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We'll have a couple of laptops sitting at a table at a convention we're going to soon. We're not concerned about physical theft - the laptops will be physically secured, and there'll be someone keeping an eye on them most of the time. There's also no sensitive information on them.

However, we want to make it as hard as reasonably possible for someone malicious to go in and format the hard drive, or delete everything from the Windows folder, or install KILLALLNERDS.EXE from a USB drive while the minder is distracted. Alternatively, if someone does manage to ruin one, we'd like to be able to get it back up and running ASAP, without spending 3 hours reinstalling windows and all the software.

The laptops are running fully up to date Windows 7 (I think 64-bit edition), and will be physically networked to a printer, but not connected to the internet.

What's the cheapest way to reasonably do this? Protecting this from some master hacker isn't important - all we care about is making it hard for a bored kid to do some damage.

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Possible duplicate:… – Hello71 Jul 28 '10 at 2:12
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Create a guest account, password protect all other accounts with strong passwords.

Use Acronis to make a full disk image prior to deploying the PC to the public, if something does get hacked you can restore the image in less than an hour.

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Group policies are probably the best bet. This site is good for starters.

Basically you restrict the login you have the pc signed on as so it CAN'T install software etc.

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Yep group policy is a good way to lock down computers. You can prevent access to drives and remove stuff like My Computer and Control Panel. – Reflux Jul 29 '10 at 19:55

You have laptops on a table for anyone to use? Including random high school hacker wannabes? To just print? Or?

More details will help us give you a clean and simple solution. Public computers are huge red flags.

Without knowing anything more, I'd say you do one of the following:

1) Pull out the hard drive and run a ubuntu live CD.

2) Clone the hard drives. Replace if necessary. But even if it seems nothing went wrong, format what's inside the laptop and replace it with the clone (don't take chances)

3) Create a limited guest account like JNK said, and pay your minder more.

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They get to run one application (which should already be running when they get there) and print from it. That's about it. – Colen Jul 28 '10 at 7:05

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