Kiosk Software VS “Restore on Reboot” Programs – What is the Best solution for Your Public Computers?
What should you install on kiosks to minimize IT administrator oversight? That is, what’s the best solution for these self-service computer kiosks that will give you, the IT manager, the least number of headaches? The answer to this question all depends on the specific purpose these devices are meant to serve. So in this document I want to help you determine what sort of software would best serve your specific needs based on four specific criteria:
1.) Do you wish to restrict the kiosks to specific applications or Windows functions?
2.) Do you wish to allow users to save their personal documents?
3.) How would you like the machines to be reset?
4.) Do you wish to remotely monitor and manage multiple kiosks?
If all you wish to do is to restrict your users from using any program(s) other than the specific application(s) you wish these machines to be restricted to then lockdown software is the best way to do this.
Lockdown software certainly does prevent malicious, unauthorized, and even inadvertent system changes, such as software installations, virus infections, and other public user mischief. But lockdown software also limits the usefulness of these multi-user workstations by disabling many Windows functions that would enhance the public users’ experience. Lockdown software is usually a simple tool for IT management and avoids the need for more extensive disaster prevention and recovery options such as anti-virus software, usage monitoring tools, firewall management, and security software. If the users can’t mess up the machines then the need to fix them just can’t arise, right? Suppose, for instance, you would like your library terminals to be limited to allowing users to access and search the library catalogue. It’s then a simple matter of forcing the users into a non-admin account that restricts all applications except a single browser and also only whitelists a single site, your library catalogue. All these restrictions you can impose via kiosk software. But this can also be done with Windows native Group Policies.
But if you would like these public workstations to have more functionality then lockdown software may not be appropriate. One large downside of locking-down the kiosks is that some users may need permissions to perform basic tasks such as adding a printer or to allow them to unblock some app from the firewall or even to permit them to save a file to the desktop. The network manager may find herself micro-managing user privileges. There may also be instances in which the public users may need to configure Windows functions. In some kiosk labs dedicated to technical computing courses, require unrestricted access to the workstations. If that’s the case then you may want to look at a restore-on-reboot software.
Non-Restrictive Self-Service Kiosk Workstations
Reboot Restore Rx is a simple restore-on-Reboot software program that will discard any changes the user made during their session and return the kiosks back to the IT administrator’s predefined clean system state (or “baseline”). Microsoft had until recently offered a freeware called Steady State that did grant this functionality as a free product for public PCs. But since Steady State was discontinued in 2010 the go-to freeware for basic restore-on-reboot capability for Windows is now provided by Reboot Restore Rx.
Reboot Restore Rx allows you to offer your public users a non-restrictive Windows session that’s not limited to any specific Windows functions. Reboot Restore Rx is a freeware that offers you a simple way of managing these self-service stations by continually returning to your predefined baseline settings once one user has ended their session so that the machine presents a pristine baseline state to the next user. This avoids all the endless hassles associated with having to clean up these machines even while allow the public users to do whatever they’d like. They can hack the registry, download viruses, install games, et cetera. But once these users logoff, or restart, or on some fixed schedule, or if the machines go idle after a period of time, the system will return to the baseline. In fact, many applications require full administrator rights to function properly. And you can grant all your public users full admin privileges without worry. Once the users have exited Windows all trace of their activity is erased and the machine returns to the baseline. Reboot Restore Rx is also fully compatible with Active Directory and Group Policies so you can still define accounts and limit some privileges if you need.
Auto-Clear the User Clutter on Every Restart
And since Reboot Restore Rx returns these machines on a bit-for-bit basis back to baseline, you don’t need to worry about the privacy and security of the public users from being left behind. Once the users have ended their session Reboot Restore Rx clears the cache and wipes out all cookies, their browsing history, any personal information they entered, temporary internet files of users’ surfing activity, recently opened documents, auto-saved temporary archives, and so forth. In fact, there is no known malware, spyware, adware, or keyloggers that will remain resident on the machine after the return to the baseline with Reboot Restore Rx.
But if you would like to allow your public users to save their documents onto the machines or otherwise need to allow them to put aside some data cache that remains persistent and exempt from the auto-restore, then you’re going to need something more. Reboot Restore Rx Professional gives you a lot more options for restore-on-reboot. Reboot Restore Rx Professional enables you to create an Exclusion Drive, a cache of data that’s put aside for the user to create and change as they wish and which will be exempt from the restore-to-baseline.
Single Baseline Restore Software
If you install new software, remove programs, update Windows, et cetera you’ll find that Windows will start slowing down and will become progressively slower and less stable. Windows startup and shutdown times will become longer. This is called incidental system degradation and will eventually cause you to have to reinstall Windows from scratch. So what’s the best way to prevent operating system deterioration?
Reboot Restore Rx is a single baseline auto-reset software. Reboot Restore Rx Professional, on the other hand, is a multi-baseline restore-on-reboot product that will allow you to update the baseline to keep up with the latest Windows and program updates but also allow you to return to an earlier failsafe baseline that you can resort to in case the system begins to experience system degradation. You can also return to the installation baseline (how the system was when you installed Reboot Restore Rx Professional).
Defining the Reset Trigger
Many restore to baseline software are only triggered to return to the baseline state if the PCs are restarted. But Reboot Restore Rx Professional allows you to reset on every boot-up, logoff, every hour, every day, every week, or if the machine becomes inactive. The core design philosophy behind Reboot Restore Rx Professional is to simplify system administration. This means that you should never again have to individually walk around to this kiosk machine to ensure that it’s up and running properly. This is where the Reboot Restore Rx Professional Remote Management Console comes in.
Remotely Monitor and Manage Multiple Kiosks
If you manage more than a small handful of machines, it can become a long arduous task to walk around to each machine in order to monitor their status or manage them individually. Software that doesn’t allow you to centrally manage all those various kiosks could unnecessarily take up much more time and effort that could better be spent doing other things. Here’s where Reboot Restore Rx Professional can really simplify the management of multiple kiosks. Reboot Restore Rx Professional comes with a free enterprise-level network utility called the Remote Management Console (RMC) that allows you to remotely monitor and control many thousands of kiosks from a single interface.
Reboot Restore Rx Professional is a safety net that ensures that your kiosks will always be available and in the perfect state.