Picture Taker

Move files between systems with this snapshot utility

Have you ever wanted to take a snapshot of your system's configuration before installing a new package so you can see exactly what the installation changed on your system? Would you like to easily move Web downloads from your system at work to your home system, or vice-versa? PictureTaker, from LANovation, lets you accomplish these tasks.

PictureTaker monitors your system and captures changes to your system's configuration. Using this information, you can find and fix Windows application problems, back up all or part of your personal computer's configuration, and even share software with another computer.

PictureTaker's operation is simple. You take a snapshot of your system's configuration information (files, directories, shortcuts, Registry settings, INI files, etc.) and store this information as a picture file in Portable Windows Format (PWF). The picture file is the foundation for all of PictureTaker's subsequent operations. For instance, if you want to review a program's Registry settings, you simply review the picture file to determine what the settings are.

The real power of PictureTaker comes when you use a picture file created during a previous session to compare with your system's current configuration. This process creates a change file, which is stored in Portable Windows Change (PWC) file format. You can use information in the change file to install software on another computer system. For instance, you can create a picture file, install a copy of Office 97, and then create a change file. The change file lets you install Office 97 on another computer without physically having the Office 97 CD-ROM. The potential for this feature is tremendous, especially for distributing new applications over the Web or over your company's intranet.

PWC files also let you undo changes to your system caused by installing another software package, perhaps rendering part of your system unusable. For instance, suppose you install a new software package, after which Microsoft Office crashes. If you create a change file, you can see what configuration settings and files the new software installed and quickly track down the source of the Office crash.

Installing PictureTaker is a snap. The software installs on a Windows NT or Windows 95 computer system. Just insert the CD-ROM, run the setup program, answer a few standard questions, and you are ready to start using the software. No reboot is necessary. The software does not install any special services or startup tasks and is only active when you manually launch it.

Using PictureTaker is as easy as installing it. Launching the program from the Start menu yields an application window with four main choices: Take a Picture, Find Changes, Apply/Unapply, and Troubleshoot. Take a Picture is the first option you will want to use--it lets you take a picture of your computer's current settings for later use. You can take many different types of pictures, either by manually choosing one or having the program automatically choose. I opted to have PictureTaker choose. The resulting scanning process on my NT workstation (with an 8GB drive 75 percent full) took 45 minutes. Screen 1 shows the results of my scan.

Once you have a picture file of your system, you can use other features on the PictureTaker switchboard. The Find Changes option lets you compare two picture files, two change files, or your computer and a picture file, to see what differences exist. The Apply/Unapply option lets you apply a picture or change file. Applying a picture file is similar to performing a system restore, while applying a change file is more like installing software. Finally, the Troubleshoot option lets you compare your system with a picture file and restore any changed settings to their base picture settings.

PictureTaker comes on CD-ROM and includes a manual; however, if you want to save a few bucks, you can purchase the electronic version with no CD-ROM or manual direct from LANovation's Web site. The price is reasonable, given the features the product includes and the time it can save you down the road. For more networkwide applications, LANovation offers an Enterprise Edition. Trial versions of both are available on LANovation's Web site.

Contact: LANovation * 612-379-3805
Web: http://www.lanovation.com
Price: >$79 (Personal Edition)
System Requirements: Windows NT or Windows 95
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