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.
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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.