Windows System Restore. A “Cure-All” Windows Tool

Windows System Restore is a very powerful thus undervalued Windows Operating System tool. In fact, majority of users tend to dismiss it as another useless Windows tool,  while other ones simply do not use it because they do not know about it.  Truth is that System Restore is a great too able to solve a lot of computer issues, more than you know. But what is System Restore? System Restore, as its name goes, is a tool that lets you restore your computer state to an earlier point in time. System Restore periodically takes snapshoots of your system called restore points, (but you can also take such snapshoots manually), saves them locally and make them available for you whenever you want to go “back in time”.

System Restore saves the following computer items:

  1. Registry.
  2. Files in the Windows File Protection (Dllcache) folder.
  3. Local user profile.
  4. COM+ and WMI Databases.
  5. IIS Metabase.
  6. Specific file types monitored.
  7. Folders.
  8. Files.
  9. Drives.
  10. Partitions.
  11. Installed third party software. As a general rule,  keep a copy of your bought or downloaded software in a special, safe place such as your USB drive. In fact, when you restore your computer to a previous date using System Restore, you will lose all those applications installed after that particular restore point.

System Restore is available in all Windows Operating System starting from Windows ME (Windows Millennium Edition).

System Restore automatically creates Restore points when:

  1. When you install third party software using System Installer or other packages that are aware of System Restore.
  2. When new fixes, patches or updates are installed on your computer.
  3. When the user installs a driver that is not digitally signed by Windows Hardware Quality Labs.
  4. When the operating system starts after being off for more than 24 hours.
  5. When the user requests it. On Windows Vista, shadow copies created during File Backup and Complete PC Backup can also be used as restore points.

System Restore will won’t delete ( on the contrary, it protects) the following private data:

  1. Your passwords.
  2. Personal files.
  3. Personal documents.
  4. E-mail messages.
  5. Browsing history.
  6. My Documents folder.
  7. Microsoft Office files (.doc, .docx, .xls etc.).

System Restore is especially useful in all those cases where you computer is experiencing functioning issues. Such issue might be  related to virus attack as well as different malware and spyware infection, file corruption issues, incompatible or outdated software causing system instability, random application instability or errors due to incorrect system shut downs, accidentally deleted software etc. The list is pretty big but one thing is for sure, System Restore is a true solution for a great variety of computer issues.

Depending on what operating system you have got, there are different steps to take in order to reach System Restore. Keep in mind that in order to perform a System Restore you must be logged on to Windows as an administrator. What follow are different step-by-step guide to open and use System Restore from your operating system:

System Restore in Windows XP

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Accessories.
  3. Click System Tools.
  4. Click System Restore.
  5. A window will appear on your screen. On the left of the window, select the Resore my Computer to an Earler Time radio button.
  6. Click the Next button.
  7. On the Select a Restore Point page, select a month and a date on calendar. Now, select a restore point on the right menu.
  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Click OK to confirm your choice.

System Restore in Windows Vista

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click All Programs.
  3. Click Accessories.
  4. Click System Tools.
  5. Click System Restore.
  6. A window will appear on your screen.
  7. Select Choose a Different Restore Point radio button
  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Choose a restore point from the list and click Next.
  10. Click the Finish button.
  11. Click Yes to confirm your choice.

System Restore in Windows 7

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right click Computer.
  3. Click Properties from the menu.
  4. In the left pane, select System Protection. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  5. Click the System Protection tab.
  6. Click the System Restore button.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Select a restore point.
  9. Click the Next button.
  10. Click the Finish button.
  11. Click Yes to conform your choice.
When software is installed using the Windows Installer, Package Installer or other installers which are aware of System Restore.[7]
* When Windows Update installs new updates to Windows.
* When the user installs a driver that is not digitally signed by Windows Hardware Quality Labs.
* Every 24 hours of computer use[7] (10 hours in Windows Me), or every 24 hours of calendar time, whichever happens first. This setting is configurable through the registry or using the deployment tools. Such a restore point is known as a system checkpoint. System Restore requires Task Scheduler to create system checkpoints. Moreover, system checkpoints are only created if the system is idle for a certain amount of time.[6]
* When the operating system starts after being off for more than 24 hours.
* When the user requests it. On Windows Vista, shadow copies created during File Backup and Complete PC Backup can also be used as restore points.[4]


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