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Doing Batch Updates in Salesforce

When I try to do a batch update ( Say I put the objects in a list and then update then together)  and if throws an exception( for what ever the reason may be). How does the update actually work.!
Is there a way to atleast revoke the partial update made and or returns only the IDS of the Object updated.
How can I find out what objects are updated???
I have seen this happen , when I did the batch updates. However small the batch size may be, I always got the exception and ended up in duplicates ( If I try updating the same batch again).
Is there any other alternate solution to push in huge amount of data.!!!