Afraid of malware? DriveShield+ is the ultimate safety app -- it removes virtually every change to your computer when you restart your system.
It seems like a dream come true. Whether you make mistakes through your own changes to your hard disks or through malware corruption, all you have to do is reboot to return everything to its previous state. This is the idea behind DriveShield+ from Centurion Technologies.
This is how it works: The software creates a temporary storage area in which it stores any changes made to the system. When you reboot, the changes go away.
I threw a lot of tests at DriveShield+'s claims of total restore. I began with simple tests, such as creating folders and files, then (with a deep breath) intentionally corrupted critical system files. DriveShield+ responded perfectly every time after rebooting.
That's great news for some users. For example, computers in public places such as in libraries can remove all traces of previous users simply by restarting Windows. Parents of computing kids who are too adventurous for their own good can reap the same benefits. The enterprise-level version Centurion Guard may be most useful for companies, which can use the product to prevent hapless users from installing spyware-laden applications, saving any changeable data (such as email) onto the server.
But it may not be such good news for others. If you want to keep some of your data, you can disable the product -- but then everything remains, including potentially nasty Web content. The only solution if you want to save something permanently is to disable the product, reboot, make your changes, enable, and again reboot. The pain isn't worth the gain -- even if you remember to change DriveShield+'s status and reboot several times during a typical day's computer usage.
Available Workarounds DriveShield+ offers a few workarounds, but they don't apply to all types of data stored on your hard disks. With some effort, experienced users can change the pointers in the Windows Registry to certain Microsoft-specific folders and files (My Documents, Favorites, and Outlook .pst files) so that they point to DriveShield+'s Persistent Storage (PS) area. Those files can then be changed without loss after a reboot, even while DriveShield+ is enabled. But that leaves out other kinds of data. For example, there is no help about how to save your e-mail if you're not an Outlook user, or how to deal with automatic updates of Windows or anti-virus signature files.
DriveShield+ users also have to be careful if they decide to uninstall the software. The "saved" files in the PS area are lost forever if you uninstall it without correctly undoing all of the pointers. Further, several features of the PS area are unavailable to Win 9x users.
Finally, less savvy users might find the lack of any help files or even a user interface confusing -- the only information can be found in the user manual, which is located on the product's CD-ROM.
Overall, I found DriveShield+ a challenge to use unless my intent was to clear all changes to a computer after each user session. Companies that need to keep their users on a short leash could find it very useful. The rest of us should consider the alternative of drive imaging software such as Acronis True Image that permits us to save the state of our computers at user-selected times during our daily work.
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