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Sorry for the long title.

Rebooting will take too long, switching users is not an option, I have 2 hard-drives, the other one will be available and has compromising files too (read secret dirty porn).

I was thinking about a virtual machine that I can trigger with a key press combination or something.

  • Windows Vista
  • 4GB Ram
  • Core 2 Duo

The other OS can be any operating system that most people use (windows xp for example), probably I'll not be able to look at the screen all time to see if the person got access to the real OS.

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Just use Folder lock for those kind of adult content – subanki Sep 13 '10 at 4:24
The problem is: Browser history, Download Folder, A lot of things around the hard drive. – user21187 Sep 13 '10 at 4:30
By the way, I almost never use more than 2GB of RAM, so if necessary, I can hold the other operating system on the memory. – user21187 Sep 13 '10 at 4:31
@subanki Also I have a TrueCrypt volume for things that really should not be seen. – user21187 Sep 13 '10 at 4:33
Have you considered setting it up to switch users and then just setting the file permissions on your various secret files accordingly? Keep in mind that all a user would have to do is exit the VM, and bam, they're right there logged in as you, ready to do as much damage as they want. – nhinkle Sep 13 '10 at 4:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You haven't told us anything about your hardware configuration but, if your system can handle the load, a VM would be the best way to go. Create your VM with the desired OS, and instead of shutting it down, you can just pause it. When you want to switch OS, start up VM, unpause, and go. Also, by using a VM, you can control exactly what the other OS can see so no worries about unauthorized access.

Can you provide a little more information about "when a friend wants to"? Will the friend be taking it with him/her or sitting in your presence? Will the other OS also be Vista or will it be XP or some flavor of Linux?


Yep, with your hardware, definitely go with a VM. VirtualBox is your best bet.

Edit 2:

I don't see why switching users would not provide a satisfactory solution. It can generally be done in 10-15 seconds and as the owner of the machine, you have administrative control. You can control what files, programs, settings, and whatnot the other user has. He won't be able to break into your session or get into anything you don't want him to. It also has the virtue that you don't have to set up another operating system and maintain its updates. You can even restrict him from being able to reboot the machine. (Of course, you can't do anything about the "Off" button, but...)

Also, switching users is a one-key sequence: Windows + L

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The problem is, I need a really fast solution, like a key press combination and it starts loading the other OS – user21187 Sep 13 '10 at 4:26
You can always assign a short key to the VM that you've set up. Regardless, it won't be instantaneous. You can expect 10-15 seconds for the other OS to be usable. – BillP3rd Sep 13 '10 at 4:31
Yeah, 15 seconds is okay, but will VirtualBox block the user from getting out of the operating system without a key press combination or a password? – user21187 Sep 13 '10 at 4:35
Edited original answer asking for more info. – BillP3rd Sep 13 '10 at 4:37
As long as your drives are formatted NTFS, you can absolutely control access and there are no hacks (as long as you can control physical access to the machine). If your permissions are set correctly (and it's not that difficult to do in a simple situation such as yours), the other user will never have access to anything you don't want him to. You mentioned two drives. So, assuming there's nothing on the second drive that you want the other user to see, it's a simple one-step to remove access for all users except yourself. – BillP3rd Sep 13 '10 at 5:05

Given your usage scenario you're best bet would be to setup a VM to conduct any business you don't want other people accessing. You can encrypt the VM hard disk files so that no unauthorised users could copy/access the VM and you could password protect the VM's OS so that you can lock the screen and minimise the VM before letting your friend use the computer.

Whatever you do there will always be a chance you'll get caught. This way would minimise that risk most.

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