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Deskman 9 Review: A Security Tool for Administrators and Power Users

written by: J. Forlanda•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 9/16/2010

Do you maintain computers that you have to clean up periodically because their users totally trash the desktop? If so, Deskman 9 might be just be the right solution for you. Read on and you might just see more of what you need--including additional features to keep your computers secure.

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    Product Overview

    Deskman 9 is a desktop management, control, security application. This means that it has various facilities and features to ensure that certain users are only able to manipulate, run, or use certain programs or resources on a computer. If you think this is what you are looking for then you've come to the right place.

    Deskman 9 (version 9.2.1 to be exact) can be downloaded from, if you wish to give it a test drive. Retail pricing is available at their software store, but suffice it to say that their price for 1 license ranges from $45 to $69.

    It has many features to control various aspects of the desktop from context menu, Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, privacy, start menu, the system, the task bar, drive auto-play, drive access, keyboard control, mouse control, start menu control, control of auto-run programs, restrict programs, and desktop lock.

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    Experience and Impression

    I'm of the persuasion that applications should be easy and user friendly to run. This means that you should not have to use the manual to figure out what to do when using its core functions. Maybe on occasion check a new feature here and there, but for the majority of the product, the use of the manual should be null or very minimal.

    Note that this product is touted to be a product for administrators and power users. I am an above average technical expert in the field, but I find myself checking their online help just to understand some of the features. The freeze function is probably the most confusing aspect of the product. Its purpose is to allow you to control what programs users can run. After several trial and error runs, I figured it out. Basically, if you enable Freeze programs, any programs in the Deskman 9 list that isn't checked or any programs that isn't already running, will be restricted from launching or running.

    Other than that, the rest of the features are relatively easy to follow, but requires some degree of familiarization before one can fully take advantage of this programs flexibility, because the product provides a rich set of controls which can get overwhelming. To ease the setup process, Deskman 9 comes with some base profiles you can use out-of-the-box: No Restrictions, Basic Protection, Limited Access, Advanced Protection, Internet Explorer Protection, and Kiosk Mode. You can define your own profiles and save them as well.

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    Out-of-the-box Profiles

    Deskman 9 comes with the following profiles, out-of-the box to help administrators get setup quickly without too much setup work:

    • No restriction - this is really not a profile but is a state where no profiles is being used
    • Basic protection - protect critical system settings
    • Limited access - save environment without removing access to the system
    • Advance protection - tight system security
    • Internet Explorer Protection - protect Internet Explorer settings
    • Kiosk Mode - complete system access protection; only thing running is what you instruct Deskman to run

    If you wish to see exactly how Deskman 9 configures itself, simply view the various tabs and see what options and settings are checked after you click the SECURE button. Also check the desktop for visual changes. Some changes requires that the computer be rebooted to take effect.

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    Practical Applications

    This product has some practical applications at home and at small businesses where there is a need to control particular users' computer experience and environment. This product would not scale for medium to large business because for Microsoft environments, groups policies and scripts typically rule the day.

    Slide shows

    The Kiosk mode is perfect for using a desktop computer in presenting automated powerpoint slides or picture/photo slides. In this mode, the slide program is the only one running and no other system access is allowed unless you know the Deskman password.

    Limited Application Access for Kids

    If you are worried that kids who use your computer may accidentally do something damage your computer, then you can configure your Deskman in a way that only certain programs are allowed to run. Say for example that you only want the kids to play a particular program. Make sure that particular program is running and that all others are checked to be frozen before you enable FREEZE.

    Standard Secure Office Workstation

    In a small office environment, some secretarial staff just need a minimal set of applications and has no need to customize or personalize their desktop. Thus you can configure Deskman to provide some standard profile to prevent changes on the desktop or system, yet allow them to use office applications like MS Word or Excel. In addition, if ou wish to keep users from potentially using USB devices to steal intelectual property, you can disable access to USB drives.

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    Side Effects of using Deskman 9

    Because certain configuration changes cannot kick in until you reboot, the rebooting process tend to slow down the setup and setup confirmation process. Fortunately, you only have to do this once if you already know what you need to do, but it will take multiple configuration takes before you find the right access and deny balance.

    I've noticed a performance hit when booting up and logging into the computer. There seems to be a little bit of delay; the fact that Deskman needs to manipulate system settings and the like, makes me think it is the culprit, because I didn't experience such delays prior to the Deskman installation.

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    The Verdict

    I would not recommend this product to a non technical user as it requires significant understanding of computers to comprehend the purpose of the various product features. However, for someone who has a need to control the desktop environment of a computer in a home or small office environment, this might just fit the bill. As such, I would only recommend this product if and only if the user is very technical. Otherwise, one could end up losing more hair than they bargained for.