Have you ever needed to lock down a computer for public or shared multiple user use? Have you Ever needed to lock down computers in a non server non centralized environment? I was recently tasked with locking computers down for public use in computer labs at a conference.
It is a challenge to know what users may or may not have changed after using a shared computer. My users needed permission to make changes to the hard drive and or applications during computer use. However I did not want these changes to be permanent.
Some of the problems I have seen from users of shared computers are: spy ware, viruses, the windows theme completely changed, downloaded programs installed, a corrupt OS and more. It takes time to reload an OS or re-image a machine. No one wants to spend time reloading or re-imaging multiple computers if they don’t have to. I discovered a free utility from Microsoft that was exactly what I needed for locking these computers down. It is called Steady State.
Steady State is a tool to lock down shared computers based on users accounts. It allows you to limit user access to software applications, network resources, printers, control panel features, and other such as Internet Explorer. From the administrator account you set the computer the way you want it then lock it down. With this utility the computer will go back to it’s original state after restarting.
Steady State uses Windows Disk Protection (WDP). WDP erases all changes to the OS partition once the computer is restarted. During a users session any changes to the OS partition, program directories, logs and more are saved to cache by WDP. You can set a time interval of when WPD will reset this cache or it will reset automatically on a restart.
Steady State is easy to install and easy to use. Even a non technical person could use this Microsoft utility. You could use Steady State at home to make sure the kids don’t corrupt your computer, in technical training classes, computer labs or anywhere a computer will be used by multple users. This tool allowed me to give my users needed permissions, a consistent environment, and save myself allot of time reloading or re-imaging computers. The best part is it’s free!