I’m looking for the best way to maintain a school lab. There are 20 PCs in the lab. All with windows 10. What would be the best way to configure them, so that the student will be able to use them, program in visual studio, eclipse, etc, but will not be able to corrupt the system? Or provide a way to restore some baseline. Currently using toolwiz timefreeze, but experiencing a lot of problems.

Edit: while investigating the options and reading the (excellent) answers, I started to wonder, why not use windows built in functionality?

  • Prevent windows destruction: provide the students with a user that cannot do installations and has it's own folder space.
  • Restore: Use windows restore. Am I missing something? Did someone tried it? with this solution, I would not need to install anything...
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    $\begingroup$ This is a new sort of question for this site, but my intuition is that this is topical. If anyone disagrees, they are welcome to create a meta about it. It's along the lines of the question we had about lab layout near the beginning of the site. $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Nov 10, 2018 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ My solution would be not, but that is a different issue. What sort to problems are you trying to avoid? I can't help, but others might be able to, but likely need more information about goals, etc. Please edit the question to add detail. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Nov 10, 2018 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @BenI. I tend to agree. Even if it would be on-topic elsewhere, it certainly is about teaching computer science, so it is appropriate here. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Nov 11, 2018 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ @BenI. I'm on the side of "topical" for this. The Q is "how to" regarding a problem faced extensively by CS educators. Others using computers in the classroom might have some issues with config changes, etc., just not at the level faced in CS classrooms. That the answer turns out to be a product, possibly, does not turn it into a "shopping list" question. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2018 at 5:26

3 Answers 3


I have experience managing a lab for student-use. We utilized Deep Freeze. I was not responsible for configuring it, but based on what you say you would like to have in terms of OS management, I believe it would check those boxes. We could set specific times for booting up and shutting down. Additionally, we could restore a non-corrupt image each day if something happened. It allowed extensive control and security. I'd encourage you to look into it. I also don't know the cost, so I can't speak to what you'd be paying per device. However, it worked incredibly well across campus.

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    $\begingroup$ I've go to second the Deep Freeze recommendation. It was in use, as far back as 2004, by the largest community college district in the US. Having been a student, a lab aide and doing IT support there I can say that it performed well and made everyone's life easier. Many times a student (or instructor) would hose a system and the solution was always "reboot." $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2018 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ My university used something like this in 1991. Don't know if same, but it did what you describe. $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2018 at 7:41

If I had to do it

I would run Debian Gnu/Linux on each machine, and then run Microsoft's Windows in Virtual-box. I would then use Virtual-box's snap-shotting tool to reset MS-Windows every time a student logs off.

  • Price: zero;
  • Cost: probably some training of IT support staff;
  • Time to restore: near zero, the time it takes MS-Windows to boot. though you could take the snapshot after boot, to make it faster. Other benefits you get Debian Gnu/Linux, as used by the top 500 super computers and most of the internet and web. )


I would run Debian Gnu/Linux with Mono-Develop and Eclipse.

Mono-Develop is a .net IDE. It is very similar to MS's Visual Studio: both are better than each-other, in different ways. It is hard to judge which is best. However Mono-Develop is Free. That is you have Freedom how you use it, you are also free to copy it, and to install it on any computer (including student's computer), and are free to keep it installed after graduation (there are other freedoms also).


We are using bwLehrpool for very large installations. The project wiki is here https://www.bwlehrpool.de/doku.php/allgemein/was_ist_bwlehrpool, but unfortunately it is in German and the service is for universities in one of the German federal states, but maybe this answer is helpful for someone in the same situation as we are.


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