If you’ve ever wanted to maintain a system state to keep it secure and not allow any changes, then you might want to try deep freezing your Windows computer.
Unlike a factory reset, which wipes everything back to the manufacturer’s default, a deep freeze allows you to create a specific system state that you want your computer to restore back to. Windows 8 has built-in utilities to restore and refresh your system, but this is a bit different.
There are paid and free applications to help you accomplish this, so we’re going to look at both and see what’s available on the market.
What Is Deep Freeze?
Deep Freeze is an application that resets the system state every time you reboot your computer. This means that any change to the system, like installing a program or adjusting a setting, will be forgotten when the system starts up again.
Deep Freeze is developed by Faronics and is available on modern versions of Windows. It’s suitable for a single computer workstation or an entire server. While Deep Freeze is a very useful tool, the downside is that it’s commercial. There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying for software, but there are a number of free alternatives out there that might suit you better.
Download: Deep Freeze (30-day free trial) or purchase full edition (price on request).
Why Would I Need It?
Have you ever used a public computer? Those found in hotels or libraries will probably use some sort of system restoring software. This is because these systems are set up to run in a very specific way. Users may accidentally download malware, attempt to install a program or alter the visual style of the computer – to keep tabs on this across all systems and then fix any changes is far too time consuming.
Not only does it come in handy for businesses, but deep freezing a system can be beneficial to you as an individual, too. Have you ever set up a computer for a friend or relative only to return at a later date to find it riddled with junk? Or perhaps they’ve changed a setting somewhere and they don’t know how to get it back to normal?
Save yourself the hassle of fulfilling the tech support role and instead let their computer dismiss any changes when they reboot. Additionally, be sure to read our guide on how to make their computer harder to break.
What Are The Free Alternatives?
If this sounds like something you might benefit from then we’ve rounded up a list of free software that will deep freeze your system. Be sure to post a comment below if you’ve used any of these before or have your own suggestion to add.
Steadier State is a program developed specifically for Windows 7. The name comes from Windows SteadyState, a free deep freezing utility that Microsoft provided for XP and Vista, which was discontinued and is no longer compatible with new operating systems.
A good thing about this program is that every time the system reboots, you can choose whether to roll back to the original state or keep the changes. It’s a simple little utility, but if you’re running Windows 7 off a few single machines, then it’ll do the job well.
Reboot Restore Rx
While Reboot Restore Rx does have a paid alternative (Drive Vaccine) that offers additional features, like scheduled restoring, remote managed and critical update automation, the free version does the job just fine for basic use.
The program supports Windows 2000 to Windows 8.1, both 32-bit and 64-bit, and is still being updated to this day. It’s a bit different to some other programs because it uses its own mini operating system that functions at the sector level of the hard drive, ensuring the master boot records’ integrity is kept.
ToolWiz Time Freeze [No Longer Available]
One of the great things about ToolWiz Time Freeze is its simplicity. All you need to do is tick a single box and the program will work its magic. You can also start the program while the system is running or alternatively enable it to automatically run on each boot.
You can add a password protection to your time freeze to make it harder for someone to disable the protection. ToolWiz Time Freeze is available on everything from Windows XP and above. It even claims to work on Windows 10, which is still in beta!
‘Till Windows Freezes Over
Whether you just want to protect your own computer or a whole bank of them, deep freezing a system can come in very useful. No longer do you have to worry about anything troubling your system again – simply restart and the changes are gone!
You don’t even have to use these programs permanently. For example, there might be times where you let someone play around on your system and you could enable one of these utilities prior to the fact in order to maintain your preferred state.
There’s loads of uses for a deep freeze and luckily an arsenal of free programs to help you out!
Do you make use of any deep freeze software? If so, how does it come in useful for you? Do you have any other freeware to add to our list?