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Deep Freeze

Roosevelt University has added an application called Deep Freeze to all public-access computers, including the computers in the open labs, the computer classrooms, the libraries, and mounted on mobile carts. The most important fact to remember about this software is that users are unable to store files on the local hard disk of those computers.

When Deep Freeze software is installed on a computer, every time that computer is rebooted the system starts with a "clean slate." All system changes, software installations, and saved files are permanently deleted after each restart. All systems are configured to restart automatically once a day, and also after 60 minutes of idle time.

Why we did it

Using Deep Freeze makes it possible for us to grant to students unrestricted access to university-owned lab computers, while at the same time making sure that any changes made to those systems through regular use (such as configuration changes, accidental installation of spyware and viruses, installation of unauthorized software, etc.) do not accumulate and render the machine unusable. It also erases all traces of the previous user, reducing the likelihood that personal information will remain on the machine where it can be viewed by other users.

FAQ

Why can't I save my files to the local hard disk?

When a computer running Deep Freeze reboots, it deletes all changes made to the machine since the last restart. This includes any data files saved on the local hard disk (typically the C: drive).

Since I can't rely on the hard disk, where can I save my files?

The best way to manage your files is to get a portable flash drive (i.e. USB drive) and use that to store your personal files (make sure you write your name on the drive). That way, your files are completely under your control and you can also take them with you from one computer to another. You can also save your files temporarily to the C: drive and then send them to yourself as an email attachment before leaving the lab. Another method is to use the computer's CD-RW drive to burn a copy of your files to CD. If you have a USB-based portable hard drive you can also use this to store your files.

Important note: do not risk losing all your work -- make sure you keep at least one backup copy of any file that is important to you.

Is the local hard drive now completely off-limits on these computers?

Not exactly. You can still make temporary use of the C: drive while you work. Just remember that any files you save on the hard disk are only temporary and will not be there when you return the next day (or even sooner, if the PC is rebooted).

Can I get around the file storage limitations by making sure that nobody reboots the machine I'm using?

No. Every Deep Freeze machine has been configured to automatically reboot every 24 hours. This means the computer refreshes itself once a day even if no one manually issues the restart command.

Can my deleted files be retrieved from backup?

No. There is no backup service running on these computers. All deleted files are completely unrecoverable.

Is this application also running on the Macintosh computers?

No. At this time Deep Freeze has been installed only on the Windows machines in the labs. Installation of a version for the Macs is under consideration and may take place in the near future.