Prevent End-User System Changes With Deep Freeze Part I

End users tinkering with their desktop PCs can be a major headache for the help desk. But now there is a way to make end-user damage disappear by simply rebooting the PC, thanks to a product called Deep Freeze from Faronics Technologies. Version 6.2 has been certified by Microsoft with their official "Works with Windows Vista" designation.

How Deep Freeze works
Although Deep Freeze is a desktop lockdown utility, it operates differently than other such products. Instead of actively preventing end-user changes, Deep Freeze runs passively in the background. Users are free to make any changes to the system that they like. They can install programs, delete files, and change Windows settings. When the system is rebooted, though, all of the changes are undone and the system is restored to the state at which Deep Freeze was installed.

How does Deep Freeze accomplish this?
According to Vik Khanna, director of sales for Faronics Technologies, once Deep Freeze is installed it "freezes" all the used space on a particular hard drive partition. No permanent changes can then be made to that partition unless Deep Freeze is disabled or uninstalled or Deep Freeze Professional’s ThawSpace feature is used.

Just how Deep Freeze manages to lock a partition’s contents, Khanna wouldn’t say-to protect Deep Freeze’s patent-pending technology. The process does not, however, involve any imaging of the hard drive; in fact, Khanna touts Deep Freeze as an alternative to the repeated imaging that is often performed on open-environment computers, such as those found in school computer labs or corporate training classrooms.

But Deep Freeze’s power doesn’t come without a price. No permanent changes can be made to a partition once it has been frozen-including saving files. If a user saves a file to a "frozen" C: drive, it will be lost once the machine is rebooted-this includes information saved in Outlook PST files and Internet Explorer Favorites. Any programs that automatically save information to the frozen drive will need to be configured so they use an alternative location, such as a network drive or separate hard drive partition. Help desks must also configure their PCs to boot from the hard drive first for Deep Freeze to be totally effective. Otherwise, individuals would be able to boot from a floppy and bypass Deep Freeze.