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Light Virtualization Software Review and Guide: Shadow Defender

By: Tasos Laurentiadis | Security & Backup in Software | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 1:50 pm
TweakTown Rating: 98%Manufacturer: Shadow Defender

Software Usage Part 1 - Mode Setting


Mode Setting is the second set of options on the left of the main SD window. This is one of the most important parts of the program, the place where users can define which volumes will be protected. Select it and this screen will be shown:




There is a RAM used as Write Cache feature here as well. If your system has an adequate helping of RAM, you can assign a part of it to be used for the SD write cache. The benefits of this are obvious. When the virtual system runs in RAM the whole process will be faster and your protected volumes won't take any write hits until you choose to manually commit data to them (more on that later). This is especially beneficial to devices like SSDs, memory cards, flash sticks etc.


No disk hits also means no disk traces of deleted data left behind. It all stays in RAM and gets flushed at the next reboot, which is perfect for the more paranoid among us. Where is my tinfoil hat...?


When adding a RAM value, remember to always leave enough RAM available for the system. For example: If your system has 4GB of RAM (which translates to 4096MB), you can assign 1024MB for the SD write cache and leave the rest for Windows. If you only have 2GB of RAM installed you should not use this option. In this case leave the RAM cache at zero (default).


When the assigned RAM cache fills-up the program will automatically switch back to disk buffering mode. Personally I keep a close eye on Shadow Defender's RAM cache usage (through the System Status screen), making sure to reboot the system before the RAM cache fills-up completely. This way the program never switches into disk buffering mode and my SSDs don't get any write hits while in Shadow Mode.


Let's return to the Current volume status list. All volumes are ticked by default, ready to be placed in Shadow Mode. It is up to the user to decide which volumes to put under Shadow Mode at any given time; just untick the ones you don't want to protect at this point.


As a rule I usually enable Shadow Mode only for C: in order to protect my Windows partition from any changes. This way I can still save my data on my other volumes and those changes will not be undone when I reboot. I have already moved my User folders to a non-protected volume; so any changes I make to those frequently modified folders will always stick regardless if C: is in Shadow Mode or not. Details on how to move the User folders to a different disk/partition have been provided within the LV/IRS technology introduction article. The introduction contains a comprehensive list of other useful Light Virtualization tips as well.


Once you untick the volumes that you want to exclude from SD protection, you can then click the Schedule button, which will affect all volumes that remain ticked. Two options will drop down. The first one is Enter Shadow Mode on Boot. This option will schedule Shadow Mode to auto-start for all ticked volumes every time the computer starts. Scheduled SD protection for ticked volumes won't kick-in until you restart the computer.


The second option on the Schedule drop-down list is Exit Shadow Mode on Shutdown. This essentially undoes the previous option: It disables the scheduling of Shadow Mode for any ticked volumes.


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