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How do I install a non-persistent operating system (using Windows XP, Vista or 7)?

For example, all changes like testing updates should be automatically deleted as soon as the computer shuts off.

I know about ghosting and backup drives and that the OS can be virtualized, but is there anything else?

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Why did your similar Stack Overflow question actually include more details than this one? – slhck Sep 26 '11 at 17:41
Well, the answer I got wasn't nearly as good as the ones I got here. So obviously, I thought, I did something wrong. So I wrote it differently, do not think it has more information but more restrictions. – Reza M. Sep 26 '11 at 19:14
@slhck, Also, there is always a wonderful person like you to look out for me. :D – Reza M. Sep 26 '11 at 19:15
I see, well, for the future, it's always good to provide as many details as you can! :) – slhck Sep 26 '11 at 19:21
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are a few options available for doing this. The main is virtualization – I find this to be the best solution in my test instances.

Another (albeit more specific use product) would be steady state type of product. Check out Deep Freeze for a good example.

[…] It protects your computer by freezing its original configuration, which prevents unwelcome or unwanted changes made while in-session from sticking. With a simple restore-to-reboot, your system integrity is maintained helping your machines to run smoothly and efficiently giving you more up-time and boosting user productivity

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Microsoft Steady State is great, if you can still find the installer. – Shinrai Sep 26 '11 at 17:51
@slhck - thanks for the edit. I was planning to put a quote in place. – Tim Brigham Sep 26 '11 at 17:51
Sweet Can't use the virtualization as I do a lot of work with the drivers. – Reza M. Sep 26 '11 at 18:50
@Shinrai, Deep Freeze is apparently one of the replacements for the steady state as its being deprecated and also limited to 32bit xp and vista. – Reza M. Sep 26 '11 at 18:52
@RezaM. - Right, Steady State hasn't been available for some time now. I mention it specifically as a first-party product for posterity. – Shinrai Sep 26 '11 at 19:22

Sandboxie runs apps in a protected environment so that any changes they make are non-permanent; this might be helpful to you in some circumstances and for quick testing.

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Really neat, Good to know about it. +1 but I require updates be made to other software so cannot let it be controlled so much. In short, it wouldn't allow me for the current task but this will be really useful in the future, thanks. – Reza M. Sep 26 '11 at 18:49

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