Should You Deep Freeze Your Hard Drive?
There’s a software tool that claims to 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...
Here's How to Make Your Computer Indestructible
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, unintentionally by the user, or maliciously via 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, ransomware, and zero-day threats. 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.
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.
Deep Freeze will automatically download Windows updates, even when computers are Frozen. You can schedule a maintenance window to perform automatic updates and return to a Frozen state.
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 a ThawSpace – an alternative location 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 for Windows ($48 with free 30-day trial) is good for home users with a single computer. The Mac version is priced at $69.30. The Enterprise edition includes several tools for administrators of multiple computers.
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. Viruses, spyware, and pre-installed “crapware” 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 infections 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 tools such as Google Docs or Dropbox, 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 make regular backups, and use a security tool that allows only known-good programs to run on your computer.
PC Matic’s SuperShield does exactly that – it uses a whitelist approach that allows only known, trusted programs to run on your computer. Anything that is not on the whitelist is blocked. It prevents attacks from viruses, zero-day exploits, rootkits, cryptominers, keyloggers, and ransomware. See my review in
What’s New in PC Matic 4.0?
What do you think of Deep Freeze? Would you consider using it? Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Jan 2021
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should You Deep Freeze Your Hard Drive? (Posted: 19 Jan 2021)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved