You are here

Erase all personal data, keep apps?

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Moonbase
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 4 months ago
Joined: 2010-09-09 06:16
Erase all personal data, keep apps?

Just to be sure, let me ask this question:

Assuming that one works in adult education and hands out USB sticks to the course participants containing (only) a predefined set of original Portable Apps (unmodified/unrun) plus some course materials in the "Documents" folder.

After the course is finished, the sticks have to be "reset" to a clean state for the next course (sticks are lent to participants for the course duration).

Would it be enough to …

  • clean out the "Documents" folder (keeping empty "Music", "Pictures" and "Videos" subdirectories),
  • erase all folders in the drive's root (which might have been created by mistake) except "Documents" and "PortableApps",
  • copy a fresh set of course materials into "Documents",
  • and simply erase all "PortableApps\<whatever>\Data" folders?

My other idea would be doing something like

rsync -av --delete <server> <stick>

which should also handle it with a minimum of writes (but takes longer since the files on the stick have to be read in order to find differences).

Reasons for this approach:

  • sticks should last for a while, so no unneeded writes,
  • erasing and copying everything back takes enormous amounts of time.
Simeon
Simeon's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 8 months ago
DeveloperTranslator
Joined: 2006-09-25 15:15
Yes

This should be enough. All the launchers should recreate the /Data folders if they dont exist.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

J Neutron
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-06-10 19:26
How secure?

You might want to consider using a tool to wipe empty spaces to prevent recovery of deleted data if that's a concern.

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

Moonbase
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 4 months ago
Joined: 2010-09-09 06:16
Sure do

Thanks for the hint, might not have been clear to everyone. But security-paranoid as I am, the sticks taken back are of course virus-scanned and deletion will take place with some tool that overwrites (and not even using simple bit patterns).

Thinking about it, new memory cards are cheap and personal data is at stake … maybe I’ll eventually decide to overwrite the stick completely. Most students will probably delete their data before I get the stick back, thus leaving "restorable" traces.

Q: Would you pay, say, $10 more for a weekend or one-week course if you knew that all possible traces of your personal data were safely destroyed? (It does cost a little more on time and new memory cards, after all.)

J Neutron
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-06-10 19:26
Yeah, I agree

I agree with solanus' idea about letting the students keep the USB stick.

My wife teaches a number of different courses here in our home business, ranging from an evening for $25 to a Saturday for $175. She also does one that runs one weekend per month for a year. We always consider student materials and handouts when calculating the rates. How else could you do it?

The other thought is that if you guarantee student data security in exchange for a fee and then re-use the media, you are risking all sorts of trouble. Much better to charge that same $10 fee and let them keep the 4gig media. You are automatically off the hook, and the students are happy to keep/use the media as a "bonus". It is all about perceived value.

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

Simeon
Simeon's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 8 months ago
DeveloperTranslator
Joined: 2006-09-25 15:15
secure erasing

on usb drives?
I thought that isn't possible due to wear leveling...
But let people keep the drive is a better idea imho. declare it as course material and bingo.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 45 min 51 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
Yes and No

You need to delete the file and then wipe free space for it to be truly effective, I believe.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

solanus
solanus's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 8 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-21 19:12
I guess it depends on the apps

In theory, all official apps only save personal settings into the Data Folder, provided that they have been released with a recent enough version of the PA Launcher. However, you also need to check where the apps point to for their default "Save" location, since this is likely to be a place where people will accidentally save documents. I can't remember which, but I know at least one app I've used defaults to its "bin" folder.

Or

Have you thought about charging an extra $10 as a materials fee to cover the cost of the drives, and just letting the students keep the drives?

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Moonbase
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 4 months ago
Joined: 2010-09-09 06:16
Keep the sticks: A good idea.

Hee, hee. While writing the $10 post above, you came up with the suggestion they could simply keep the sticks. A good one: Saves me extra work, and they have an additional advantage!

I guess that’s what I’ll opt for, especially since some of the trainees don’t even have a PC at home (yet). So they could keep their data and use their stick at somebody else’s computer.

The only drawback to this scheme is German tax regulations: For being an educator you don’t have to have a regular business (educators, teachers, journalists are so-called "free professions"). When giving away the sticks I’d have to start a business (higher tax) because technically I’d be "selling" the sticks. Oh, Germany, kingdom of bureaucracy … Well, I’ll ask my tax advisor, maybe there is a possibility to include the stick as "course material" at cost, and just correct the course pricing. Still a problem if one works as freelance lecturer for a training center.

Q @ PA officials: In this scenario, I’d be giving the USB stick away at cost and not charge for the apps on the stick. Also, I’d be advising them to come here for official updates. Would that be okay with PA licensing rules?

Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 1 week ago
Joined: 2007-04-15 21:08
Fine

That should be fine with all open source apps. You should read the license for freeware apps if you want to include any; you probably will not be able to distribute them.

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Log in or register to post comments