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Faronics "Deepfreeze" software works well to achieve this (fresh on restart) but are there ways to achieve this otherwise, that requires only what comes with windows? Since it is possible to 'image' and then 'restore from image' in windows 7/8, couldn't deepfreeze-like behavior be achieved using these built-in windows tools?

And are there other ways to achieve this? Since Microsoft isn't continuing with their SteadyState, has it be depreciated by other methods/tools, like the one described above?

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I believe SteadyState DOES still work, if you can manage to find the installer. (I could have sworn I saved it myself...) I can't think of any way to do it without the imaging methods you've suggested, and while I guess you could automate that it'd be very clunky so I wouldn't suggest it. It'd be easier if you were working in a VM - simply refresh to an old copy of the image every day. – Shinrai Jun 19 '12 at 19:22
Wasn't SteadyState only available for 32-bit Windows though? Maybe it's possible to abuse VHD booting w/ differential VHDs to pull this off? – afrazier Jun 19 '12 at 19:39
Looks like it's possible Windows 7 SteadyState. I'm hesitant to post this as an answer since it's effectively a link & run and requires files hosted on a blog post (even if it's a TechNet Blog post). – afrazier Jun 19 '12 at 19:46
As a comment, maybe it isn't that important a feature? Can someone say something about this? I've been assuming it is, as a guard against rogue applications/malware/registry rot, but perhaps it isn't necessary? I know, in a library for example, it obviously is, but what about the home poweruser? – jhstuckey Jun 19 '12 at 20:32
It's useful in pretty much any kiosk/lab environment, but outside of that not so much. The big drawback is the difficulty in persisting any changes/documents (which is rather the point, but makes things like security updates a non-trivial process). For home power users, system virtualization (VMware/VirtualBox) or sandboxing/app virtualization (SandboxIE, Altiris SVS) may be easier to deal with. – afrazier Jun 20 '12 at 17:47
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Currently, no, that would not be feasible, using the Windows Image Restore; it takes a while, and can still be corrupted while the system is running, unless it's hosted on another secure server. The other issue as well is how do you tell Windows to restore from an image on the next reboot every time, except the first time? You'd have to rely on someone manually starting the process every time.

My recommendation, depending on your requirements, would be to enable the Guest account and hide the Administrative accounts

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The Embedded edition of Windows (e.g. Windows Embedded Standard 7) has a feature called Enhanced Write Filter that pretty much does what you want. It creates overlays for logical disks and discards the overlays on reboot. There's also the option of committing changes to disk (for servicing etc).

I believe that EWF will be carried over to Embedded 8.

That said, licensing issues may prevent you from using the solution. Depends on your specific use scenario.

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