Images Events Jobs Premium Services Media Kit Network Map E-mail Offers Vendor Solutions Webcasts
IT Management Webcasts:
The Role of Security in IT Service Management

Preparing for an IT Audit

More Webcasts

Search EarthWeb Network

Be a Commerce Partner
Cell Phones
Logo Design
Promote Your Website
Computer Deals
GPS Devices
Send Text Messages
KVM Switch over IP
Calling Cards
Data Center Solutions
Memory Upgrades
Server Racks
Find Software
Boat Donations

Linked Data Planet Conference & Expo

IT Management : Columns : Executive Tech: Trash Your Drive? Now You Can Have a Do-Over


Download: Solaris 8 Migration Assistant
Rapidly move your Solaris 8 application environments to new systems running Solaris 10 with the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant. Reduce migration risk while taking advantage of increased performance, reliability and security of the latest SPARC hardware platforms and Solaris 10 OS. Click here »


Install What You Need with Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 is Microsoft's most full-featured server operating system yet, so it's ironic that one of its most exciting new features is an install option that cuts out most of the other features. Paul Rubens explores why a Server Core installation makes a great deal of sense in many instances. »

Identify Hardware and Software That Meet Microsoft Standards
The "Certified for Windows. Server 2008" logo identifies hardware and software solutions that meet Microsoft standards for compatibility and best practices with the Windows Server 2008 operating system. »

Windows Server Catalog: Certified Hardware Devices
Search the Windows Server 2008 catalog to find solutions to deploy with confidence. »

Windows Server Catalog: Certfied Servers
Search the Windows Server 2008 catalog to find servers you can deploy with confidence. »

Download the Windows Server 2008 Trial
With Windows Server 2008 you can develop, deliver, and manage rich user experiences and applications, provide a secure network infrastructure, and increase technological efficiency and value within your organization. »

Related Articles
Are You Wasting Backup Time?
Fix Windows Without Patching
Pop-ups Are Coming to Screens Near You
How Many Pop-ups Can a Pop-up Stopper Stop?
In PCs, Silence is Golden
What's Protecting Your Open-Access PCs?
- ITSMWatch Newsletter -
Tech Focus: Security

Cybersecurity: Laws Only Go So Far

Mozilla Firefox vs. Internet Explorer: Which is Safer?

Is Your Blog Leaking Trade Secrets?

The Las Vegas Counterfeiting Story: Is Your Privacy Worth More Than a Poker Chip?

Stopping Spammers at The Point of Sale

Product Watch
IOGEAR KVM - Includes Audio/Peripheral Sharing
Coverity Prevent / Coverity Thread Analyzer - Analyze Source Code For Defects, Security Vulnerabilities
USSD Series - SDRAM-Based Solid State Drives to 256 GB
UltraSMS - Send SMS From Your PC
Sentinel Sensors - Wi-Fi Based Temperature Monitoring Especially For Cold Storage

more products >>

Datamation Definitions
data mining
grid computing
network appliance
FREE Tech Newsletters

Deliver presentations to hundreds of people at a time using the Internet. No travel or conference space needed. GoToWebinar makes the mass delivery of your message fast, easy and intuitive. Try GoToWebinar FREE.

Trash Your Drive? Now You Can Have a Do-Over
March 15, 2004
By Brian Livingston

Brian Livingston In these days of endless network attacks from the Internet, we're constantly told that we should install the latest fixes from Microsoft and other software vendors as quickly as possible. But we're also told that we should test these patches before we roll them out to the hundreds or thousands of PCs in our companies, in case an update wrecks one of our mission-critical programs.

So which is it? Distribute updates immediately or test thoroughly?

Now there's a way you can install the most elaborate upgrade, try out the strangest configuration, even experiment on your PCs with the latest virus — and then return your test PC to its original state with the push of a button. You no longer have to fear that whatever you're testing will make a machine unusable or subject you to hours of manual uninstalls.

An Instant Do-Over That's the Size of a Breadbox

This capability comes in the form of the Mulligan Test Lab from Voom Technologies Inc., a small firm based in Lakeland, Minnesota. The Mulligan, named after a muffed golf shot that everyone in your party agrees to let you shoot again, is a box the size of a small PC. You run a cable from an ATA hard drive in your test machine to the Mulligan, and another cable from the Mulligan to the machine's motherboard. The external device, which you can carry from PC to PC for multiple tests if desired, requires no drivers in the host machine.

When you install software on the target PC, or make other changes to its hard disk, the Muligan intercepts the disk writes and saves them on its own internal drive. From that point on, the host PC reads any unchanged data from its own drive, but any requests for sectors that contain modified data are served seamlessly by the Mulligan drive.

Here's the beauty part: If you don't like the results of whatever change you made, you simply press a Leave-No-Trace button on the Mulligan (or detach the cables) and the PC's hard drive remains unchanged, as though nothing had ever happened. On the other hand, if the modification was successful, you push the Commit-Changes button and the updates are quickly written to the PC's disk as if the Mulligan had never been present at all.

How To Use Your New Omnipotence

Once you have the ability to experiment with PC changes — free from the fear that you won't be able to undo them — your mind can dream up a wide variety of uses for this slick little box:

Finally, Carefree Testing. This is perhaps the first and most obvious application that comes to mind. Go ahead and install every new patch and service pack that the fertile brains at Microsoft can devise. No matter how bad the side-effects might be, you can immediately reverse any installation. If so, you might decide to implement a workaround suggested by Microsoft for a particular security threat, rather than installing a full upgrade.

Training. Once you've accomplished a perfect configuration on which to train your employees, plug a Mulligan into each PC and let your trainees come in and bang away on them. Anything the trainees did over a period of days, weeks, or months can immediately be wiped out and the original configuration restored.

Virus Investigations. You no longer need to worry about exposing a stand-alone PC to even the most virulent Trojan horse or worm. Once you've examined a virus to analyze its behavior, you can remove every trace of it with the press of a button.

Using a Hardware Approach vs. Installing Software

The Mulligan is unique in being entirely hardware-based, says Voom CEO David Biessener. "Right now, Mulligan competes only with software, like VMWare, or any kind of software 'push-out' product that pushes out disk images, like Ghost," he explains.

Unlike PC go-back solutions, such as FSLogic's Protect 1.0, which I reviewed in January, the Mulligan requires the installation of no software. The device, however, is more expensive per unit — listing for $1,495, compared with $80 per workstation for Protect or $299 for VMWare — although few corporations would choose to attach a Mulligan to every PC.

The device also works only with IDE hard drives, although the company promises that a Serial ATA version will be available this year.


The Mulligan is so new, with no mention of it in any major media before today, that it's not in stores yet and must be purchased directly from its manufacturer. CEO Biessener says that'll change soon, but in the meantime, visit the Voom Web site for information on how to order.

Voom also makes the so-called ShadowDrive, a $1,295 unit designed for computer forensics investigators who must be able to examine a PC without making any changes to its drive, and Instant Save Instant Restore (ISIR), a $150 add-in board that provides a PC with an instant roll-back capability to its last good configuration. ISIR competes with CoreRestore, a similar board from Core Protect Inc.

Biessener says he's already received one U.S. patent for the technology that underlies Mulligan, with four other patents pending — so it's anyone's guess how soon you'd be able to buy anything similar from another company.

Brian Livingston is the editor of and the co-author of Windows Vista Secrets and 10 other books. Send story ideas to him via his contact page. To subscribe free and receive Executive Tech via e-mail, visit our signup page.

Add to your favorites
Add to your browser search box
IE 7 | Firefox 2.0 | Firefox 1.5.x
Receive news via our XML/RSS feed

Executive Tech Archives



Jupitermedia Corporation has two divisions: Jupiterimages and JupiterOnlineMedia

Jupitermedia Corporate Info

Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy.

Advertise | Newsletters | Tech Jobs | Shopping | E-mail Offers

Whitepapers and eBooks
Microsoft Article: Will Hyper-V Make VMware This Decade's Netscape?
Microsoft Article: 7.0, Microsoft's Lucky Version?
Microsoft Article: Hyper-V--The Killer Feature in Windows Server 2008
Avaya Article: How to Feed Data into the Avaya Event Processor
Microsoft Article: Install What You Need with Windows Server 2008
HP eBook: Putting the Green into IT
Whitepaper: HP Integrated Citrix XenServer for HP ProLiant Servers
Intel Go Parallel Portal: Interview with C++ Guru Herb Sutter, Part 1
Intel Go Parallel Portal: Interview with C++ Guru Herb Sutter, Part 2--The Future of Concurrency
Avaya Article: Setting Up a SIP A/S Development Environment
IBM Article: How Cool Is Your Data Center?
Microsoft Article: Managing Virtual Machines with Microsoft System Center
HP eBook: Storage Networking , Part 1
Microsoft Article: Solving Data Center Complexity with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
Intel Video: Are Multi-core Processors Here to Stay?
On-Demand Webcast: Five Virtualization Trends to Watch
HP Video: Page Cost Calculator
Intel Video: APIs for Parallel Programming
HP Webcast: Storage Is Changing Fast - Be Ready or Be Left Behind
Microsoft Silverlight Video: Creating Fading Controls with Expression Design and Expression Blend 2
Downloads and eKits
Sun Download: Solaris 8 Migration Assistant
Sybase Download: SQL Anywhere Developer Edition
Red Gate Download: SQL Backup Pro and free DBA Best Practices eBook
Red Gate Download: SQL Compare Pro 6
Iron Speed Designer Application Generator
Tutorials and Demos
How-to-Article: Preparing for Hyper-Threading Technology and Dual Core Technology
eTouch PDF: Conquering the Tyranny of E-Mail and Word Processors
IBM Article: Collaborating in the High-Performance Workplace
HP Demo: StorageWorks EVA4400
Intel Featured Algorhythm: Intel Threading Building Blocks--The Pipeline Class
Microsoft How-to Article: Get Going with Silverlight and Windows Live