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The System Restore Utility

Use System Restore to fix Windows problems

Introduction to System Restore:

The System Restore utility is the ultimate band-aid fix for Microsoft Windows problems. If you make a hardware or software change to your Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 system and something goes wrong, System Restore acts like a giant "undo" button for your computer. Have you got a nasty virus that your anti-virus software can't seem to get rid of? Use System Restore to get rid of it!

For System Restore to work, you must have a valid restore point to go back to. Creating a restore point saves a copy of the registry, drivers, and crucial operating system files, sort of like taking a "snapshot" of your system's configuration at that point in time.

The files are saved as compressed .cab files in a folder named _RESTORE/ARCHIVE. System Restore will use this archived information to restore your PC back to the way it was before the problem started.

System Restore monitors every partition on your computer and automatically creates restore points. You can even choose which disk drives to monitor.

The actual number of restore points saved depends on how much disk space has been allocated for System Restore archives. System Restore will not run if your system has less than 200 MB of free space on the hard drive.

Types of Restore Points created:

  • System Check Points: These are restore points that are automatically created by Windows on a regular basis. System Restore creates a restore point every 10 hours if Windows is running. Your computer must be idle for a little while before a restore point can be created.
  • Manual Restore Points: Just before you make a software or hardware change to your system, you can instruct System Restore to create a new restore point. That way, you'll know you have a good restore point to go back to in case something goes wrong with the installation.
  • Installation Restore Points: Some (but not all) installation programs will create a restore point before making changes to your system.

Verifying that System Restore is enabled:

  1. Select Start>Control Panel and open the System Utility.
  2. Click on System Restore
  3. Make sure the box beside "Turn off System Restore" is un-checked. If it is checked, un-check it.

How to create a restore point:
  1. Click Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools> System Restore
  2. Select the Create A Restore Point radio button. Then click Next.
  3. Enter a descriptive name for your new restore point. For example, "Before modem driver update". Then click Next.
  4. A new restore point will now be created (this could take a minute or two), then the "Confirm New Restore Point" window will appear showing the date and name of your brand new restore point. Click OK.

Restoring Your System

You made a software or hardware change to your system, and now it doesn't work like it should. Or maybe a nasty virus is wreaking havoc.

Whatever the cause, if Windows won't start up, recycle the power to your computer and press the F8 key after you hear the beep. The "Startup Menu" should appear. In the Startup Menu select Safe Mode.
  1. Click Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore
  2. The "Welcome to System Restore" window will appear.
  3. Select the radio button beside Restore my computer to an earlier time and click Next.
  4. A calendar will be displayed on the screen with some of the days highlighted. The highlighted dates indicate that a restore point was created on each of those days. Click on one of the highlighted days to select a restore point. Click Next.
  5. System Restore will restore your PC's configuration to the state it was in when the selected restore point was created. After the System Restore process is finished, the system will restart.
System Restore doesn't undo any changes that you have made to any files you created with your applications. If a restore doesn't work, you can simply undo it and select a different restore point.

System Restore can be used as many times as necessary to get your computer working again. Be aware that System Restore will also undo any software or driver installations that you made after the restore point.

System Restore is one of the most useful and powerful utilities to be added to Windows in years. The next time something goes wrong, don't panic. Try fixing the problem with System Restore!

Stephen Bucaro is the owner of Bucaro TecHelp. Visit him at: http://bucarotechelp.com

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