Restoring the Hard Disk Drive

Updated: September 22, 2010

Applies To: Windows 7

A typical user session causes many changes to the Windows partition. It creates, changes, and modifies program files. The operating system updates settings as part of its normal activity. Given that one of Ben’s requirements is to provide a consistent experience from one user session to the next, he needs a way to discard these changes each time a user session ends.

In Windows SteadyState, Windows Disk Protection helps protect system settings and data from permanent changes on the partition on which the Windows operating system is installed. Windows 7 does not provide a similar capability. However, free tools from Microsoft can help Ben automatically reimage shared computers every night.

System Restore

System Restore is a Windows 7 feature that helps users quickly recover from problems. System Restore saves snapshots of the system at key points, such as before installing an application or device driver. Users can recover from a problem by restoring the operating system to one of these snapshots.

Although scripting is beyond the scope of this document, it is possible to use System Restore to simulate the functionality of Windows Disk Protection. The TechNet Script Center Repository contains a number of scripts for automating System Restore. You can use these scripts to assemble a solution that creates a snapshot during installation, and then restores the computer to that snapshot when the user logs off of the computer.

System Restore does not restore users’ files; however, combining System Restore with mandatory user profiles can almost completely reset a computer between each user session.

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