Reboot-to-Restore in Deep Freeze vs. Reset-and-Refresh in Windows 8

As we eagerly await the official release of Windows 8 on October 26, I came across a couple of new features that could be mistaken for Deep Freeze-type functionality. After all, the features I am writing about are called “Reset” and “Refresh” – both terms commonly used with Deep Freeze!

Under PC settings > General, Windows 8 provides two options:

  1. Refresh your PC without affecting your files
  2. Remove everything and reinstall Windows

The following is what I found when I tested these two features on a AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 2 GHz with 2 GB of RAM. I installed 15 applications from the Windows Store and additional applications from disc  that included the MS Office suite (MS Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher), MS SQL Server 2008 R2, and Deep Freeze Enterprise Console.

Refresh

Here is what happens when you select this option:

  • Your files and personalized settings won’t change.
  • Your PC settings will change back to their defaults.
  • Apps from Windows Store will be kept.
  • Apps you installed from discs or websites will be removed.
  • A list of removed apps will be saved on your desktop.

I found it surprising that I was asked to “Insert media” when selecting this option as some files were missing. It took 30 mins to refresh the computer back to the default settings. As expected, all my files and computer settings remained but everything else, including all my apps that I installed from the disc were removed. When the Start screen loaded for the first time since the Refresh, I found that the apps that I had previously downloaded from the Microsoft Store were now reinstalling. I found a handy HTML file on my desktop that told me what applications were removed.

In addition to my applications being removed, all Windows updates (4 updates in total) that I had installed were removed and had to be installed again. Each local user profiles had to be rebuilt upon logging in for the first time after refresh. I sat through another Windows 8 tutorial as the profile sets up. Desktop, Documents, and wallpaper remained the same. Files were left intact (including install files used to install Deep Freeze, MS SQL Server 2008 R2, etc.).

Reset

Here is what happens when you select this option:

  • All your personal files and apps will be removed.
  • Your PC settings will be changed back to their defaults

Again it asked me insert the Windows installation or recovery media. It then presented me with two options on how much I wanted to clean my drive:

  1. Just remove my files – which will take a few moments.
  2. Fully clean the drive – which will take much more time.

The “just remove my files” option took me 30 minutes to reset which by no means was a “few moments”. The “fully clean the drive” option took me an astonishing 2.5 hours, living up to the “much more time” warning. In the end, I was asked to agree to the EULA again and went through the personalization wizard where you name your PC, choose your colors, and set your profiles – everything that comes with a brand-new Windows setup. The Developer’s Preview edition asked me to re-enter the Product key, however, the RTM version did not ask me for the key upon a reset.

Deep Freeze

How does Deep Freeze compare to the Refresh and Reset features in Windows 8? While these two features are a vast improvements over the System Restore functionality available within past Windows operating systems, the fact remains that folks must “make do” with a naturally deteriorating system until one day you just can’t take it anymore and finally take the time to refresh. Should an annoying virus make it through your labyrinth of protection, that computer will need to be reimaged or completely reset – reducing productivity.

Microsoft predicts that the average refresh will take approximately 8 minutes but my test on an average machine sets that time to closer to 30 minutes, not counting the time it takes to reinstall the applications that were installed from disc.  Restoring a system image from an external drive using the Windows backup utility will take even longer due to the data in the backup – the disc must suffer through a host of reads/writes.

Deep Freeze ensures that your computers run in the perfect/pristine condition at all times. Every reboot returns it back to that uncluttered, defragmented state you left it at – all at a regular reboot time. Is it not better to provide a standardized, optimized computer experience to your end-users rather than wait for the operating system to deteriorate over time?

Deep Freeze will be ready to support Windows 8 as soon as it is officially released. Interested in joining the beta program? Email us at deepfreezebeta@faronics.com.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.