Windows

Get Windows SteadyState for managing shared Windows XP computers

If you manage shared, standalone, or workgroup computers -- such as those in schools, Internet cafes, libraries, or even your home -- Greg Shultz wants to introduce you to a new tool from Microsoft called Windows SteadyState.

If you manage shared, standalone, or workgroup computers -- such as those in schools, Internet cafes, libraries, or even your home -- you'll want to investigate a new tool from Microsoft called Windows SteadyState. This free download, specifically designed for Windows XP, is the successor to the Shared Computer Toolkit. You can lock down any computer with various levels of access and protect the hard disk from any changes, including software installations, viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Windows SteadyState uses restricted user accounts to lock down the access levels; however, in order to protect the hard disk, Windows SteadyState creates a "sandbox" environment that allows users to make whatever changes they want or need to the system. Upon rebooting the computer, Windows SteadyState resets the hard disk and operating system to its original configuration, completely obliterating any changes.

For more detailed information about this great tool, check out the demos on Microsoft's Windows SteadyState page.

Note: This tip is for both Windows XP Home and Professional.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

18 comments
smjack813
smjack813

Hey sorry for replying late here. But as Microsoft has phased out the Steadystate, we were using the Faronics Deep Freeze from that day. Its working good for us. When you're working in a High School with 700+ devices, you don't want to be re-imaging the machines every time there's an issue. Reboots fix almost everything here, including virus infections, malware, corrupt system files, and kiddies attempting to break (software) things. I'm not marketing their product but sharing my experience.

richard.j.mccormick
richard.j.mccormick

Is this tool similar to Sandboxie? It appears to be an exploit of another program.

lweight
lweight

As an "accidental IT" person responsible for managing and maintaining aproximately 40 computers (as well as servers) in a public library since 1997, I have used several desktop lockdown programs, including an earlier version from Microsoft that was distributed a few years ago with the Gates Foundation computer grants. The best product far and away is DeepFreeze (http://www.faronics.com/html/deepfreeze.asp). They make versions for Mac and Linux as well and have a version that they say works with Vista now. Schools and libraries can purchase (no-it is not free, but free is not always best...)licenses at very reasonable pricing. Faronics has been a very good company to deal with, the product is easy to install and configure, and so far (using DeepFreeze for several years now) I have not had any PC compromised in any way by any patron. We even allow patrons to attach USB devices, cameras, and other flash memory devices. Whenever the PC is restarted, anything they have done is gone and the unit is restored to its original configuration. And no, I don't get anything out of recommending DeepFreeze. But a company that just keeps going along making and supporting a good product is sort of unusual these days and it is nice to be able to point them out, since most of the time we only hear about negatives.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

My virus scanner is running along with my CD writer and all of my installed programs.You can click in the security and reboot restrictions.You create a user account then reboot and log in to the new user.For my use,now,I shut off all restrictions and went for a cleared account at reboot.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

I'm wondering if I can use this shared configuration to surf the web,download and try software.When I'm done the computer is returned to its original configuration.This might also be good for studying Internet danger zones or even for coverts.It would be real cool to be able to store my configuration on a CD or in a memory stick.

smarks51599
smarks51599

I have worked extensively with Clean Slate 5. It is a very good and stable program. To my knowledge, no one has hacked it. It also allows Windows Updates and anti-virus to update automatically. www.Fortresgrand.com

uu22_1978
uu22_1978

I also used DeepFreeze in my internet cafe and it's good. The only problem you have to deal with is it's incompatibilities to antivirus software though you don't need them. lol. If you need to upgrade your system there is an option to disable the tool when it restarts. It's good. I recommend it.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...Microsoft introduced a new feature in Windows Vista called Multiple Local Group Policy, which allows you to set different policies for different users on a stand-alone system. For more information see my article: Taking advantage of Windows Vista?s Multiple Local Group Policy feature http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=502

wellsd
wellsd

You mean like a tool to try vista decide that it was the worst mistake that could have ever been unleashed upon your system and the all you have to do is reboot to get rid of the crappy "OS". (wouldn't that be a useful utility) But alas no such tool exists (other than virtualization software) But more to the point of the actual question. I am not currently aware of any such utility to give Vista the SharedState type of function. And I would assume that like every other program that is useful, that the XP version will most likely not work with Vista. But hey you may try it. It?s not like it could hurt the function of Vista if you are by some miracle able to install it.

eddie.navarro
eddie.navarro

I am planning to setup a small Intenet Cafe and the reason why I'm asking about the Windows SteadyState was it will be useful in restoring the original settings afeter the previous user has logged off. I haven't really fully explored Vista but do you think the Multiple Local Group Policy will solve my problem?

Mond0
Mond0

Every time the word "vista" appears the flameshooters come out. I thought we were a community of professionals, not a wad or knee-jerk reactionaries. So, let's climb down from the top of our little flag poles and put our heads together. It would be far more productive to try and come up with solutions, work-arounds, tips and tricks instead of "I hate Vista, too!"

rosshiuk
rosshiuk

glad I am not alone in disliking vista, I'll stick with xp pro. there was a great virtullization program for when you were on the net, (ie or firefox) callrf greenborder but google bought them up, google are rumoured to be using it in a security package to make surfin safer, we'll have to wait and see. STICK WITH XP, BIN THE VISTA!!!

fewiii
fewiii

No, I'm not a big fan of Vista, but it will only get better as we tip, trick, and tweak, NOT gripe, moan, and groan. AND make sure Microsoft hears us...

Mond0
Mond0

Glad that you see the humor in this. I bet the forums make you LMAO. I use Linux and Windows on a daily basis (I have to know them for my job) so I get to see both sides of the story. And, yes, there are fanatics on either side of the fence. But these individuals add nothing to the knowledgebase except white noise. (at least yours was pink :)

sprdave32
sprdave32

sorry I just couldn't resist...

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