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Windows SteadyState Part 1

Monday, March 16th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Free Downloads, Security Help
 
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A while ago, we wrote an article about a new Microsoft program called Windows SteadyState. For those of you that missed it, the article gave a quick description of the program and explained that it is a great way to secure your computer if it has multiple users. Expecially if those multiple users happen to be the kind that might mess up your computer!

Well, since that article was written, I’ve been asked several times to go into more detail on how to use this great, free program offered by Microsoft. So, here we go!

First, let me start out by explaining exactly what SteadyState does. I am sure that many of you have used computers at work. A lot of times, work computers are connected to a server that controls what users are allowed to do. The server can make it so users are not able to do certain acts that might cause damage to the computer or compromise sensitive data. Well, that is all great if you are connected to a big corporate network, but what if you wanted to be able to control your computer at home just like this? That is where SteadyState comes in. SteadyState is a set of tools that allow you to control your computer with the same precision as a network admin!

Here is what it looks like. You can download it here

Steadystate screen shot
Today, we are going to talk about the global settings that you see in the middle of the screen. These setting effect all users on the system.

Lets first look at the “set computer restrictions” area. Since there are quite a few boxes here, I am going to cover the important ones. Under privacy settings, you will see one line that says, “Prevent locked or roaming user profiles that cannot be found on the computer from logging on”. If you have more than one computer in your home, you might want to uncheck this one. This will allow for file sharing to work more smoothly with usernames and passwords.

Now, under “security settings”, there are a few good ones. The first option says ” remove the administrator user name from the welcome screen”. If you want to hide the admin, just check this. This works great for keeping people from trying to log on as admin. Another line that reads ” Prevent users from creating folders or files on the drive C:” will allow you to stop all changes to the main drive on the computer. this will definitely make the system less likely to be corrupted due to bad file changes. The best one on this screen is the one that reads “prevent write access to USB storage devices”. This is great for stopping people from getting things off the computer.

Ok. now you can click OK and move to the software update section as shown in the screen shot above. This screen allows you to tell SteadyState to install automatic updates. Many times, this option is already turned on through windows update, but enabling it through Steadystate overrides any other users’ settings. Another great feature.

Finally, lets go to the “protect the hard disk” area. This is a very powerful feature should you decide that you want to use it. With this option turned on, you can use the computer and do whatever you want. After you restart the computer, it will return to its previous state, no changes will be made at all! Now, keep in mind that this means you can even save downloads or anything. For some, this feature wont make much sense, but for others, its amazing!

OK. These are the global features of Windows SteadyState. Next week, we will look into some of the “per user” options.

Till next time, stay safe out there

~Gary

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