Here's hoping I am using the correct venue to ask my question, and that I'm not too long. Here's hoping you will help.
I have windows 7 pro - I have several very expensive programs and important files, and uncountable hours of setups - I can't risk doing it over. I really need to start logging all software installations - everything - registry additions/changes - directory & file additions/changes - etc. If something breaks, I need information to repair with (not withstanding I can do a backup and restore, maybe). I used to have a nifty little program that did this nicely for me in win 98 but I don't remember it's name or where I can get it today if I could remember it's name - it was a very small program - I can't program myself anymore cause of the injuries - I get confused. Also, I noticed the registry in win 7 appears different than in win XP, which is a complication I hadn't expected.
I could be all wet, but I understand that windows logs the information but also deletes the information. Likewise, I understand that temporary directories contain the information - but I do not know how to save it before windows deletes it, if that is the case. I know a lot about older windows but not the latest releases. Think I may be doing something wrong, looking in the wrong place or not doing something I should be doing before the install? (I was injured in 1969 and again during my graduate year in engineering, and I became a bit slow.) I would like to use windows own software to accomplish this simple but seemingly monumental task. Maybe windows administrative programs would be of help but I don't know where to look for the right stuff. I am reticent to use third party software as my experience is that it causes as many problems it may fix - or maybe I don't have reliable third party software. When windows becomes slow, gets buggy after an install, it's a bummer because diagnostics are limited and it's been years since I used a prompt (don't recall key commands), so that would be a last resort.
PLEASE, can you help me? email me? or post a fix and let me know - anything that would help me out. I cannot afford a genuine backup solution until well after the holidays as I am a housebound disabled veteran and my income is a bit limited (my network upgrade cost a bundle as did our several computers and server what with isolation transformers and uninterpretables). So, knowing how to make a free installation log, would be swell, like strawberries and real whipped cream. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.
You're trying to re-invent the wheel and make things way more complex than they need to be in the process.
The program setup files have all the information about what it does to the system already in there. If it's built using an MSI file, you can use a tool like Orca to read the msi and see everything it does to the system. You can also use an installer tool like WISE to watch for system changes. You run a scan before installing a program, then again after it's installed, changes are placed in a nice database for you.
Windows has restore points it creates, or tries to, whenever system changes like software installations take place. If anything goes wrong, go back to an earlier restore point. Or you can manually create a restore point when you install something.
There are a dozen good free backup programs, including full drive imaging software. The only thing you need to get is storage for the backups.