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How can I limit the time spent on the computer or force a log out from a Windows 7 machine?

I used to use Windows Steady State to limit users (kids) from being on too long but SteadyState does not work with Windows 7 Home Premium and is discontinued.

Is there a way to set this up in Windows 7 where it will kick off a user after a set time? Or perhaps there's an alternative program that can help limit the time one user is at the computer.

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Related: superuser.com/questions/184302/… –  DMA57361 May 6 '11 at 12:03

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted
+50

From 5 alternatives to Windows SteadyState for Windows 7 :

  1. Returnil Virtual System (free) is similar to Windows SteadyState. It caches all changes made to the system on a virtual storage disk instead of the actual partition, and then reverts back to the original states when the computer is rebooted.
  2. Sandboxie (free) runs your programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.
  3. Wondershare Time Freeze Free is a software that essentially freezes your computer in time by allowing you to install software, run application and surf the Internet, and then roll back any changes you made to the system after you are done.
  4. Faronics Deep Freeze ($38) is available not only for Windows but also Mac OS X, and SUSE Linux operating systems which allows system administrators to protect the core operating system and configuration files by restoring a computer back to its original configuration each time the computer restarts.
  5. Shadow Defender ($35) is another application that employs the virtual environment approach. It redirects each system change to a virtual environment keeping the actual system intact, and then discarding the changes on a reboot.
  6. HDGUARD ($22) works exactly the same way all the software mentioned above works. HDGUARD memorizes all changes a user or Windows performs on the system and then forgets it when the computer is restarted.
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Thanks, I'll look into these! –  javamonkey79 Nov 14 '11 at 15:53
    
Added Sandboxie to the list. –  harrymc Nov 14 '11 at 16:15

Try using the built-in parental controls in Windows 7. You can restrict the times your kids can be logged on as well as control and monitor the use of software and games.

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You can restrict what times, but not for how long...so far as I can tell. –  javamonkey79 May 6 '11 at 5:12
    
Unfortunately, I cannot find a quality free solution for your needs. You may want to try TimesUpKidz, at US$29.95, or the more expensive ComputerTime, starting from US$39.95. Both of these programs can limit time spent on the computer and force a logout when the time expires. Note that I am not affiliated with any of the companies that develop this software. –  DragonLord May 6 '11 at 11:57
    
Hmm, thanks! Maybe I'll roll my own :) –  javamonkey79 May 7 '11 at 2:17
    
It should be there, or I am getting confused with Windows 8. Of course they claim it logs out and I see it just switch user instead. –  jla Nov 21 '13 at 5:11

You could put a scheduled task to log off a user after a certain time.

  • Launch Task Scheduler and click create task

Create Task

  • Select the system account, run wether the user is logged in or not, with highest privileges (you can pick "hidden" too after you've checked it was working ok)

General

  • Add a trigger so the task executes: at logon, after 2 hours (for example - not that you can type the value, you don't have to select one of the choices). Also select the user to which apply the trigger

Trigger

  • In the Actions tab, type : shutdown.exe, with the -I -t 0 parameters, start in c:\windows\system32

actions

  • Remove the conditions and click ok

conditions

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Good idea, but would that prevent the user from just logging back in again? –  Andrew Schulman Nov 15 '11 at 16:55
    
You're correct, they would be able to login again. It would also be possible to run a small vbscript instead of the command, that checks against the last run dates... Maybe logging the number of times the task was run would give you a hint though... –  Ziad WAKIM Nov 15 '11 at 19:24
    
Is that an i(I) or an l(L)? shutdown /l seems to do the trick and needs no timeout. –  jla Nov 21 '13 at 5:02

Romaco Timeout is a free program with great features that limits the amount of time a user can be logged on; I use it for my kids. You can also set it so someone can't log in before/after a certain time of day. http://www.romacocanada.ca/timeout/

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Also to note, Windows 7 Home Premium does not include logoff.exe by default, which makes it difficult to script solutions. However, you can copy the executable from the System32 folder of another PC as a workaround. From there you can write simple log on scripts that call logoff.exe. This solution is a little more involved though.

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You could write a batch script that version includes the shutdown command. Put that in their startup folder under their account.

Use the -f -r -t <time in seconds> switches and as soon as they logged in, it would start a timer to reboot forcibly.

So for example

shutdown -f -r -t 3600

Would give them an hour (3600 seconds) before it rebooted.

So long as you put this in their startup folder then when you go in as an admin, you can remove the program from their startup folder.

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