Hi All (Very long post warning),
Sorry for the delay in replying.
Q: “Thank you very much for your explanations. I have a question about what the computer sees as an unmounted drive. Does it see the drive as being unmounted when Returnil is turned off or just after I check the "unmount virtual drive" box and go through the subsequent steps?”
ANS: Glad I could help. A great deal of the vision we have for the future development of Returnil is helping as many as we can to learn the basics about virtualization and how it can help in their security strategy. You will begin to see where we are going with our development following the first generation 3x release which is in internal beta testing now…
Now to answer the actual question: no, and I will try to make this as easy as I can to follow. This will take a bit to explain as there are some things here that will require some prerequisites so please bear with me:
RVS is currently made up of three component “parts”: 1) The GUI (Graphical User Interface), 2) The System Protection feature, and 3) The Virtual Partition. The GUI lets you interact with the other two parts of the program with the other two being independent of one another. This means that the VP will work with or without the System Protection and visa-versa. Further, 2 and 3 will function regardless of whether the GUI is on or off and the independence of the GUI is why this would make no difference to whether the VP is mounted (open) or dismounted (closed).
When the VP is dismounted, it is a very large file with empty space on the System Partition (by default) or the same on another drive or partition (2.0.1). When it is mounted, and the VP is installed in its default location, it is no longer a file, but a “local drive” and appears as an immovable block in your defragger (assuming some sort of graphical display). The best approach is to exclude it from defragmentation when dismounted and to defragment it as a separate drive when mounted (i.e., you defragment what is inside of the VP rather than trying to defragment the VP itself).
Q1: “I'm still also a little unclear as to this partition versus virtual drive concept, too.”
ANS: This is an entirely different topic if you are referring to the difference between the Virtual Partition and the Virtual System. The VP is simply a large file with special properties and a convenience feature for those with a single partition on their drives (i.e., C:\). Think of it as a virtual cubby-hole where you can store data and files when RVS protection is on so that it is not lost at restart.
The Virtual System is the entirety of what RVS does to create a clone of your Real System Partition. In essence it consists of the clone which is created and tracked within the cache. The cache can be thought of as RVS’s notebook.
Q2: “Sorry, Coldmoon, but I got a little lost in your explanation….”
ANS: I hope the above helps to clear some of this up. If not, let me know…
Q3: “Also, I may start another thread on partitioning. I've been relunctant to partition, partly because I'm not sure what sizes to make things… Coldmoon, I'm curious how you came up with the numbers you recommended to Frique. Is there a set magic number, like 40G that you like for Frique's situation (I assume he's running XP?) or is there a perferred ratio?”
ANS: No magic and not optimized. I used some very loose numbers based more on practice and experience with business computers over the years. The 40 GB has been a standard HDD size in the past and also provides a good compromise between the room Windows needs now and what it may need in the future. It also makes defragmentation of that partition faster when the defragger only needs to go through 40 GB, rather than hundreds of GBs. You might try taking some time and reading through threads that discuss partitioning at the Wilders security forums. Here is a wide range of discussions that detail various ways to configure your hard drive, Windows, data, and programs.
NOTE: Many topics are advanced so do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions…