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Locking Down a Shared or Public PC with SteadyState

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Do you have a workstation or computer that's used by the public or shared by multiple users? Eric Geier, author of 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista, helps you discover how the free Microsoft SteadyState utility can help secure and manage a multiuser PC.
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Do you have a workstation or computer that's used by the public or shared by multiple users? If you do, is it secured so people can't make system and settings changes, load in viruses and spyware, or do other harm? If not, this is a must-read article.

If yes, you ought to review the article anyway to see if you have all the bases covered. We'll discover and set up Microsoft's SteadyState solution.

SteadyState, which is available free to Genuine Windows XP and Vista users, helps lock down computers that will be used by public or multiple users.

Program and system restrictions, coupled with complete hard disk protection, help to ensure that users don't intentionally or unintentionally cause problems.

You can give users access to only what they need. You set the allowed software, settings, and access to drives. Plus if someone does make changes or infect the system, a simple restart can bring back the hard drive's previous state. This can be a life-saver[md]or at least prevent headaches!

Optimizing the PC for Shared or Public Use

Before you start playing around with SteadyState, you should optimize your PC or workstation. You need to clear clutter, secure private data, install a security suite, install updates, and run system checks.

Plus you should customize the system for its job by installing only the needed software. Get everything the way you want it. Microsoft even provides a handy checklist.

Typically, the best way to optimize the computer is to reformat and reinstall Windows after backing up any private data or documents. That way you can be sure all your private information is off the PC and you can start from scratch.

You can also create a second partition on the hard drive, which is a great way for you or other users to store files or user profiles.

Downloading and Installing

When you're ready, visit Microsoft's site to download SteadyState. Run the setup file and install it. The shortcut to open the application is on the Start menu, under Programs > Windows SteadyState.

When you launch the program, the help document might appear. You can review the documentation and close it to access the actual program. Then you'll see the SteadyState program (see Figure 1), in which you can change settings and manage the user accounts.

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