Make Your Computer Indestructible With Deep Freeze

Category: Security

According to Faronics, their Deep Freeze software can make your computer indestructible. It does this by 'freezing' your software and settings, so your PC or Mac computer 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 damage done by viruses and spyware. 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 whatever changes you desire 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 user data.

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 latter 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. It also seems like an excellent tool for kiosks or public computers, such as in a library. 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 a document or install new software on the "frozen" partition, you will lose those files when the computer is restarted. This would also be a problem for users of desktop email software, because all their email folders would disappear upon reboot. These problems could be solved by using web-based software such as Gmail or Google Docs, which store your files and folders in the cloud. Alternatively, desktop software could be configured to store all files in a dedicated non-frozen partition.

For those who use 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 three things:

  1. Make a complete backup of your hard drive.
  2. Make sure you have a good antivirus program.
  3. Understand how to use System Restore.

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 "Make Your Computer Indestructible With Deep Freeze"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Gene Schulze
26 Mar 2012

Deep Freeze seems too cumbersome to use. Every time I change a file "for keeps" do I have to go through a thaw?

I used to use GoBack when it first came out and it was a great product. Completely transparent, but if I had a problem it was there to save me. I did get rid of two viruses with it and many a bad installation. I think Symantic bought them out and I never heard much after that. Sure wish it was still around. - Gene


Posted by:

Dan
26 Mar 2012

This looks like virtual drives for dummys...
A great idea but for those whom are completely illiterate, they will flip out when their information disappears..


Posted by:

GadflyQuebec
26 Mar 2012

Hello!

I've been a fan of yours since the early Internet Tourbus days. In fact, you're the one who set me on the path to geekdom ;-)

Reading your article, I thought about recommending this software but on further investigation, it becomes less appealing. They are not exactly transparent about their pricing.
After a number of pages, I found the information in the form of comments that it is being sold on an annual subscription basis--which seems rather absurd for something meant to be installed once so as to keep all settings stable. $35 for the Standard version for an individual seems reasonable until you realize that's for only one year, after which it will be anyone's guess. For organizations and the Enterprise version, the cost could really add up.

There are other means of achieving the same degree of stability. Internet cafes and public libraries can use a variety of software that erases all user activity on logout. One can set up a system to create a RAMdisk workspace and delete it automatically on reboot, or lock down the administrator account and use a LiveCD or bootable USB drive. A network administrator in a sensitive environment could set up an automatic process to reformat and reinstall on all workstations...

I suspect Deep Freeze may be a good solution for the individual without much interest in the technical side of things and with an adequate income. Anyone else may want to explore the alternatives.


Posted by:

Bill
26 Mar 2012

Perfect solution for computer club that teach a variety of programs with hands on access. Play, change etc to your hearts content and each night just reboot all the clubs computers. What is the $$$$ for 20 computers?


Posted by:

captainfepa
26 Mar 2012

Whatever the benefit or lack thereof, the product is extremely expensive: it seems to be licensed only by annual subscription at $36 per system, not actually sold!


Posted by:

ManoaHi
26 Mar 2012

For enterprises or schools, Deep Freeze is great. But I am not sure if using Deep Freeze at home is practical. I went back to school to update my IT skills and my university uses Deep Freeze. My friend and his wife both work in IT at the university. Deep Freeze has severely cut their support calls, so they can spend time on their regular job. Every student has to have a flash drive or portable hard disk drive. You need to save your work onto your own drive. I am not sure it requires a reboot. I think that Deep Freeze works on a logout as well.

At home, it can be intrusive and any documents and need to be saved on removable storage. If you have more than one partition or physical disk, you can put anything you save there, however, I believe most home users don't have that setup. So, I'm not clear if having this at home is useful. For the most part, at home it is not practical. For everyone in our household, even me, we use regular user logins. i.e. no one uses administrator logins. So anything that tries to change or add software, but not all settings (you need to let anti-virus/anti-malware software to allow updates), requires the administrator password. I am the only one with the administrator password.


Posted by:

Robert Schechter
26 Mar 2012

I read the following in a comment posted to the web by johntangelo@gmail.com: Faronics Deep Freeze has all but bitten the dust at this point. They have been struggling to secure their program against a program called Unfreezer by Emiliano Torres (a black hat programmer in Santa Rosario, Argentina).

EDITOR'S NOTE: I clipped most of your comment, because the information you were quoting came from a post dated 10-25-2005. Since then, no such reports have surfaced, so I have to think that this problem was resolved a long time ago.


Posted by:

Andy
26 Mar 2012

Scares me, Bob...of course i am an "old guy"...LOL. I maintain a data base program for my local club that is linked to a national organization. I both enter information and download updated information in the data base almost daily. I could not take a chance that any work I have done would not be there. Sounds like just the ticket though for public computers.


Posted by:

chadwick carr
26 Mar 2012

dosent sound like something i'd use, i have a external hard drive and occasionally make a system image, which is the same thing as this product, it dosent cost anything, its kinda a moot point if you know what your doing, sounds like something new to sell to a novice


Posted by:

JimN
26 Mar 2012

We've been using Deepfreeze for many years now to protect the settings on a dozen student workstations in a SeniorNet Computer Learning center in a municipal senior center. We haven't had any problems using DeepFreeze. I suggest that DeepFreeze users setup a dedicated extra partition where they can occasionally save a file where it won't be wiped by DeepFreeze. When you install DeepFreeze, you have the option to choose which partitions you want to have protected. And if you know the password, you can control whether DeepFreeze will be functioning or off during the next session.

Another thing I had great success with was to install DeepFreeze on a dedicated hard drive along with numerouous powerful anti-virus detection and removal applications. I would then use that hard drive with DeepFreeze running on it to scan a second hard drive from another workstation or laptop that had been severely corrupted by very infectious viruses or one of those phony AV applications that users are occasionally conned into downloading and installing only to find that they are fraudulent. With DeepFreeze protecting it, the drive is able to scan and repair an infected hard drive without any of the viruses or AV applications being able to jump onto the DeepFreeze drive and permanently infect it.


Posted by:

Jim
26 Mar 2012

Sandboxie does the same thing & it's free.


Posted by:

Walter
27 Mar 2012

Deep Freeze allows you to create a virtual drive (usually T:) where you can store whatever you want to preserve. I've been using Deep Freeze for years without problems whatsoever. I don't even have an antivirus/malware installed and if I got infected everything was back to normal after the next reboot. Great piece of software!


Posted by:

sfecla dimitrie
27 Mar 2012

I work whith Deep freeze (good one )when it was free,lost them and now it is not free


Posted by:

LinD
27 Mar 2012

I'd love it for home use. Well, home/biz use. As a geek, the idea of locking down my system from "here let me help you" updates and add-ons just sounds delicious. (Just because I set everything I can to "let me decide" doesn't mean every update lets me decide.)

The $35 fee seemed too good to be true. I was expecting a much higher price. Turns out I was right. It's $35/year. There are no "updates" to the software, as with anti-virus, to justify an annual fee. So until the vendor changes its pricing plan, I'll pass.


Posted by:

Lin Wilcox
28 Mar 2012

QUESTION: Is my hard drive going out?
Windows would not boot up. I tried several times, including the system restore and the rescue disks about ten times with no luck. Magically the next morning it was as if nothing happened. I ran a virus scan and malware check and came up clear. Should I still go to the expense of getting my hardrive checked?


Posted by:

Ron Dear
29 Mar 2012

You might try PacFix. Although DeepFreeze is an excellent product, some of the libraries have started using PacFix in lieu of DeepFreeze. I usually use it to roll out an installs. However, as you can customize it, some people have found creative ways to use it. It works on Win2K thru Win7 either 32 or 64 bit. PacFix appears to work like Windows restore point, but if any of your exe's have been compromised, restore point is hard to use whereas PacFix can be executed at startup before Windows starts.


Posted by:

Jerith
22 Apr 2013

I'm told that it is fishy but I have a laptop I need to totally freeze in time. And kept frozen. It will need to be like a book. No advancement of system time and static in all data. It will not be connected to any network. It will not be used to surf. Think of it as it needs to be pre-Michelangelo Virus that happened in the early 90's. Impending doom.

DeepFreeze satisfies the data requirement but will the clock be locked? Anyone think that DeepFreeze can do the full job? I'll keep a cloned HD of the system as a backup just in case of physical damage. Vista OS.

Any thoughts or experience?


Posted by:

Kirk
28 Jun 2013

We just bought 5 licenses of Deep Freeze at a 33% discount at $45 on the Faronics website.. you guys might find it useful, even though it's a long link!

https://store3.esellerate.net/store/checkout/CustomLayout.aspx?s=STR1066199390&pc=&page=OnePageCart.htm


Posted by:

Jonas clinton
19 Jun 2014

I have been a user of Deep Freeze for a while and its a great basic restore utility that restores your pc on every reboot, however I came across another product similar called Rollback RX which allows you to have many baselines as a pose to Deep Freeze which only has one.
watch the video - http://horizondatasys.com/en/rollbackrx10.2.ihtml


Posted by:

Hughman
11 Aug 2014

Deep Freeze is awesome!

I have been using it for years. You partition your C drive for the deep freeze and operating system ONLY. You need to make it large enough to accept any updates and any anticipated programs you may want to add to that drive. I made E drive my swap file and my F drive the drive in which all documents and other downloads, programs, etc are saved. If you thaw the deep freeze you can do any updates then refreeze.

I do a reboot before I thaw for any updates. I do updates, a disc clean up and a defrag before re freezing. I ran Deep Freeze alone for years before installing antivirus which I decided to do in case I downloaded a virus during an update.

If you try to save a web address in Explorer or Firefox it will be gone on the next start up. I created a file in my F Drive that has all the saved web address (My Favorites in my Documents file). Yes, it is a couple more mouse clicks to pull it up however I DO NOT have any virus issues, or sloowww computer problems EVER!

The computer which I bought in 2007 still rocks!!! It's a Dell Laptop with an XP Operating System.


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