.

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    Conclusion

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    Before we close, I want to mention something you need to know: Comodo Time Machine will not protect you if your hard drive crashes. It isn't that type of program. (Programs that make "images" of your computer, and put them on another hard drive, can protect you if your drive crashes. Acronis True Image and Comodo Backup do these. But the images can take much longer to make than a snapshot, so there are advantages with each.)

    In addition, CTM currently may not work when an image is restored ("currently" is January 9th, 2010).

    But even with these two issues, I believe Comodo Time Machine is a great program, especially because it is free.