Home Users Have It
Tougher"> But for home users and small businesses, things are harder. Its not practical, for reasons of cost and expertise, for them to set up a robust imaging system. As a result, as with so many other areas of computing, theyre stuck with the sub-optimal solutions. Even if they spent the money for the network hardware, home users couldnt really do images the way enterprises do. The right way is to use a base install image, in combination with necessary device drivers and a tool named sysprep, to effectively automate an installation of the operating system along with needed applications and other files. This is out of any home users or small business league.Restoring an image from such a setup involves booting off the Ghost CD and restoring the most recent image known to be safe. This can be a difficult decision of course, but theres no way around it. If you go back to an old burned image, you might lose documents. Im not sure what the best way to solve the home user issue is, but it needs to be solved. In an era of rootkits, you just cant trust cleanups. Probably some variation of the Ghost and external drive I mentioned is the best choice, although it is a complicated option. It also has the advantage of being a real backup solution, with access to individual files if necessary. Another option for home users is System Restore, which takes a snapshot of the operating system and user customizations periodically and at important events, like application installs. Unfortunately, its not completely trustworthy; its possible for malware to mess directly with the backups, and it doesnt clean up some areas of the system, like the inbox. Rootkits have been around a long time and affected UNIX long before they affected Windows. I dont blame Microsoft for malware that ruins a system to the point that its hard to clean up reliably. Any badly administered system can be put in the same position. If I blame Microsoft for anything, its for focusing most of its solutions in this area on the enterprise. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.
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What they can do is use a tool like Norton Ghost and cheap external storage to store a known good image of an installed system. A huge external USB hard drive can be purchased for as little as $100 and, with Ghost set to re-image periodically, provides the most practical backup system around. Periodically it might make sense to burn an image to a CD-R or DVD-R.