Here's How to Make Your Computer Indestructible

Category: Security

According to Faronics, their Deep Freeze software can make your PC or Mac computer indestructible. It does this by 'freezing' your hard drive, so your computer's software and settings can be returned to a pristine state every time you start it up. Let's take a look at how Deep Freeze works, and find out if it's a good solution for you...

What is Deep Freeze?

Deep Freeze by Faronics Corp., is a software solution that lets you restore a computer to a specific state by simply rebooting it. In the company's terms, Deep Freeze "freezes" the computer's configuration so that it cannot be permanently changed by the user or malware.

Any changes made to your hard drive, such as downloads, new software, or changes to system settings will not be permanent. And of course that includes any non-intentional damage done by viruses, spyware or foistware. Faronics refers to the effect of Deep Freeze as "reboot-to-restore" and indeed, it's appears as if your computer is magically returned to a factory-fresh condition every time you turn it on. (Those who have seen the movie "Groundhog Day" might be chuckling at this point, but I digress.)

After Deep Freeze is installed, any data that is written to the "frozen" partition is redirected to a special area. New software can be installed and used, new data files can be created, and new system settings will work. But the "frozen" space is protected against any changes. When the system is rebooted, everything installed, created, or changed during the previous session simply vanishes.
Deep Freeze by Faronics

Can I Save Files or Install New Programs?

Obviously, Deep Freeze also prevents legitimate updates of software. Fear not; just enter the password you created during installation and Deep Freeze will "thaw" the protected partition for you. Then you can make any desired changes, system updates, or apply security patches before "re-freezing" the new configuration.

A user can save data permanently as long as it is saved to a partition other than the one protected by Deep Freeze. A utility called Data Igloo helps you set up alternative locations for files, folders, user profiles, or even registry keys.

Deep Freeze is not a replacement for anti-virus software, as it does not protect computers against malware infections. If a virus infects a machine, it can work its evil until the next time the system is rebooted. But after a reboot, it will be as if the computer was never infected.

Deep Freeze seems a lot like the System Restore function built into Windows, but actually it's quite different. System Restore saves snapshots of your system configuration periodically, but it allows changes. Deep Freeze protects your "ideal" configuration against changes. Also, System Restore does not affect user data files at all, nor do you have to save data to a different partition.

Deep Freeze comes in Standard and Enterprise versions. The Standard version ($48 with free 30-day trial) is good for home users with a single computer. The Enterprise version includes several tools for administrators of multiple computers. For instance, the Enterprise version can be configured to go into "thawed" mode at specified times, enabling software updates during the time window.

System administrators who need to keep many PCs configured consistently seem to like Deep Freeze. Faronics claims that they have 10 million paid licenses, and a customer list that includes Intel, Walmart, GM, Disney, Fedex, and American Airlines. It also seems like an excellent tool for kiosks or public computers, such as in a library or hotel business center. It's not uncommon for miscreants to install a virus, spyware or keylogger on a public computer, hoping to victimize the next person who comes along. But if Deep Freeze is installed, rebooting after each session will wipe the slate clean.

Is Deep Freeze a Good Solution For Home Users?

It does seem that computers get slower over time, and I attribute that to the accumulation of "crud" on the hard drive. Spyware, adware and useless toolbars may be affecting your computer's performance, or slowing down your web surfing. On a Windows system, the registry can collect erroneous and obsolete entries as programs are installed and removed. And so many programs want to run automatically at startup, which tends to make the start time longer and longer.

Deep Freeze can solve this problem by restoring a set of "factory fresh" or "known good" settings on every restart. That means malware infection are wiped away, and the effects of user error or improperly configured software are removed as well.

For home users who are not technically savvy, or computers that are used by children prone to click on anything that moves, Deep Freeze might be a good solution. There is one big caveat, though. If you create or update user files, you will lose those files when the computer is restarted, unless some care is taken. As I mentioned earlier, the Data Igloo utility can be used to direct files to non-system or network drives so they can be retained across reboots. One could also solve this problem by using web-based software such as Gmail or Google Docs, which store your files and folders in the cloud.

For the tech-savvy person who users computers every day to create files on a variety of software programs, Deep Freeze may be more of a hassle than a helper. If that's you, I recommend that you do these two things:

  1. Make a complete backup of your hard drive.
  2. Make sure you have a good antivirus program, preferably one that uses a 'whitelist' approach.
  3. Consider using a sandbox environment when testing new software.

What do you think of Deep Freeze? Would you consider using it? Post your comment or question below…

 
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Most recent comments on "Here's How to Make Your Computer Indestructible"

Posted by:

Lucy
08 Nov 2019

Sounds like it could be a good idea for some, but I wonder how long it will be before Bob starts receiving help messages from readers who have "lost all my new files"?

As with back-ups, relying on remembering to do something manually to save new files might be an issue.

Computers can shut down or reboot unexpectedly, homes lose power ... poof! Files gone.

I think I'll wait before considering.


Posted by:

SharonH
08 Nov 2019

Agree with Lucy. We lose power a lot here, ranging from a few seconds to an hour or more. Don't think this is a good fit for me.
Also "What can go wrong, will go wrong". No thank you, at least not yet.


Posted by:

Zoli
08 Nov 2019

I think this could be a brilliant tool in the right environement. One concern I have is how long before the bad guys figure out how to get around it.


Posted by:

Don Rochon
08 Nov 2019

Sounds great for those who like to try out programs.
I think I’ll give it a try.


Posted by:

bill
08 Nov 2019

Sounds great for public access computers like libraries or training facilities.


Posted by:

Bernard Gray
08 Nov 2019

I went to the website and no where is there a price for the deep freeze program...


Posted by:

John
08 Nov 2019

Seems to be to be just as easy to keep frequent full system backups so you can do a bare metal recovery at any time.


Posted by:

daryl
08 Nov 2019

A long time ago when I used XP I used Returnil (extinct now). It was a similar program to Deep Freeze. Anything I wanted saved I put on a thumbdrive which was only used for that purpose and wasn't in use for anything else. Once a week I rebooted to my real XP, changed bookmarks or installed new programs, etc. and then turned Returnil back on again. I used it for about 3 years and it was awesome! Until I lost my gmail account because I had Returnil on when I changed my password and rebooted without remembering to back it up to the thumbdrive.


Posted by:

jimi pocius
09 Nov 2019

i have a family member with dementia, this would probably be a perfect addition to their computer... thanks for hipping us to this, bob, i may give it a try.
rock on


Posted by:

RandiO
09 Nov 2019

Sounds interesting since I find Windows10/8/7 "SystemRestore" functionality woefully inadequate.
DeepFreeze appears to be a drive/partition "imaging" utility (Acronis TrueImage, comes to mind) with some unique sandboxing and live configurability virtues, but the "vanishing" data part sounds worrisome.


Posted by:

GregC
09 Nov 2019

Thanks Bob,
I had forgotten about Deep Freeze, I had encountered this during a business trip to a hotel about ten years ago. As an experienced user at the time I was intrigued by the power, ease of use and transparency of Deep Freeze. I can highly recommend this product.
I wonder how challenging it is to move newly created data to the "frozen drive" to protect it against ransomware?


Posted by:

Al Jankowski
09 Nov 2019

Does this only freeze the operating system's files? If not, it might help recover from ransomewear as well. If that is so, Cities and hospitals should get it too.


Posted by:

The146%
10 Nov 2019

This sounds a bit like that Drew Barrymore/Ben Stiller movie, 50 First Dates.


Posted by:

James
11 Nov 2019

OK, so is there anything similar for Linux OS ???


Posted by:

Jim
14 Nov 2019

I guess for me Deep Freeze is more for labs and schools; but even then there's free programs like Reboot Restore Rx that do the same exact thing. Why pay for something you can get for free?

Also for home use? That's odd. I mean I don't want to reboot my machine as an instinct and lose data accidentally. A snapshot tool like Comdodo Time Machine or Rollback Rx would be better since then you can still recover the data and move around in time.


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