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Worried about installing SP2 on your clients’ XP systems and having a crashing application? Winternals, a provider of Microsoft systems availability and performance solutions, has an SP2 seat belt for you: the Winternals Recovery Manager.

Winternals Software LP’s Winternals Recovery Manager is a well-regarded, scalable, network-enabled systems recovery program. It enables administrators to quickly roll back Windows computers to a “known good” state when SP2 deployments, or other updates, go wrong.

If that sounds familiar, it should. Recovery Manager is similar to Microsoft’s ERD (Emergency Repair Disk) technology and Windows XP’s built-in System Restore program. Symantec also has a popular program, Norton GoBack, with similar functionality.

But those are single-system solutions. Recovery Manager stands out ns that you can use it to save all of your customer’s vital XP, 2000, 2003 and NT system configuration information and Registry files over the network, thus making managing any system failure much easier.

Better still, you can schedule updates over the network without client software using the program’s Recovery Manager Console.

So, for example, you can save all of your client’s systems’ vital settings before installing SP2. Then, if you need to roll back machines to their pre-updated state, you can do it from the program’s Recovery Wizard. Other methods, such as disk imaging and backup technologies can, of course, be used to restore systems, but Recovery Manager should make resetting systems much faster and easier.

This is especially important now since, according to Gartner Inc. research, SP2’s new functionality has created the potential for compatibility issues between the new service pack and already deployed applications.

“In the past, we have seen that service packs can indeed cause problems [for example, Windows NT SP4], and thorough testing is necessary to avoid outages caused by new compatibility issues,” said Michael Silver, vice president and research director at Gartner. “At least 30 percent of enterprises will have at least one application broken by SP2.”

Microsoft has already listed about 50 applications that have issues with SP2. In addition, Microsoft has already had to issue an SP2 hotfix to deal with VPN (virtual private network) problems.

“Windows administrators must balance the need to quickly deploy SP2 for its security enhancements, with the requirement to rigorously test its application compatibility,” Edwin Brasch, president and CEO of Winternals, said in a statement. “Recovery Manager enables prompt and safe deployment by introducing the ability to rapidly recover systems disrupted by compatibility issues.”

Given the problems, we’re already seeing with XP SP2 deployments, resellers rolling out SP2 would be wise to at least consider using Recovery Manager as an update safety belt.

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