If you are the administrator of a Windows PC, for instance the family PC at home or PCs at work, you may need to restrict to certain features of the operating system or software running on it.
While you can manage a lot with built-in Windows tools such as the Group Policy Editor or by manipulating the Registry directly, it is also possible to use third-party software for that.
Besides adding options that are not built-in to Windows, they may also improve how you administrate and manage those restrictions or settings.
Desktop Patrol is a free program for Windows that you can use to modify a variety of user restrictions. It needs to be installed with elevated privileges so keep that in mind.
The user account it is installed on is the administrative account for the system. A password prompt is displayed on start -- the default password is patrol -- to protect access to the application. First thing you may want to do is change the account password under Options > Administrator Password Setup.
Once that is out of the way, you can start configuring restrictions.
One of the main features of the application is its patrol mode which you can enable for specific items including installations, downloads, the file manager or open file dialogs.
A couple of programs are patrolled by default including the Registry Editor, Command Prompt, Windows Task Manager or the Run command.
You can add access to removable drives to the list as well as specific Windows programs such as Internet Explorer, Media Center or Media Player.
It is furthermore possible to add custom items to the application. It uses Windows titles to determine if a program or tool is to be blocked or not. It is necessary to enter the exact title to have it blocked. While this works well for most applications, it won't for programs that display different titles depending on location, file or resource that is open.
Other features include the recording of the url history of Internet Explorer and computer access, adding windows users to customize what they are allowed to do or exclude them completely from the restrictions imposed by the application, or resetting a user accounts rights.
The administrator's account is not patrolled by default, which you can change in the program options. Patrolled items are terminated immediately; an attempt to open the Task Manager with Ctrl-Alt-Esc will display the window for a subsecond before it is closed again.
A good starting point to get acquainted with the application is the help file that you can open from within the program interface.
The biggest hurdle of the program is the setup as it is not as easy to use and configure as it could be. While powerful, it lacks certain features such as the blocking of processes directly by adding filenames to the program's blocklist. The program icon can be hidden for all accounts but the administrator account.
The program's feature set is powerful on the other hand, limiting downloads, software installations, access to various Windows tools are just a couple of options that it makes available.
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