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Windows 7: Virtualization Advice Needed

30 Mar 2014   #1

Win-7 Prof 64bit
 
 
Virtualization Advice Needed

Hello,

With so many problems faced by family members with viruses/spyware, programs getting installed by mistake while internet browsing, by people who are not as tech savvy, I've decided to set up the laptops to use internet only via a VM. Do not need XP mode. Two different scenarios:
(A) People might share a VM since they share a laptop
I think in this case with multiple users, differencing disk seems to be the way to go.

(B) Only one person using the laptop
In this case I was wondering if just a dynamically expanding VM will be good enough.

Questions:
(1) A common question to both approaches is - Available hardware in both scenarios are HP laptops that do not have Virtual Hardware support in BIOS but have Win-7-Prof 64-bit on them. I was wondering if I could purchase and install 32-bit Win-7 as guest OS in Windows Virtual PC.
(2) For Approach (A), I can create differencing disks for different users and also have one differencing disk for myself. My plan is to use my disk for all updates/patches etc and then merge with parent disk. of course I will need to grab any required data in the user's differencing disks because my understanding is once parent disk is changed the diff disks become unusable. Does this sound like a plan?
(3)If yes to Q2, how do I merge my differencing disk with parent disk
(4) If yes to Q2, how do I get rid of the diferencing disks of other users?
(5) If yes to Q2, can differencing disk be set up with UNDO disk capability?
(6) For Approach (B), in which the machine is not going to be readily available to me and is available only when owners come and visit, I was wondering if I can train users in using regular VM with UNDO disk capability and they can undo whatever they have done in the VM in that session. But then the question arises, how to get regular updates/patches to the VM. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your assistance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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12 Apr 2014   #2

Win-7 Prof 64bit
 
 

bumping.

Any advice anyone? please!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Apr 2014   #3

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

I am not sure if this will help or not. I use a "sandbox" program called Toolwiz Time Freeze. It can be configured to automatically run when Windows 7 starts. It prohibits any and all changes to your computer (including any web links). When you turn off the computer all "changes" are discarded.

It also has the ability to be password protected. Meaning in your example, no one using your computers will be able to save or download anything (including PUP's, viruses, malware, etc.). You, on the other hand, will be able to turn Time Freeze off (so you can make changes, downloads, etc.) since only you know the password to turn it off. If you set it to launch with Windows, it should be almost full-proof protection, if I understand correctly your needs.

And did I mention it is free? Here is a link if you are interested:

ToolWiz Time Freeze ToolWiz Software

Hope this helps
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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12 Apr 2014   #4

Win 7 Ultimate x64 desktop, Win 8.1.1 x64 laptop, Win 7 Home x64 netbook, Win 8.1.1 x64 tablet
 
 

Instead of setting up VMs by buying additional copies of Win 7, which could get expensive, use a Linux distro such as Linux Mint in the VM. Since it's just for internet browsing there will be almost no learning curve as internet browsing using a browser like Chrome or FireFox is pretty much the same whether Windows or Linux. If you use IE as the browser then you will need to install something like Wine to make IE work in the VM.

Your family would use the Linux VM when they are browsing the internet but could still use Windows 7 to play games or word process or whatever else they do.

Whatever way you go, make sure that whatever virtualization software you use supports taking a "snapshot". A snapshot saves the current configuration of the VM and will then allow you to revert the VM back to that snapshot. Similar to making a system image backup of a machine. That way, if the VM does pickup a virus or malware you can just revert back to the snapshot and be back with a fresh VM. I recommend using VirtualBox.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Apr 2014   #5

Win-7 Prof 64bit
 
 

I recently obtained a MSDN License so I can create at least 3 VMs with Win-7, so that is not an issue right now.

Am looking at Free VM - VirtualBox that does allow for snapshots.

So i need to know how difficult is it to set up differencing disks so that multiple people can have their own sandbox running off of a parent VM and if this is a recommended approach.

Thanks for your advice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2014   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64 Sp1
 
 

No need to pay for the snapshots feature in a VM. My preference is vmware player.

When I create my VM's, I choose to store them in a single file, and then the vm is contained in 1 file. (Better performance too) Now, as long as system protection is enabled in windows 7, and set to 10% or higher, you will receive multiple restore points a day. Something bad happened in your VM? No problem. Right click the vm file, click restore previous versions. Or properties, restore previous versions.

Poof, vm back to whatever day you choose.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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