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Securing Public Access PCs Without Shutting Out Users

Securing Public Access PCs Without Shutting Out Users

  • In TechSoup's Securing Public Access PCs Without Shutting Out Users, librarian Jessamyn West shares helpful tips on keeping your public access computers safe and secure -- and your staff happy and sane.

    Have some tips of your own? Share them here!
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • wcook,

    I have to say that this is an excellent article!

    Nice job!
    Robert Dukes - Microsoft Software Advisor, Microsoft & Cisco Partner.
  • I agree that this is an excellent article. As a librarian in a small library I deal with these issues every day. One tool that we have found to be invaluable has been software that allows patrons to do whatever they please to the computers, but the changes are never permanent. A simple restart an all goes back to how we set it up. We use DeepFreeze, but there are other good programs out there too, like Centurian Guard, for example. We used to spend hours every day cleaning off unwanted items and returning settings to our choices, but no more! One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these programs need to be turned off or thawed periodically to allow for changes such as Windows updates and Daylight savings time changes, otherwise they will drive the users crazy!
  • I've been told Deep Freeze is on the expensive side. Did you ever think of using Ghost?

    A Windows Ghost image can be restored in less than 5 minutes, and Ghost is less expensive and there are free alternatives.
  • Ghost wouldn't be a practical use item in this circumstance. It requires intervention on the users' part when doing a restore. Programs like DeepFreeze restore the settings automatically.

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
    Co-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum

  • And Deep Freeze is relatively inexpensive as well. Pricing and discounts are shown on the Faronics website.


  • Many school IT Managers have told me Deep Freeze was on the expensive side, looks like I stand corrected.

    You are right about Ghost... With the Enterprise Edition one can mange all centrally and patches/updates are easy. Apply and update the base image.

    One could automate Ghost with a couple of lines in a batch file.
  • I just came out of a week's running of a small number of Internet kiosks set up by a group of Detroit Public School students I trained for the Superbowl (info - we used a 50Mb dedicated iso that runs only a web browser; and each time the user closes the browser or the machine is idle for about 15mins, it restarts the session therefore clearing ALL residual user info. This tool is very useful for dedicated Internet stations; and as a very lightweight Linux distribution it will work on very old machines, thus enabling your lib to offer older, cheaper and more numerous Internet stations while keeping your few newer machines available for folk who need to do word processing or other work. By removing the hard-drive, you have a virtually bullet-proof computer that uses less power and runs quieter.

    The distribution, developed by a group to create easy-to-run Internet kiosks for Katrina victims, is available at the link below. If you need info about customizing this free tool, google 'custom iso live-cd' or email me at the website above.


    More info: